Upon arrival, I understand that many of you may be confused about how to go about your money. Many programs recommend exchanging your dollars before you travel to a new country. The problem is that no one wants to travel around a foreign country with wads of cash in their pockets! So, what to do? No worries! I’m going to tell you.
I actually recommend quite the opposite of many study abroad programs. I believe it is a lot easier to arrive in a foreign country with your local currency, and then exchange portions while you are in a foreign country. NEVER exchange your money at the airport! A lot of the time, they will offer you the worst exchange rates. I made the sad mistake of doing this and received significantly less than what I would have if I had gone to an ATM or a local bank. Another thing, when you are wondering how much to take out of your bank account or exchange, it is best to take out more than less. I say this because you will always be charged with the same exchange rate and international fee. For those of you who may be confused, I will give you an example. Okay, so the exchange rate is five dollars and you will be charged with an international fee of two dollars. These fees will always remain constant. With every amount that you withdraw from the bank, you will be charged with a fee of seven dollars. Therefore, if you want to save the most money, it makes more sense to withdraw $100 from the bank versus making two withdraws of $50. Yes, you just saved seven dollars!
Something else to keep in mind, credit cards can sometimes be tricky while abroad. Various local banks from your city may not charge a large fee for withdrawals; however, many businesses in your foreign country may not accept those banks. Also, many students are afraid of fraud when they are constantly swiping plastic left and right. A way to minimize fraud is by explaining to your bank your situation. Depending on the institution, it is possible that they offer a VISA card that will only work with person-to-person transactions. This means that if someone attempts to steal your number, they will not be able to use the card for online transactions. Personally, I feel a lot safer knowing that I can avoid the stress of calling my company to cancel my card…yet again.
There are many options for handling money while abroad! You just have to figure out what works best for you. I hope I was able to answer a few questions that you all may not have even thought of yet! Chao!