Should I exchange money before I travel?

30th December 2018by Joanna White

Wherever you’re travelling to in the world, whether it be to Paris for a short weekend away or all the way to Dubai for a two-week holiday, the question that’s always on people’s minds is “should I exchange money before I travel?”

You’ll often find many mixed opinions about what the best option for you with regards to travel money is but hopefully this post will help you decide when exactly you should exchange your travel money. Here’s our guide on whether you should exchange your money before you travel.

Should I exchange money before I travel?

There are a few things that you need to consider when thinking about where to exchange your money before you go on holiday.

It’s not quite as simple as just taking a wad of cash to your local currency exchange bureau and hoping for the best; you need to do your research about the best methods of going about obtaining your travel money.

Always avoid airport exchange rates

One of the best pieces of advice to bear in mind when exchanging your travel money is to never do it at the airport.

Many people often leave exchanging their money to the last minute, which means they must do it at the airport. However, the most important thing to remember is that you should always avoid this eventuality as much as you can.

Airport exchange bureaux charge extortionate commission fees and the exchange rates are always truly dreadful. Even if the bureaux claim that they don’t charge you any additional fees or commission, you can still bet that you’ll receive a terrible exchange rate, no matter what currency you’re exchanging.

While it seems incredibly immoral for airport exchange bureaux to do this, they know just how much travellers will require cash before they go on holiday. This means they can charge extortionate fees and terrible rates because holiday makers have no other choice if they arrive at the airport without the appropriate currency.

Be careful of using ATMs

A popular means of using money while abroad is taking your regular debit or credit card with you and then simply using it at an ATM while you’re there.

While this sometimes can be better than using exchange bureaux to obtain cash before you go, it can also sometimes mean that you’re charged enormous transaction fees.

Some banks around the world have partnerships with other banks which means that you won’t be charged a hefty fee to take out money from an ATM. However, you must ensure that your bank won’t charge you any additional fees for using this method.

Exchange before you go

There are so many reasons why people prefer to exchange their travel money before they travel as it offers a sense of security knowing that they’re well equipped with the necessary currency before their trip.

Oftentimes, many people may want to exchange a hefty sum of money which means they need to do it in advance as many currency exchange bureaux only let you exchange a certain amount of money at a time.

It also means that you can arrive at your destination fully prepared and ready to go without worrying about whether you have enough of the correct currency.

However, when you exchange your travel money before you go on holiday, you must be wary of a few things. Some exchange bureaux will charge you for commission fees and the exchange rates often differ drastically between each supplier.

There are so many places that you can exchange your money nowadays, so it’s imperative to carry out all the necessary research to make sure you get the best deal for your money.

Exchange when you arrive at your destination

Some people often prefer to wait until they arrive at their destination before they exchange their travel money.

This is because international banks and travel money bureaux can often offer better deals on exchange rates; meaning that you’ll get more value for money. It is important however, to bear in mind that by doing this you’ll be arriving at your destination without the appropriate currency.

It can be a good idea therefore, to exchange just a small amount of cash before you go, and then exchange more when you arrive. This is so you have money on you in case of an emergency once you arrive at your destination.

Travel cash or travel cards?

Another thing to consider when thinking about whether you should exchange money before you travel is whether you’d prefer to take cash with you or travel cards or a traveller’s cheque.

Many people prefer taking cash with them as it’s much easier to tip in places such as America where it is expected.

However, some people prefer to exchange their money and then load it on to a travel card whereby they can spend their money just like a regular credit card. It really depends on your preferences and which method will be more convenient for you.

One thing to remember however, is that if you opt for a travel card, you’ll often be required to arrange this beforehand as many foreign countries won’t let you purchase one while you’re there.

You’ll need the card set up initially at first but once there’s some money loaded on to it, you can often add more currency to it as you go via the likes of an app or over the phone.

Should I exchange money before I travel?

As you can see from the above points, there are many things to think about and consider when it comes to exchanging your travel money.

Whether you choose to exchange it before you travel, or you leave it until you arrive at your destination, one thing is for certain; always avoid exchanging your money at the airport.

This is because airport exchange bureaux charge extortionate transaction and commission fees and their exchange rates are also usually terrible, meaning you’ll get less value for your money.