Travel Money: How to Exchange Your Currency

Planning a trip abroad? You should definitely consider bringing some travel money! However, depending on the country you will be visiting, they may not accept your native currency and you will need to figure out how to exchange your currency in order to get around. Here is how to get the cash you need so that you can have a fun, relaxing and stress-free trip!

Make a Budget

Before you take a random guess at how much money you will need while traveling, it pays to sit down and make a budget. While it is okay if your number is not exact, a budget will give you a general idea as to how much travel money you will need and therefore, how much money you will need to convert. The first step to exchanging your currency is to know the amount that you want!

Understand Currency Exchange Rates

The next part of exchanging your currency is to do a little research. While currency exchange rates may go up and down daily based on many economic and political factors, checking out what the current exchange rate for your local currency and the country you are visiting is essential. This will give you a general idea of how much your money is worth abroad. You can even use tools like the Westpac Currency Converter to type in your budgeted amount and instantly see how much it is worth in various countries. 

Knowing the current currency exchange rate is also essential to ensure that you do not overpay when you exchange your money. If you know approximately what the rate should be, you will be able to assess various vendors and see if they have good exchange rates (go ahead and use them to convert your money) or bad rates (stay away from these!). Understanding rates is essential. 

Check the Fees

Once you find a vendor that has good exchange rates, very often your personal bank, credit union or online exchange website, check what kind of exchange fees they charge. Some vendors may have no fees when it comes to converting currency while most will make you pay a one-time flat rate to exchange your cash. This is another reason why you should know exactly how much travel money you need so that you only pay these fees one time.

Exchange Before You Go

Before you head off on your trip, use a local vendor, like a bank, or an online website to transfer some cash. It is essential to have at least a little local money when you arrive abroad. Tell your bank how much cash you would like and they can exchange it on the spot or order it for you. Ask for a variety of bills so that you are prepared for any scenario once you are traveling. 

Keep an Eye on the Rates

Once you are abroad, you may still need to exchange the currency if you find that you need a little more. Avoid airport exchange counters or currency kiosks near tourist locations which will charge higher rates and fees. In addition, keep an eye on the current exchange rates so that you know what a good rate is (that Westpac currency converter is always there to help you figure out exactly how much cash you should get!). If you need cash-in-hand, try to only convert your cash once or twice while abroad, using a bank-owned ATM or reliable exchange center to help you. Always plan ahead and have at least a little of the local currency in your pocket! 


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