Real-world converts

Tips and tricks to mastering currency abroad

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You’ve set up your first big trip overseas  — maybe a study abroad in China, a family vacation in Europe or a getaway trip to the Bahamas. Regardless of your destination, you may have forgotten a crucial aspect: Money.

No matter where you’re going, converting your U.S. dollar to any other currency can be costly, inconvenient and confusing. A few quick tips can clear up conversion confusion and keep your wallet prepped before your rendezvous with the great unknown.


What is the value of your greenback abroad?

Topical currency fluctuations have been prosperous for the U.S. dollar and an advantage for frequent abroad travelers. These fluctuations modify the exchange rate when converting the U.S. dollar to another currency. For instance, if the U.S. dollar prevails over the other currency, the dollar is worth more in that country.

For example, the conversion to Chinese yuan is $1 USD to ¥6.84. This is great news for Americans traveling to China, as items are more inexpensive. But the same can’t be said if you were to visit the European Union, where the Euro overrules the dollar. In fact, $1 USD is equal to 1.16 €.

If the U.S. dollar prevails over the other currency, the dollar is worth more in that country.

Check out reliable online converters to see the current conversion rate in the country you’re visiting — Bloomberg and XE are great places to start, as they compare the dollar to the currency of the destination that you’re traveling to. This will give you insight on how affluent the dollar will be during your abroad expedition.


Minimize your international banking fees.

Rule No. 1 of travel: Never convert your money at the airport. If you do choose to convert your money in the airport, you will pay a high currency exchange rate. These costs vary from $25 to $75 USD to convert your money.

The cheapest and most secure way to convert your money is to use ATMs. Larger banks in the country that you are traveling in will most always have a 24/7 ATM at their location. If you are not close to one of these banks, you can gauge the credibility of the ATM. Usually ATMs in restaurants, hotels, or grocery stores are secure and will not upsurge the international fee.Though antiquated, ditch the card and use cash. This will alleviate the fees that are being charged to your card with every swipe. Likewise, if you use your card it will charge you U.S. prices rather than the price of the currency from the country you are in. Use the credit card as a backup if you run out of cash, but do not let it be your focal buying method.

The cheapest and most secure way to convert your money is to use ATMs.

Before your travels, make sure you contact your bank and tell them your travel route. This will prevent the bank from freezing your card due to unfamiliar spending activities. Then, ask your bank what their international fees are and say that you plan on pulling out cash at the local ATMs. This gives your financial institution awareness of your future abroad expenses and will prevent account freezing and disabling.


Exotic locations in your budget:

Wondering where to get the most bang for your buck? Check out these affordable locations for people that want to travel on a budget:

With a dense culture spanning for 5,000 years, home to the ubiquitous Great Wall and known for their wide array of cuisine, this country is very cost-effective. The typical meal spans from $0.50 to $3 USD, and the average nightly rate for a stylish hotel room is $20 USD.


Indonesia, Vietnam and Cambodia

These three countries are great places to travel with the greenback. Convert your money at the ATM and see how long your withdrawal will go. The average night at a hotel in these places is around $15 USD a night. In addition to low-cost accommodations, the price for a substantial meal in these countries varies from $3 to $7 USD.

New Zealand

Not only is New Zealand known for their rich indigenous culture and Hobbiton, it is also home to some of the lowest cost of living cities in the world. These remarkable cities are places to explore different cultures of the country, and to see the spectacular outdoor marvels for free.


With Croatian Kuna at 6.38 kn to $1 USD, this makes Croatia a cost-sensible travel destination. Croatia is the linkage for western and eastern Europe, and is home to a mixture of Mediterranean and Turkish cuisine as well as architectural phenomena that has been influenced by Croatia’s surrounding states. On average, accommodation costs are around $15 USD a night.