Tamara talks about MONEY and exchange – should you and when and where?

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Hello Everyone,

As my clients are preparing to leave the States for their well deserved vacations, I am frequently asked “ Do I need to exchange my money before I go?” I then say – What is your destination?

I travel frequently to vacation spots in the Caribbean and certain Mexico destinations where exchanging your money is not necessary. In these places the U.S dollar is preferred, and you will get a better deal using U.S. cash when haggling in the open markets for local wares. Always ask for your change in U.S currency, so you know you are getting the correct amount back. Single women traveling alone, carry at least $75 in small bills with you. This comes in handy when you want to buy that small gift from a vendor on the beach, when you need to tip the shuttle/taxi driver, person handling your luggage at the airport or your resort, the towel person and please always leave something daily for the housekeeping staff… even at an all inclusive.

When traveling Internationally, you need to have some foreign currency. Most travel agencies will be able to get that for you. Travel agencies may keep a few types of currency on hand, or use an Exchange Agency that handles a selection of over 60 currencies including major and exotic currencies. These agencies may have a minimum purchase amount, an advance weekday notice and an exchange fee. Always have at least a small amount of foreign currency, but plan on using your credit card for the convenience (and the points) the majority of the time. For small amounts of currency, you may want to use your ATM once you arrive at your destination or if you are a member of AAA they offer small-denomination foreign currency TipPaks for a variety of popular destinations. Travelers checks are not accepted everywhere, so I personally never bother with those.

You will almost always have to pay a little extra fee for exchanging one currency for another, but you can minimize the expense and get the best exchange rate. Do not buy large amounts of currency since there is also a fee to exchange your unused currency back to US dollars. Tip: When booking international travel with your agent, ask if there is anyone they know of who would be willing to sell you their unused currency without a fee at the current or better rate? Most credit card companies have the best exchange rate, but add fees for transactions made in foreign currencies. However using the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card is a win/ win situation. Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card does not charge an International transaction fee and the added benefit of using the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card for tickets, resort stays, and car rentals is that you get some free extras like trip cancellation insurance, auto rental collision coverage and travel emergency insurance!

I can’t believe Delta Points hits the 1 year mark tomorrow! I am so happy to be a part of the team and hope that you enjoy what I bring to the blog! – Hugs, Tamara

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5 comments

  1. I’m fan of ATM’s from my credit union, even with a 3% fee + $3 ATM fee. It might be an issue if you plan to spend thousands in cash, but for me and my wife a few hundred in cash here and there via an ATM’s work great. I usually hit the ATM in baggage claim and then in town later if I run out. I’m happy to pay the fees for the shear convenience of getting cash via a machine as you arrive.

  2. If you have unused foreign cash, load it on your Starbucks card at a Starbucks (perhaps at the airport) before you depart.

  3. I concur. I did a stint in the FX world so I know just enough to get me in trouble! Now days ATMs and credit card is the way to go. As a retail customer, that is what you are when you are traveling and looking to exchange a few hundred $s, you really are not going to get a great “deal” on your exchange (this especially is true if you go to your local bank where they see you coming a mile away). Unfortunately for us traveling the system is geared to make the exchangers $s, not save us any. Believe me, when I exchange $s in London or Europe I groan at the price I pay, but it is what it is and I dont let it get to me too much! I feel fortunate that I have the oportunity to be in those places.

  4. Tamara suggests: “Single women traveling alone, carry at least $75 in small bills with you.” and then goes on to list situations when small bills come in handy. I’m curious as to why she recommends this for single women traveling alone???

  5. While Deltapoints gives good general advice, my experience and other money websites have different advice, depending on where you go. I personally use my Citigold card at the ATM. I get great rates, and no fees. Other banks, including Citi (without Citigold) – charge fees for withdrawing in other countries.

    In some places, like Hong Kong, I get great rates going to foreign currency exchange. In general, getting it at home usually has bad rates, as our hotels. Some countries (I think Japan) regulate the foreign exchange rate, so it doesn’t matter.

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