For the last 20 years I have been traveling the world with my wife, and now my daughters and I am always amazed at how things change when it comes to getting cash when we are abroad. Every few years it seems like there is something new, things get a little better and its easier to acquire cash when you get to a foreign country. Here are our experiences with getting currency, how they have changed over time and the best way to get cash when your traveling.
Our first time to Europe was in 1998, we flew into Paris. We purchased “American Express Travelers Cheques” before we left, got into Paris early on a Friday morning and checked into our apartment off the Champs Elysees. We sat down when we got into our room and decided to take a quick nap before venturing out. Seven hours later we woke up and realized it was Friday late afternoon and we had no Francs. We scrambled and made a mad dash to get to a bank that would exchange US$ for French Francs. We got the cash we needed and a tragedy was averted but that was the way we did it 20 years ago.
Fast forward to 2015, back in Paris again but this time with kiddos (a 7 and 9 year old). This time it was much easier. There is one currency that we can use throughout all of Europe and we can get cash our of ATMs using our Debit card. While in Paris I used my ATM four or five times.
That said, when getting cash from an ATM and using your debit card here are a few suggestions:
– Find out the what banks partner with your bank back in the Untied States. Less hassles, fees and service charges are incurred when going through the same network
– Try to get a credit card with no foreign exchange service fees. There are a number of them out there and they are the best way to pay for whatever it is your buying.
– Only take out of the ATM what you need. This eliminates the hassle of converting cash back when you come back to the US
– If you find yourself accumulating coins on your travels, try to get rid of them before you come back to the US. Nobody takes foreign coins in the US and the metal content ends up being worth more than the printed value. You cant mail them, as they are more expensive to ship than they are worth. Use them up or get the UNICEF envelope when your on your flight and give it to charity.
Travel safe and enjoy your travels.