How to save on foreign exchange costs when traveling

Posted at 05/31/14 1:31 PM

MANILA, Philippines – Planning ahead of a trip is the best way to save on foreign exchange costs, financial adviser Salve Duplito said.

She said that because of the lack of planning, most travelers find themselves left with no options and held hostage by foreign exchange rates.

On ANC’s “On The Money,” Duplito gave the following tips on how to cut costs when exchanging foreign currency:

  • Bring the right amount of foreign currency on your way to the airport
  • If you maintain a dollar account in some big banks, you get a preferential exchange rate compared to those who don’t. Take advantage of that
  • Bring some currencies in small bills, so you are not forced to overpay in tips and transportation. Then find secure money changing stations near your hotel
  • For big transactions, use your credit cards. Some big card companies no longer charge currency conversion fees. Your only cost are exchange rate costs at the posting date of your transaction

She added that hotels and airports are the “worst places to get foreign currency” even if travelers deal with a satellite bank branch.

“Their exchange rates will not be beneficial to you,” she said, adding that using traveler’s checks is no longer a good option.

“Few merchants accept traveler’s checks these days. More secure banks will reimburse you within 24 hours if they get lost or stolen,” she said.

She also said that withdrawing money over ATMs overseas also has a cost.

“If you withdraw $175 and below, the fee is $3.50 for some banks, if you withdraw a higher amount, the fee becomes 2 percent of the withdrawn amount, balance inquiries $1, some ATMs abroad charge additional fees so plan your withdrawals,” Duplito said.

“If your bank does not display fees prominently in bank premises or in their websites, consider moving to another,” she added.

These possible additional charges include percentage rates; 1 percent fee for foreign usage of your card; and 2 percent currency conversion fee.

She also warned travelers against unscrupulous merchants who may use dynamic currency conversion and capitalize on foreign currency confusion to offer prices.

“Bring enough local currency especially when you are planning to haggle and never allow the merchant to quote prices to you in US dollars,” she said.