Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Exchanging Money

Most banks offer reasonable exchange rates. And using your ATM card overseas is normally reasonable as well. I was able to use my Washington, DC-area bank ATM card in a Citibank ATM in Hong Kong and only got charged a $2.00 fee. Plus the exchange rate was comparable to what the market was charging. Contrast that to the Telex kiosk I used to get some pocket change - which charged me a $6 exchange fee and only gave me 90 cents on the dollar. Telex offered a lousy deal.

Capital One credit cards do not charge an exchange rate. Most other major credit card companies (Chase, Citi, Bank of America,...) charge around 3% on top of your purchase to cover the exchange rate. One thing to keep in mind about Capital One is their credit limits are normally low. So if you do use the Capital One credit card, make sure you don't exceed the credit limit. Otherwise you will get charged an overage fee.

The recommendation is to have enough pocket change to pay for a cab ride to your hotel. Then use your ATM card to get additional cash. And have a few U.S. dollars on hand if the ATMs are down.

A few dollars here and there for the exchange rate doesn't seem like a lot. But I'd rather use that extra money for food and other purchases than give it to the money changers. Some people would rather use their credit cards to collect points for future rewards. Using the options that best suit your needs is always the best way to go. Just remember to spend a little time figuring out what the best options are.

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