The Best Way To Carry Money Overseas
Before you leave for your next trip abroad, take a moment to think dollars and cents — or should we say pounds and pesos? Get the most for your money when traveling internationally by doing a little homework first. The most important step is to know your options. In days of yore, traveler’s checks were the most popular way to carry money overseas — but today’s travelers are much more likely to rely on credit cards, and ATM withdrawals, which usually offer better exchange rates and lower fees. What’s the best option for you? And how can you avoid those pesky currency conversion fees when making purchases abroad? Here are some tips.
- Credit Cards – The first thing you should do if you are traveling abroad with a credit card, even if you only plan to use it in case of an emergency, is to call the issuer and ask which fees will apply to your purchases, both in local currency and in dollars. We recommend calling before each trip, as these policies may change without notice.
- Debit & ATM Cards – If the ATM card from your home bank isn’t connected to the worldwide Cirrus or PLUS networks, you may want to look into getting a MasterCard or Visa debit card. While they look and can be used like regular charge cards, they actually debit your checking account the same way your ATM card does.
- Cash – The first 24 hours of your trip — to tide you over until you can find the nearest ATM.
- Traveler’s Checks and Check Cards – Emergency backup if you can’t find a functioning ATM (checks) or a secure alternative to cash (checks and check cards).
- Sending Money Abroad – Best For: Emergencies when you need money sent overseas in a hurry. Pros: If you find yourself stranded overseas without cash, someone at home can wire money to you and you’ll have it within a day — or even a few minutes. Cons: Fees for sending money abroad can run anywhere from 1 ot 10 percent or more; the faster you need the money, the more expensive it will be. What You Need To Know: The best-known companies for sending money are Western Union and Moneygram. Both charge variable fees depending on how much money you’re sending and where you’re sending it. The slower the service you choose, the more economical he price. Other Choices: Bank wire transfers or international postal money orders from the post office. While less expensive, these methods may take more time.