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7 Practical Tips for Travel Currency, Keep Money Safe While Traveling

Traveling with foreign currency can be intimidating. You can get overcharged, lose track of spending, or even have your money stolen. But there are ways to keep money safe while traveling. Here we’ll discuss tips for travel currency to keep your wallet safe and secure.


But first, let’s discuss the risks associated with traveling with foreign currency. From theft to being overcharged, and even falling for foreign currency scams, traveling with foreign currency has its share of risks. 


These practical tips for travel currency will help you avoid the risks associated with being in a foreign country with foreign currency so you can enjoy safe travels and fond memories.

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The Risks Associated with Carrying Foreign Currency

In the more touristy locations, pickpockets operate more frequently making theft of foreign currency from tourists one of the biggest safety considerations. But not all theft goes detected.


When using foreign currency abroad, you run the risk of being overcharged. Unless you’re a mathematical genius, constantly calculating the foreign currency exchange can be difficult. And it’s easy to overcharge tourists who are none the wiser.


Apart from being overcharged and having your money stolen when traveling, you also run the risk of coming into foreign currency scams. 


One common foreign currency scam to be aware of when traveling is currency exchange fraud. This scam involves exchanging money with an unauthorized money changer or using an ATM that has been rigged to steal your card information or dispense counterfeit money.


In some cases, the scam artist may offer an attractive exchange rate that is significantly higher than the market rate to entice you to exchange your currency. However, when you receive the exchanged money, it may be counterfeit or worth considerably less than the advertised rate.


Alternatively, they may give you a short count, meaning they’ll give you fewer banknotes than you’re supposed to receive, hoping you don’t notice.


Another variant of this scam is where a person offers to help you exchange money in a crowded area, like a marketplace or train station, and then steals your money or swaps it for counterfeit bills when you’re not looking.


The good news is there are ways to keep money safe while traveling. Keep reading for our tips for travel currency.

tips for travel currency

Think Ahead and Travel Safe with These Tips for Travel Currency

Now that you know just a few of the ways your foreign currency can be at risk while traveling, let’s jump into our tips for travel currency:


Research Ahead to Be Aware of Tourist Scams

Before you visit your holiday destination, research to check if there are any foreign currency scams that are common in the area. Travel forums and local embassy websites can be very useful sources of information.


The most common scams that are seen across the world are; Taxi drivers deliberately taking longer routes to charge you more, cashiers pretending to take a phone call while taking a photo of your bank card, and someone ‘accidentally’ spilling something on your jacket and then helping to clean it up for a chance to check your pockets.


Scammers will even offer bracelets and flowers and then later demand payment or offer to take a photo and then ask for payment or run away with your camera/phone.


Removing the cash you’re carrying is always beneficial when it comes to theft. But if you must carry foreign currency, it’s best to exchange currency only at authorized exchange centers, banks, or ATMs.

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Before exchanging money, check the current exchange rate and compare it to the rate being offered to ensure you’re getting a fair deal. And avoid exchanging money with strangers or using unsecured ATMs in unfamiliar areas.


It’s also a good idea to keep an eye on your currency and count your money carefully after any exchange and report any suspicious activity to the authorities if you think you’ve been scammed.


Again, not carrying cash on you is probably the safest option. Credit cards and forex cards are also much easier to conceal and hold safe, and if your card gets stolen, you won’t lose money.


Simply report your card missing, and you’ll be unattached from any unauthorized purchases you have been exposed to.


While having some cash on hand is always good, using a credit card can significantly simplify your spending needs when traveling overseas. The sometimes difficult task of converting currency can be removed, and holding the right credit card removes unnecessary foreign transaction fees.


Using a credit card will not automatically make your overseas spending cheaper. By following these tips for travel currency, you could make your traveling experience closer to the financial goals you have.


It also pays to choose the best credit card for travel if you have the time.

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Use a Credit Card with No Foreign Transaction Fee

Up next on our tips for travel currency is to save money with no transaction fees as many credit card issuers charge fees for purchases made overseas with foreign merchants.


These fees range from 1% to 3% for each transaction you make which can result in a considerable price increase compared to buying things from home. Even a long weekend can result in these costs adding up.


When embarking on an international trip, why not try a forex card? They usually have a reduced transaction fee or no fee compared to debit and credit cards.


Using a forex card also typically uses lesser conversion charges than you would get from converting your money into cash. For many international travelers, a forex card is the best option to pay for goods, products, and services.


If a forex card isn’t something you want to use, always check your credit card agreement before you depart. This agreement will show you if there are any fees for using your card abroad.


If you find there are transaction fees, do some research and apply for a card without any. Be prepared and apply enough in advance to allow for approval and account setup and receive your card.


Foreign transaction fees can also occur from online purchases, something to bear in mind if you’re booking hotels and accommodation that uses the local currency of the country it resides.


Call Your Credit Card Issuer Before Leaving

Once you have acquired the card you want to use on your travels, alert the issuer that you’re going abroad and ask for the number required to call if any assistance is needed.


Making this contact will not only ensure your card doesn’t get suspended for any suspicious activities, but it will give you a place to ring – free of charge – if anything happens.


Some card issuers no longer require the cardholder to alert them of upcoming trips. Be sure to find out whether your card supplier needs this information.

tips for travel currency

Avoid Dynamic Currency Conversion

It is essential to try and always avoid dynamic currency conversion. This feature allows you to make purchases with your credit card in foreign countries using your home currency.


It can be difficult to relate a foreign currency to our home currency while out shopping, especially off the top of our heads right at the moment. Foreign merchants have taken advantage of this fact at the checkout counter, offering a final quote higher than the current exchange rate.


Avoiding getting caught up in foreign currency scams and unnecessary costs is relatively simple. All you need to do is refuse to sign any receipt or check that isn’t expressed in the local currency.


If you have worries about understanding the costs of each meal or goods on your trip, the best thing to do is brush up on conversion rates before you set out on your trip. Another thing you can do is download a currency exchange app on your phone, which will complete all the calculations right in front of you.

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Memorize Your PIN

The introduction of chip-and-PIN technology in Europe has resulted in some credit card terminals still requiring cardholders to enter their personal identification number (PIN). Don’t leave town without it; make sure it’s set up and memorized.


Merchants still use a less sophisticated magnetic strip system in some countries. Therefore, some merchants may not accept your credit card if you don’t have proper identification.


If you have your passport with you, you shouldn’t have any problems. To verify the authorization of a credit card purchase, merchants need to verify the person using the card is the authorized user.

hotel safe, tips for travel currency

Keep Any Cash You Hold Safe

Again, if you must carry cash, it’s important to keep your money safe while traveling. You can split it up and place it in different locations on your body to avoid any unwanted attention.


Carrying all your cash in one place can be detrimental if it is lost or stolen as all your money will be gone. The safest place to keep your cash is the hotel found in the safe in your hotel room if you have one.


If there isn’t one in your room, or you really need to carry cash on your person, try keeping your money in a money belt, neck pouch, or sash-proof anti-theft bag.


Avoiding Pickpockets

Pickpocketing and purse-snatching are more common in tourist-heavy areas so always stay vigilant when it comes to your belongings. In places where tourists congregate in big groups be aware of your surroundings and where all your valuables are on yourself.


If you want to try and keep your valuables and money safe, consider these tips for travel currency; Refer to your map in cafes and bars, not on the street. Keep your bags or purses secure and visible.


Always have them in front of you rather than on your back. Split your money up in different locations on your body. If possible, leave some cash at your hotel.


This one may be difficult but be aware of crowded spaces. While you’re eyeballing busy streets and shops, scammers are eyeballing you. So, you can even wear a money belt and keep it concealed under your clothes.


Final Thoughts

There are ways to minimize the cost and hassle of overseas travel, even though it can be confusing and expensive. It’s entirely possible to keep money safe while traveling. You can save money, avoid theft, and foreign currency scams with the tips above.


If you have a credit card that doesn’t charge foreign transaction fees or a forex card be sure to tell your credit card company of your travel plans, and only make purchases that are expressed in the local currency.


The final result is that you don’t need to worry about currency conversion rates and dealing with foreign currency on a trip overseas. After getting the right cards, you can devote your attention to what’s important: having a good time or getting on with your business.


So, be sure to follow these tips for travel currency so you can avoid theft, foreign currency scams, and overcharging so you can keep money safe while traveling and focus on living in the moment.

Christa Thompson

Christa Thompson is the Founder and Chief Editor of The Fairytale Traveler. She started traveling the world in 2003 when she attended a summer abroad study at the University of Cambridge in England. Since then, her wanderlust has been fierce. Her three passions in life are her son, traveling, and being creative. The Fairytale Traveler brand gives Christa the opportunity to do all of these things and to live intentionally every day. "It's never too late to believe in what you love and to pursue your dreams." -Christa Thompson

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