Many people who travel for the first time are unaware of how money should be exchanged.
Some people think that all their money for the trip should be exchanged before the trip, so that the travelers do not have to worry about currency exchange upon arriving at the destination. This is not the smartest option because it would be very unlikely to guess the correct amount of money needed before leaving. Also, the traveler would be putting him/herself at a risk of losing very large amounts of money if the money were to be stolen. A stolen credit card is inconvenient; however, stolen money is worse because actual money is gone.
Others think that they should just use their credit or debit card once they arrive. However, this can cause headaches for a person if the traveler not aware of the fees. Before traveling to a foreign country, travelers should first check with their banks and credit card companies to see the rate of withdrawal fees in foreign countries. Each bank and credit card has a different policy. A simple Internet search should suffice.
Before even leaving, travelers should notify their banks and credit card companies concerning their trip. A bank might get suspicious that a credit card is being used frequently in Germany, for instance, consider it stolen, and temporarily de-activate the card. One does not want to be in a foreign country without the opportunity to withdraw money. It might seem silly, but save yourself the inconvenience, aware your bank of your trip.
Also before leaving, a traveler should familiarize him/herself with the general exchange rate. These numbers will fluctuate; however, it is a good idea to know the price one should expect when in the country.
Exchange shops in airports are generally more expensive than those in the city. Therefore, it is a smart idea to know how much money it will cost for transportation from the airport to the hotel or hostel and exchange at least that much money before leaving home. One can worry about the rest of the money later.
When exchanging money on the street, many signs say "0% commission." This may be the case; however, travelers should be aware of the selling price and the buying price. The selling price is the amount of money that the person is given for selling the currency. The buying price is the amount of money that the person buys that currency. For instance, if a traveler is in a country that uses the Euro, the person will see on a chart outside of a store:
US Dollars 1.23 1.25
This means that the traveler can buy a Euro for $1.25. This also means that the traveler can get $1.23 for a Euro.
Before actually handing an exchanger any money, always ask how much will be given for a certain amount of money. The prices fluctuate during the day and the person running the currency exchange may not grant what is written on the sign.