We’re all in the same traveling school of hard knocks, and it’s OK to compare notes. I have to admit, I’ve never done the math to see how much I lose in fees and conversion rates with my debit card at ATM machines in Europe. While I’m pretty sure it’s a lot less than the old traveler’s checks, I bet it’s a pretty substantial expense. It’s important to remember that no one changes money because they’re nice. It’s done to make money (either in fees or exchange rates). Tips like taking big withdrawals rather than many small ones to minimize your transaction fees are pretty common sense. There are ways to get better rates and lower fees depending on which card you use and which bank you visit. My gut feeling is that I’ll get a better rate at an actual bank than using an ATM at a convenience store or gas station. Many travelers fall victim to an aggressive scam where the shop or restaurant offers to convert your bill “for your convenience” into dollars. Because of my cynicism for anything in the financial world, I’m pretty confident that this is just a costly little scam to give the unknowing traveler a lousy rate.
What are your insights and tips so we can minimize our money exchange expenses?