Travel Tips

Travel and Money

Casablanca Jewish Quarter shopping

We are often asked to address the issue of traveling to countries with different currencies. Whether you are heading for Israel, Europe, South America, or North Africa, the approach is the same: The U.S. dollar, while undeniably helpful in a pinch, is not your best solution. Local currencies are in countries for a reason, and in many cases, they will be required as the payment standard. In the past, travelers’ checks were popular, but they are all but obsolete in today’s picture. Currency exchange is a crucial aspect of international travel that can significantly impact your financial well-being on the road. In this blog post, we’ll explore the ins and outs of currency exchange, providing savvy travelers with tips and insights to make the most of their global escapades.


Often, travelers prefer to obtain foreign currency in the U.S., thus being prepared from the moment they arrive at their destination. As convenient as it may sound, this approach can have some downsides. First, traditional banks might offer currency exchange but at poor rates, and you will pay more for the local currency than if you made the transaction in the country you visit. If you have currency exchanges nearby, they can offer major international currencies at competitive rates. However, you can obtain local currency once you arrive at your foreign destination, either by using an ATM (with a fee), or by changing dollars at an official exchange. While airport currency exchange booths provide convenience, they often charge higher fees and offer less favorable rates. It should be avoided whenever it is possible.

How much you need is a personal matter. Many travelers are afraid to get stuck with foreign money at the end of their trip. Changing currencies back to US dollars can be made at the airport before departure – again, due to a poor exchange rate. Keep in mind that tips to service providers can be given in local currency – most locals do prefer this approach to getting dollars. This way, you can get rid of unused amounts at the tail end of your journey. Another concern may be your feeling unsafe carrying too much cash, whether in dollars or local currency. Treat it like you do your passport – feel secure by putting most of it in your hotel safe, taking along only what you may need for the day.


You should also bring a credit or debit card to supplement your cash. But come prepared: Let your bank or credit card company know you will be abroad. Most companies have a dedicated place on their website where you can announce your travel plans. You can also call the relevant 800 number. But always inform them about your travel plans. Travelers often get stuck when their cards are canceled because of “unusual” and “suspicious” transactions – your card being used in a new and different country without the bank knowing that the user was you. This surprising precaution that most financial institutions take to stop fraudulent transactions can be avoided by simply remembering to contact them ahead of time.

Using ATMs in your destination country is often the most cost-effective way to get local currency. Contact your bank about international withdrawal fees and inform them of your travel dates to avoid complications. For credit cards,  choose cards with low or no foreign transaction fees. When using the card abroad, always opt to be charged in the local currency to avoid currency conversion fees set by local providers.

You may also want to know if your bank charges fees for using the card abroad. This policy is more common than not, and once you return home, you may see several unexpected charges on your account. Many credit cards offer international transactions without extra fees — but make sure you know which type you have. Credit cards may be a good choice if you select to be charged in the local currency (not US dollars). As for usability, Mastercard and Visa are accepted almost everywhere. American Express cards are often accepted at major stores and hotels but not everywhere. If you do like to use your American Express card, always be prepared to have a backup Mastercard or Visa.


  • Always carry the local currency of the country you visit. Cash dollars may also be handy, but foreign currency is necessary.
  • Obtain foreign currency abroad or at exchange places in the U.S.
  • Bring a credit card or two, and notify the card company that you will travel.
  • Check if fees are involved when using your debit card abroad
  • Check if fees are involved when using your credit card abroad, and remember to choose the local currency when paying.


Always keep in mind that travel should be pleasant. Mastering the art of currency exchange enhances your international travel experience, allowing you to focus on the cultural wonders and not the financial intricacies. By staying informed, making wise choices, and embracing the local currency, you’ll confidently navigate the world of foreign exchange. Safe travels and may your international adventures be filled with unforgettable moments!

© Momentum Tours & Travel

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