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Post Office Exchange Rate - Should I Use the Exchange Rate of a Bank, Cambio Booth, or Post Office?

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When visiting foreign countries, one thing all travelers have to deal with is foreign currency. Unless you live in the European Union, chances are you will have to have your currency exchanged for the local currency.

This can be a good or a bad experience depending on the current value of your own country’s currency compared to that of the foreign country. In some cases, you may end up saving a lot of money after you discover your currency is much more valuable than the local currency. Alternatively, your currency may not be worth as much as the local currency and you could end up having to pay a lot more for your trip than you had originally planned.

Either way, one of the things you’ll want to be sure to do is get the best deal on the exchange rate that is used to covert your currency. You may have heard horror stories of travelers getting ripped off when their currency was exchanged at a rate that they later discovered was very inaccurate.

This leaves the question of where you should go to have your currency exchanged. You may be wondering whether or not you should use your bank, your credit card, American express, a Cambio booth at the airport, or the post office. The exchange rate used by different entities may differ wildly from what the actual exchange rate should be. Certain services will also charge you hefty fees, virtually making the exchange rate much worse than it actually is. So you must be careful about how you choose to have your money converted.

First, you should educate yourself on what different banks and credit card companies charge for transactions made overseas. Sometimes, a hefty fee may be involved. This fee can sometimes be as much as three percent of the total transaction. Obviously, this would not be a preferable situation for someone looking to save as much money as possible.

However, many other times, this may not be case. You may actually be able to get the best rate by using your debit or credit card. Often, you may get the actual exchange rate that a bank offers to another bank in that country when you use your debit or credit cards. If you are not sure that your bank or credit card company charges such fees, you should call them and find out. If they do charge hefty fees, you shop around for another bank or credit card company that does not.

However, one card you should not ever use overseas is American Express. The reason for this is that the fees they charge for foreign purchases are rather exorbitant. Compared to Visa or Master Card, the fees charged may be as much as five percent higher. Using American Express traveler’s checks may be a slightly better deal since there are no fees charged to process them. However, finding an office that will cash those traveler’s checks can sometimes be quite a problem.

You should also avoid Cambio booths. You may spot many of these in foreign airports or at the train station. These booths should only be used in emergencies. They should not be used for converting your money if you have other options. The fees charged at these booths for exchanging your currency can be extremely high. They may be convenient. However, an ATM that does not charge such a high rate for the exchange will definitely be a much better option.

Another good choice is your local post office. You may be able to visit your post office and have your currency exchanged for you before you leave on your trip. You can save yourself a lot of grief on your trip if you actually received the foreign currency you are going to use before hand from the post office. An exchange rate from the post office, however, may not be the same as what the actual exchange rate should be. If your post office charges a lot more than the regular exchange rate, you should consider other options.

Over all, the most important thing is to make sure you are aware of what the current exchange rate between the two countries actually is so you can get the best deal. You can find this rate online. You should also bring a calculator with you on your trip so you can make sure you are getting a fair deal when having your currency exchanged.

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