How to Exchange Foreign Currency

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There are a lot of factors that go into play when planning an international trip. What time is our flight? What kind of clothes to bring? Boots or sandals? Backpack or purse? What are we going to see? Where are we going to eat? How much money should we bring? Oh wait...other countries don't use the same currency as us - AHHHHH! You may thinking, "Well, quite a few countries do accept the U.S dollar now, why would I need to get their currency?" While the United States is a great country, we have to remember, we are NOT the only country in the world! Our culture, our language, our money are NOT used all over the world. I mean, the reason we travel is to experience different ways of life, right? - So, let's actually immerse ourselves in their culture and use their money. Not to mention, if you do use the dollar, you are probably paying MORE than what you actually should be!

Don't know the first steps in exchanging currency? Check out some tips and tricks below:


Where do I exchange currency?

First place I recommend you try is your bank - Especially if you use a nation wide bank. Below are some links to banks that do exchange currency. If you don't want to use a bank to exchange money, you could always use an online converter and delivery company like Travelex. Travelex has over 50 different currencies for you to choose from. Whatever you do, avoid the kiosks at the airport!! Most of the time, the fees for exchanging are very high. Another option is to pull your cash in US dollars and then wait until you arrive at your destination to exchange. You will have to do some research ahead of time though! You don't want to step off the plane in another country and not know if there is a bank nearby that can exchange currency!

Banks in the US that exchange currency. Click on the name to check out more information.

Bank of America

US Bank


Wells Fargo



How much should I exchange?

You first need to know how much your money is worth in another country. You can either find an online converter or use an app like XEto figure it out! It is VERY important to look this up in advance. While you may want to believe that every person in the world is honest, they are not. If a local recognizes you are a clueless tourist, you will become easy prey and you will leave Costa Rica thinking, "ay caramba!! That place was expensive!"  All in all, be prepared. If you can try to roughly map out your trip, then do so. Try to look up how much certain tours you want to go on are or even limit yourself to a daily budget!


What happens if I didn't exchange enough cash?

Ran out of cash? No worries, most countries do have ATMs but be warned that the exchange rate could be high. Check with your bank or the company you have your credit card with beforehand to see what they will charge for using your card internationally.


In conclusion, exchanging currency may seem scary at first but all it takes is a little research. If you ever have any questions about how, where or how much currency to exchange, you can call me! I would love to help you in any way on your international journeys.