Money Overseas – The Ins and Outs of Currency Exchange

Using money in different countries can get confusing enough at times when you’re constantly calculating conversion rates and economic fluctuations. So here’s a guide on currency exchange and how to get the most out of your money overseas.


How to Calculate Exchange Commission: So you arrive in a foreign land and you need foreign currency. How do you go about it? When you arrive at your destination through the airport or transit station, there will be lots of currency exchangers. AVOID AT ALL COSTS. Try your best not to exchange all your money when you immediately arrive. We recommend that you only use the airport exchangers to change enough money to get to your next hotel and a little bit extra for other transportation. Exchange cash as needed on a weekly or daily basis if possible. Also keep in mind that the bigger the bill, the better the rate. Exchange businesses don’t want your $1s and $5s. Change $100s and $50s for best results. Now how do we know if we’re getting a good deal? First things first, look up what the fair exchange rate is. Google is an amazing and up-to-date resource, along with a number of mobile apps that are great for looking up conversions on the go. Secondly, find an exchange center. They will have “their rate” posted (typically in the front window). Then, use this following formula to find out how much of your money.

(Fair Rate – Their Rate)/ Fair Rate = Commission Rate

**This rate is a percentage. We want to aim for less than 3%.**

Please note that there will sometimes be exchange rates with “better than fair” changes. We typically assume that business is converting with mixed counterfeits.

Money With Friends: Venmo/Paypal/Cash App/Facebook Pay/Snapchat. Whether you’re splitting the bill or settling some debt, sending and receiving money on-the-go is easy as ever. Here is a list of apps that we like. Source.

    • Venmo: Our favorite way to send each other money. “Any payments made from your Venmo balance, most debit cards, or a bank account, cost nothing to execute, and Venmo charges just a 3 percent fee for credit cards. It boasts a “bank-grade” security system, so you won’t have to worry about any shady hackers getting ahold of your financial information, either.”
    • PayPal: Some businesses take PayPal. One of the original money transfer apps.
    • Facebook Pay: Easy to find friends. Just link a debit, credit, or bank account.
    • SnapCash (via SnapChat): Relatively under-used. Partnered with Square Cash
    • Square Cash:  “Perhaps its most useful feature is how quick money deposits into your bank account once a transaction is complete.” It has a pretty sweet online system.
    • Chase QuickPay: “Though Chase customers have access to a slew of banking options within Chase’s smartphone application, non-customers with valid email addresses also have the ability to send and receive money using the bank’s QuickPay feature.”
    • Bank of America: Just provide a phone number or email address and send money and receive money from anyone. Fairly basic money transfer application. (more on Bank of America later!)
    • Western Union: Allows money to be transferred to over 200+ countries! ” It also lets you know how much your money transfers should cost, and provides all Western Union branch listings.”
    • Xoom Money Transfer: “Like Western Union, Xoom allows users to send and receive money all over the globe. The app also features low transfer fees, locked-in exchange rates, status updates, and push notifications of any sent or received money.”
Bank of America is a good bank to use if you plan on bringing a debit card or credit card. Bank of America has international partners with different banks all over the world that allow you to withdraw money without getting charged a $5 fee. (Just be wary that they may still charge a 1%-3% fee of your withdraw although they don’t seem to be charging that fee anymore.) Anyways, here’s a list of banks that are partnered with BoA!
  • Barclays United Kingdom
  • ABSA
  • BNP Paribas
  • BNL D’Italia
  • Deutsche Bank
  • UKRSibbank
  • TEB
  • Scotiabank
  • Westpac Bank China Construction Bank


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