Do you find yourself asking where to exchange leftover U.S Dollars for Pounds or maybe how to trade in Australian Dollars for Hong Kong currency for a multi-stop trip? When you find yourself out of the country, currency exchange can get exhausting. You want to get the most from your money and I’m sure skip out on any extra fees in the process. Let me break it down for you; is it best to take your money to a local bank or get money from a cash point (a.k.a. ATM machine)?

The Good and Bad of Local Banks

If you are the type of traveller that plans their trips ahead of schedule you should know you do not necessarily have to wait until you are out of the country in order to exchange your money. Now depending on the bank you use in your home country really depends on how exactly this process will work. However, the basics of what happens (in case you’ve never done this before!) is the following:

  1. Go to your local neighbourhood bank and ask to order the foreign currency from the country you plan on visiting.
  2. Your bank may have some of the more common currencies available like Euros, Australian dollars, etc. but for less popular currencies you might have to wait.  Sometimes pre-made packages of various amounts of currency are available.
  3. If your bank does have the currency you are in need of you can easily get your money that day and get the most current, up to date exchange rate usually for no extra fees (if you are an account holder).
  4. However, if your bank does not have any of your intended currency available it may take some time and depending on your bank a few business days to a couple of weeks.

So as you can see this may involve some planning but if you simply call ahead you can easily get the time-frame your money exchange will take.

Will a Bank Machine Fit Your Situation?

Travellers who are on the road more frequently tend to choose money exchange through an cash point/ATM machine. You might choose this option because of the convenience and the fact there are ATMs just about anywhere you go. If you do not have the time before a trip to go to your local bank this is definitely the way to go. So what reasons should you use an cash point to exchange your money:

  • Cash points, as the name implies, are always stocked with plenty of cash.
  • Besides a few of the ever-most remote countries, cash machines are easily found everywhere and even in those remote countries you can find at least a couple inside the airport.  (When I was in New Zealand, the bus driver made it a point to stop at the bank and reminded us our next overnight stop had no cash available!)
  • Usually the best exchange rates are found through the machine as those numbers are electronically updated so frequently.

However, exchanging money through an cash point can have its problems:

  • There are extra fees associated with exchanging money this way so if you have a small amount of money to be exchanged you’re better off heading to one of the kiosks in the airports.
  • Because of the extra fees you won’t be getting the most from your money.
  • If you are in the middle of nowhere and run out of cash it will be more than likely be harder to find directions to the nearest  machine.

I think the bottom line, as you’ve no doubt concluded, is to plan ahead when it comes to currency as there’s no perfect scenario! What are your thoughts; do you plan on exchanging your money at your local bank or an ATM cash machine?

Photo Credit: redspotted

Andy Hayes

Andy Hayes is a travel journalist currently based in Seattle, Washington. When not soaking up the Pacific Northwest lifestyle or enjoying life on the road, he is spending time hanging out on his own travel lifestyle magazine, Sharing Travel Experiences.

Posted : Thursday, January 3rd, 2013 at 11:00
Category : Holiday Tips
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