Travel Tips

9 things to know about currency exchange before you leave


Changing currency before you travel is sometimes functional, even necessary, depending on your destination, especially if you venture into remote areas of some countries, where ATMs may be scarce or even absent. Here are 9 tips and tricks to know about currency exchange:

Tips and tricks about currency exchange

Why does the exchange rate fluctuate?

The exchange rate fluctuates because it is indexed to the evolution of the financial markets. Ok, but it is different everywhere because the intermediaries take a margin to reimburse themselves. Also, compare the other market players.

Compare the prices, but also the conditions: the amount of the margin, the exchange rate applied, the time needed to obtain the currency, the choice of denominations, and the repurchase of the money upon return…

By contacting a bureau de change, you can get the best exchange conditions.

How do I transport my currency?

First, do not put money in your suitcase in the hold. Imagine if it gets lost. Moreover, you can open your bag.

The best thing to do is to put your money in your carry-on suitcase. Better yet, place it and hide it in at least two places.

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How much cash can I carry?

In France, the law requires you to declare the departure of a sum greater than 10,000 euros. Then, in many countries, you also have to tell customs a certain amount: 10 000 dollars, for example.

Is it more expensive to change money at the airport?

As a general rule, it almost always is. Therefore, always change your money in the city.

Don’t forget to take small bills

Always take small bills with you. It can be challenging to get change for large bills in small shops, even if the amount is optional. Especially when you arrive, you will need small accounts for small purchases (cab, coffee etc.). Keep the big bills for paying for your hotel nights, for example.

Be aware of the condition of the bills

In some countries, merchants may refuse your bill if it is worn or slightly damaged. This can be surprising at first. But nothing to do; they will reject your ticket. So, when changing money, ask for new bills, or at least ones in good condition. And then protect them from humidity and the hazards of travel.

The exchange offices allow you to obtain small denominations and new bills. Remember to specify this when ordering.

The bank card: reliable abroad?

Only sometimes. Several times, I needed help withdrawing money with my bank card abroad. The reason? My bank had blocked the withdrawal in that country. You had to contact it beforehand to inform it of the trip. Practical…

There are also countries where it takes more work to pay with your bank card. Using a bank card abroad also generates additional fees, which, depending on the conditions of your bank, can be significant.

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What should I do with my left currency when I return?

Some exchange offices offer a “cashback” service, meaning they will buy back your currency at the exchange rate at which they sold it to you. Please note that this only applies to banknotes. So, get rid of your money before you leave.

Where to change your currency before you leave?

A piece of advice: opt for a bureau de change that groups together manual money changers and professionals in the field of currency exchange.

Bonus: take advantage of exchange rate variations to travel!
The dollar’s value varies from year to year with the local currencies. There are sometimes significant differences!

For you, this means spending less on the spot and saving money. Also, it is interesting to know which destinations to go to now to take advantage of the exchange rate.

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