Heads-up travelers can save themselves headaches while traveling overseas with just a little forethought. The American Automobile Association (AAA) suggests that travelers should plan to use a variety of payment methods.
Traveling with the right mix of payment methods can smooth your way. Plan to carry travelers checks, a credit card, cash in local currency, and a debit card. As a general rule, use:
~~~THE TRAVELERS CHECKS to pay for goods purchased abroad;
~~~THE CREDIT CARD for major purchases such as hotel stays;
~~~LOCAL CURRENCY to pay for small things such as tips and taxis;and
~~~THE DEBIT CARD to get cash from local bank ATMs.
Several weeks prior to leaving the U.S. exchange a small amount of cash into the local currency of your destination, since you may need it immediately upon arrival. This can be done at any bank or international airport.
Currency exchange rates change on a daily basis, so be sure to monitor the exchange rate for your destination for a few weeks before you leave home, and exchange currency when the rate is favorable. Buy your travelers checks before leaving to save the additional five to ten percent cost of exchanging currency once you get overseas.
Be aware that some bank cards add two to three percent to wholesale foreign exchange rates to cover exchange costs. Check with your card issuer.
AAA can be of great assistance to travelers headed overseas. Many of their offices provide no-fee American Express Travelers Cheques and Cheques for Two in U.S. and many foreign currencies. These may also be deliverable to a members home or office with Travel Funds Direct. Call your local AAA office to inquire.
Visit the AAA Web site, www.aaa.com, for more useful travel information. With a little advance planning, you can concentrate on sightseeing and leave your financial worries behind.