While preparing for our recent trip to Mexico I was faced with a familiar dilemma, how to exchange my Canadian currency into Pesos without being ripped off. Now don’t get me wrong it’s going to hurt no matter what but there has to be an easier way than going to the bank and excepting their exchange rate right? I live close to the US border so a popular topic in town is the US exchange rate. The only option for exchanging our currency is the local banks which can be a real eye opener. As of this post the exchange rate is $1.00CAD = $0.62USD like are you kidding me? just typing that makes me want to throw up. With rates like that it can be the difference between a great vacation and a mediocre vacation. In this blog I will be talking mostly about USD as this the currency that is widely accepted around the world. Now let’s look at some money options when planing to travel.
This is my least favorite option, lets face it they are in business to make money off of you. The rate you get quoted will most likely be 2.5 – 3% higher than the posted rate. If this is your only option you should inquire if your bank has “borderless” services that can offer you more competitive rates. Sometimes borderless rates can be 5 -7% lower than the standard rate and can save you quite a bit. If you don’t have a trip scheduled for awhile you can open a US savings account at your bank and watch the exchange rate. This will allow you to transfer money into your US account when the rate is low.
Ugh, another option which aims to take your money with high rates. Their business is to take advantage of travelers who have forgotten to get currency before leaving on vacation. The good thing about airport exchange kiosks is their markup is sometimes less than the bank rate. They are convenient if you forget your currency but it comes at a cost.
Sometimes this may be option that most of us take, instead of carrying a large sum of local currency we opt to use our credit card. The problem with this is the fees that they charge to use them out of your country, some cards have up to 2.5% markup on exchange rates. Check your credit card provider before you leave to find out what the markup is, if it is higher than 3% consider finding another provider.
You will notice when you arrive in a foreign country there will be small kiosks offering to exchange money. They are most likely setup where the tourist traffic is high and the rates can be high. You also have a higher possibility of being scammed if you are not informed about the foreign currency. I have had money exchanged in mexico at these kiosks and have had no problem.
If you deal with a bank at home that has branches internationally you might get the best rate from their ATM. Some fees can be as small as 1% and you won’t have to carry as much cash on you. Visit your local branch and inquire about your options and the fees for using their ATM.
The Bottom Line:
Take some time before you leave to figure out what option will work best for you. We work hard for our money why give it away in fees?