Exchanging money while traveling can be quite a hassle, where it feels like everyone is trying to rip you off by offering you poor exchange rates. Of course the loss of exchanging currency should be kept at a minimum, but it is important to remember that no one will offer you exchanges at the actual rates, because they then would have made no money from the exchange. To keep you currency exchange costs to a minimum, you should consider the following:
– Use currency converter apps or pages such as xe.com to find out what the exchange rate is to avoid being fooled. If you don’t know what the currency is worth, they might be able to convince you that the exchange rate is double of what it really is!
– Check rates at several exchange offices. Airports, hotels and travel agencies tend to charge very poor exchange rates; Airports becuase the people exchanging there have little choice, travel agencies and hotels because it is not their main field of business. Usually I look for the biggest banks in the city center to get exchange rates that are fair.
– Exchange some money before you go: I usually exchange around 100-200NOK before I go at a currency exchange office that does not charge exchange fees (e.g Forex bank). The rates there are poor so I just want to get enough to cover my airport transfer and the first night at a hostel. After that I either pay by card if possible or do a single withdrawal from the ATM to avoid several transaction fees.
– Pick a credit card with no transaction/withdrawal fees. The ATM withdrawal fees vary greatly, and it is advised to check comparisons between banks to find cards offering low or no withdrawal feel which can save you a lot of money.
– Exchange remaining money if you have withdrawn too much instead of spending it at the duty free or expensive airport restaurants. Land borders will usually also have exchange offices where you can exchange your remaining cash into the next local currency
– Pay with the foreign currency: if you are asked if you want to pay with local currency or your own currency with your debit card, always go with the local currency. You will then use the exchange rates of your bank instead of theirs (with poorer rates)
– Always travel with spare cash: the US dollar and the Euro usually have the best exchange rates and will be easiest to buy and sell. I always travel with 100USD and 100EUR hidden separately in my luggage. If I have my things stolen, this should be enough to get me to the nearest embassy to make a new passport and have money transferred from a bank account back home.
This list could have been endless, and these are just my tips. Feel free to share your own below.