Consumer Payment Card News

Juggling Foreign Currency

Consumers who travel abroad infrequently need to carry the right money mix says the AAA. Rather than pack a wallet full of colorful cash and pockets jingling with unfamiliar coins, AAA Worldwide Travel experts say the right mix involves several payment methods: cash, traveler’s checks, ATM cards, debit cards and credit cards. As a general rule, carry traveler’s checks to pay for goods purchased abroad; use credit cards for major purchases such as hotel stays; and use cash for small things such as tips and taxis. Hide money you won’t spend that day in a money belt or hidden pouch. Traveler’s checks usually get a better exchange rate than cash-for-cash currency exchanges. AAA offices offer fee-free traveler’s checks to members. The U.S. dollar and U.S. dollar traveler’s checks are readily exchanged throughout the world. Always protect your traveler’s checks as you would cash and keep a list of the serial numbers separate so if they are lost or stolen, you can get them replaced. U.S. debit cards and ATM cards are gaining wider foreign acceptance and are also a convenient way to get cash, often without paying transaction fees. But if you lose an ATM or debit card, getting a replacement while on vacation will not be easy. One final tip regarding credit cards: a few card issuers have started adding 2-3 percent to wholesale foreign exchange rates on purchases made abroad. If you have a choice of credit cards to use, find out, before you leave, what each charges for this type of transaction.

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