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A Pocket Guide to Currency Exchange Worldwide

When traveling internationally, it’s important to get familiar with the local currency. You’ll also want to get the most bang for your buck by exchanging your money at the right time and place. Read our helpful pocket guide to currency exchange worldwide for more tips and tricks before your vacation abroad!

When is the best time to exchange currency?

The best time to exchange currency is before you travel, not once you arrive. Plan to process your exchange through your local bank, and think ahead! Checking with your banking institution before you go and allowing time for them to order the currency will give you time to secure the best exchange rates you can get. This will work for most foreign currencies.

How much cash should I carry with me, and where can I exchange currency during my trip?

If you do not want to carry a bunch of cash with you, do not over-order the initial currency you think you’ll need. As an example, Euros are easily obtainable in Europe from ATMs. Locate an ATM internationally that is affiliated with your banking institution to keep fees low. Stay away from airport kiosks since they are the most costly option. There is always a fee involved to exchange currency but the lowest fees you will find are close to home and before you depart.


Generally, we suggest traveling anywhere with a combination of three things:

  1. The equivalent of $300-$400 US Dollars but in the currency of your destination country;
  2. A debit card affiliated with your financial institution that can be used to access foreign
  3. A credit card that DOES NOT charge foreign exchange fees;
  4. And possibly, $200-$300 USD stashed for emergency use during travel.

What do I need to know about the international currency before traveling?

We recommend familiarizing yourself with any foreign currency you’ll be using so you understand how it converts into US Dollars. Getting a general idea of the exchange rate before you go will help you do quick math on the spot, and avoid overpaying and scams in unfamiliar cities.

Check out this helpful currency exchange table to get an idea of how much your US Dollars are worth abroad. 

How can I avoid international transaction fees abroad?

There are also foreign transaction fees charged by credit card companies when you use your debit or credit cards abroad. These fees are the cost of converting your international charges to
US Dollars as they process to your account. To avoid these, either make sure your current credit/debit card comes with no foreign transaction fees or consider applying for a card that does not charge foreign transaction fees before you leave.

What do I need to do to avoid having my credit cards frozen while traveling abroad?

ALWAYS, notify your financial institution of your travels prior to departure. This helps them mark your accounts accordingly (with dates of travel and destination/s) and can possibly avoid an unnecessary “freeze” on your account for suspicious transactions.

If you’re currently traveling and your card is frozen, call your credit card company right away to verify your location and request that your card hold be lifted.

Try our quick Currency Converting Calculator to instantly convert your USD at the current rate!

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We hope this guide was helpful! For more travel planning tips and to start designing your dream vacation, get in touch with the Travel Design Loft Team. 

Lori Arzola, CEO, Travel Design Loft