3 Things To Know About Buying Foreign Currency

know when and where to buy foreign currency, and why it's important to know exchange rates; photo of woman shopping in a foreign country

One of the many great things about traveling abroad is you gain new, cultural experiences and can turn off your brain for a bit and properly relax. The last thing you want to worry about is paying for things with the right currency. Whether you’re eating in Milan or window shopping at Oxford Street in London, here are three things to know about buying foreign currency:

1. Buy it at least two weeks before you travel

We ask our Honor members to let us know they are traveling internationally so we can put a note on file to help you avoid having your card being flagged for fraudulent transactions. If you stop by a local member center two to three weeks before you travel you can buy foreign currency (fees may apply).

You can also buy foreign currency online at HonorCU.com.

2. Where to buy currency in a foreign country

If you need to purchase more currency while you’re traveling, in many countries, the local post offers a better exchange rate than the airports or currency exchange centers. However, it’s not a bad idea to exchange some money at the airport to pay for a taxi or other immediate need. Additionally, when using most foreign ATMS, you do not have to take out funds in 20 increments. Some offer increments of 5, 10, 20, etc.

RELATED: 5 Tips About Using Credit & Debit Cards When Traveling

It’s helpful to keep track of the exchange rates you’re paying by writing down how much foreign (local) currency it takes to equal $1, $5, $10, $20 etc. This will help you estimate how much something costs before you buy it.

3. Be mindful of rates

Foreign affairs and international markets drive the exchange rate. Keeping an eye on these subjects gives you the best opportunity to get your currency at the best price. For example, Brexit in the U.K. drove the exchange rate to $1.21 for one pound as of August 2019, the lowest in 30-months. The lower exchange rate means you are getting more foreign currency for your dollar, making the goods and services overseas less expensive.

Keep in mind, local retailers, restaurants, and hotels might be willing to exchange your U.S. money on the spot, but you are at their mercy, because they can set exchange rate and fees of their choosing.

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