Traveling abroad can be costly as small items tend to add up quickly; however, there are multiple ways to try to save a little bit of cash. Here, I have composed a list to help you do just that.
- Acquire any foreign currency you might need from the bank before leaving on your trip. Banks, such as PNC, allow members to exchange foreign currency without any added fees. Bank of America also allows its members to exchange foreign currency; however, they do charge a delivery fee. Of note, it is best to make these requests approximately two weeks in advance to be on the safe side. As a result, this tactic will prevent you from spending any unnecessary funds as airports (as well as hotels) upcharge big time to make any exchanges of currency.
- If you do think you might need to take out cash from an ATM while abroad, do your research ahead of time in order to get an idea of what charges to expect to avoid any surprises. Tip: Bank of America is affiliated with certain international banks, and as a result, its customers can retrieve funds from the ATMs of these specific banks at a lower cost when traveling abroad. In this instance, the $5.00 usage fee for the withdrawal from a non-Bank of America ATM is waived as well as the ATM operator access fee, and ultimately, you are only charged an international transaction fee of 3% of the amount withdrawn. The list of participating international banks that work with Bank of America can be found here. Lastly, if you do find yourself in a position where you need to take out money at some point in your trip, calculate or try to estimate in advance how much you will need for the remainder of your trip to eliminate any supplemental visits and surcharges.
- When asked, always opt to charge your credit card in the local currency (for example, when in London, opt to charge in pounds versus dollars). I realize it seems strange as it probably seems more natural to want to charge your bill in your native currency, but trust and believe, do not do this. Why? First, you are playing with fire in hoping you might receive a favorable conversion rate back to your home currency. More often than not, the exchange rate will be awful and not to your benefit. Second, there may be an additional fee to make this conversion unbeknownst to you. So yes, always charge in the local currency.
- Utilize a credit card that does not incur foreign transaction fees. This goes hand-in-hand with tip #3 as this will help you to avoid any additional charges by the issuer of the credit card. Note: If you opt not to do this, you will likely negate the benefit of tip #3. Many credit cards nowadays offer this amenity, so make sure the credit card you plan to carry with you on your trip has this feature.
- Know your conversion rates as well as taxes associated with particular items. A perfect instance here is Norway. When it comes to food and drink, restaurants tack on an extra 15% to the bill. With this in mind, you might reconsider whether or not you really “need” that chocolate cake following your already expensive dinner.
- Do your research beforehand and make yourself familiar with the customs of the country you are visiting. For instance, many countries over in Europe do not utilize tipping, and if they do, it’s not the common 15-20% Americans are accustomed to, so knowing this information in advance can help save you some moolah in the long run.