When traveling abroad, tourists often need to exchange currency. For first-time travelers, this task can seem especially daunting. For anyone visiting the UK, it’s important to understand the easiest and most beneficial way to convert currency.
The first step to making sure travelers are successful is to know what the actual currency rate is. UK exchange rates are constantly changing, along with other rates around the world. It’s easy to find the currency rate by simply doing a quick search on the internet, or downloading a conversion app on a mobile device. For any travelers staying a long period of time, it’s a good idea to check the rates periodically in the case that there are any dramatic changes.
Getting the Best Possible Rates
Before travelers even reach the airport, it’s best to plan ahead when converting currency. When in a rush, tourists may exchange currency at the first place they see available, without thinking to consider the quality of the exchange rate, or the reliability of the money changers. Travelers should be aware of the fine print, and do all the research to ensure they aren’t getting scammed, and that the bureau is reliable and leads to the best rates.
In order to get the best rates possible, it’s a smart idea to use credit or ATM cards rather than cash. The rate will typically be 2 to 7 percent better than using cash, or traveler’s checks. The downside to this however is that many credit card companies add fees for transactions made in foreign countries. Many bureaus will also charge a small fee when converting using debit or credit cards, and sometimes the debit and credit card providers will treat the transaction as a cash advance.
Cards Over Cash
It’s also not uncommon for local vendors to charge travelers fees when they choose to use credit cards, rather than cash. Using cards is more ideal when spending money on hotels, tickets, car rentals, and other large purchases. Travelers will usually get the best exchange rates in hotels and post offices in the UK, rather than exchanging in the US. Places like airports, train stations, and other tourist designated areas typically have the worst rates for exchanging, but some may get lucky and find a good deal.
If ATM’s are easily accessible in the area of the UK travelers are visiting, it’s a good idea to use them for daily cash needs. However, since many ATM’s charge fees for withdrawing currency in foreign countries, it’s idea to withdraw large amounts at a time rather than several smaller withdrawals.
Things to Look Out For
When traveling to the UK, take the time to go around visiting the shops. A common trick many retailers will use is posting the sell rate for US customers, rather than the buy rate, which is what travelers need if they are converting money in a foreign country such as the UK. Another way money changers allure benign tourists is to post a fantastic rate that is only available for those using traveler’s checks, or converting an absurd amount of money. One way travelers can avoid this is by sticking to reliable places such as post offices or reputable banks.
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