Author Topic: Where can I buy foreign currency in a mustachian way?  (Read 2919 times)

puglogic

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Where can I buy foreign currency in a mustachian way?
« on: August 21, 2016, 07:06:01 AM »
Mustachians who travel:

I need to buy some British Pounds but it has been years since I"ve traveled abroad.  My bank wants US$25 just to buy ANY, and their exchange rate is crap.  I've checked AAA and Travelex as well, still far off the published exchange rate.  What's the best way to get some travelin' cash without getting ripped off?

I'm also a bit worried about the fees that might be charged if I use credit/debit cards abroad, but I can do that homework easily enough - but if anyone has a story about that, I'm all ears.

Thanks, gang!



WerKater

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Re: Where can I buy foreign currency in a mustachian way?
« Reply #1 on: August 21, 2016, 07:26:41 AM »
I always just get it from an ATM in the country I am visiting with my VISA card. The exchange rate has always been very reasonable.

Nothlit

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Re: Where can I buy foreign currency in a mustachian way?
« Reply #2 on: August 21, 2016, 07:32:16 AM »
The easiest way I have found is simply to use your credit card abroad, and avoid cash. It is easy to find cards that do not charge a foreign currency conversion fee. Capital One, for instance, typically has no foreign transaction fees on any of their cards.

If you really need cold hard cash in a foreign currency, the best way is to withdraw it from an ATM after you arrive in that country. Here is a survey of several banks and what their ATM & debit transaction fees are for foreign transactions. I use Alliant Credit Union and can confirm they charge only the 1% Visa network fee for foreign ATM withdrawals, which is pretty good.

Edited to add:

When I traveled to London last year, I didn't withdraw any cash until several days into my trip. London is a rather card-friendly city, at least for tourists, it seems.

Here are some more recommendations from Rick Steves (the goofy PBS travel guy)
« Last Edit: August 21, 2016, 07:49:30 AM by Nothlit »

Paul der Krake

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Re: Where can I buy foreign currency in a mustachian way?
« Reply #3 on: August 21, 2016, 07:49:04 AM »
MasterCards with no foreign transaction fees get the MC rate that is extremely close to the going rate that particular day. Just make sure to select the country's home currency instead of dollars if the terminal offers you the choice.

Davids

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Re: Where can I buy foreign currency in a mustachian way?
« Reply #4 on: August 21, 2016, 08:55:07 AM »
Since you are going to the UK you can use a credit card anywhere there so just get one with no forex fees and you should be fine.

Kwill

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Re: Where can I buy foreign currency in a mustachian way?
« Reply #5 on: August 21, 2016, 09:21:15 AM »
Echoing everyone else, the easiest thing is to get cash via an ATM when you get to the country. Your bank charges extra because it's a pain to get you cash in a different currency, but ATM machines spit out local cash regardless of where your card is from. There's probably some fee or a cost built into the exchange rate, but it should be less than buying a foreign currency while still in the States.

Use a credit card where you can so as to need less cash. If you have multiple credit cards, check the details before you go to see which has the lowest international fees and best exchange rate terms.

In the UK, you might find it easier if your credit card has a chip. Also there's ATM machines at Heathrow airport before you get on the train to the city.

If you have multiple debit/ATM cards and credit cards, bring more than one of each, just in case you run into some weird problem. I like to keep something in a separate bag so that I can still get around if I lose my wallet.

MsPeacock

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Re: Where can I buy foreign currency in a mustachian way?
« Reply #6 on: August 21, 2016, 11:03:53 AM »
So the days of needing cash before you travel have passed. Same with travelers checks. Your ATM card will work and a chip credit card will be accepted in 99% of the places you go. There will be an ATM at the airport. Worse case scenario take $100 with you and change it at the airport. (Few places now change currency anymore, as well. ). ATM fees are minimal, maybe $2-$3. I try to take out $200 or so upon arrival to hold me for an entire trip and use credit cards otherwise.

Catbert

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Re: Where can I buy foreign currency in a mustachian way?
« Reply #7 on: August 21, 2016, 01:10:39 PM »
If you want just a tiny bit of cash in your pocket when you hit the airport try asking friends/coworkers.  Returning travelers often have 10-20 pounds or euros left which they just save until next time. 

forummm

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Re: Where can I buy foreign currency in a mustachian way?
« Reply #8 on: August 21, 2016, 06:32:01 PM »
In the UK you don't need much if any cash at all if you bring your plastic. We went to Canada and spent exactly $0 in cash for a week.

If you were going to a developing country, some USD would be fine (changing it with currency change vendors can yield good exchange rates IME).

Ebrat

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Re: Where can I buy foreign currency in a mustachian way?
« Reply #9 on: August 23, 2016, 03:03:21 PM »
Capital One 360 for ATMs (and as someone noted, pick the foreign currency option, not the dollars option if there is one...got dinged on that once this summer) and Capital One credit card. No transactions fees except a few bucks charged by the bank providing the ATM, and the exchange rate is the published rate as far as I can tell.

meghan88

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Re: Where can I buy foreign currency in a mustachian way?
« Reply #10 on: August 23, 2016, 05:36:06 PM »
If you go to the same country on a regular basis, see if you can open a bank account there.  If you can, then you can transfer money to yourself via www.xe.com at auspicious times (e.g., when you have a little extra cash and when exchange rates are down).  An online service like xe has a much lower "spread" on currency exchange, and you can send funds at your convenience.

Caveat:  you need to look into the banking fees at the foreign bank.  I have an account in France and I use it to send Euros to myself.  I can write checks to people from that account (e.g., to rent lodgings) and it doesn't cost me a cent, but when I ventured into my own branch in France to withdraw some cash, they charged me 10 Euros for the withdrawal, because my banking plan didn't allow for that.  Lesson learned.

You might also look into opening a savings and checking account and transferring between the two as you might require.  The savings account might earn minimal interest but it's better than nothing.

llorona

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Re: Where can I buy foreign currency in a mustachian way?
« Reply #11 on: August 23, 2016, 05:41:49 PM »
I agree with Ebrat regarding Capital One's credit card. I just made an international purchase using the card. There was no transaction fee and I was charged the day's going exchange rate.

dragoncar

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Re: Where can I buy foreign currency in a mustachian way?
« Reply #12 on: August 23, 2016, 06:02:36 PM »
Above is correct using ATM and capital one (or similar).

But what if you need a lot of cash?  Well I know about this first hand because I got married abroad and wanted to minimize the spread+fees.

I opened a citigold account.  Now at the time this account required a $50k minimum balance or you were charged a $35 monthly fee.  But the first few months were waived.  I was able to withdraw around $2k US per day from an actual Citibank ATM (has to be a country with Citibank presence).  There is no fee and you get the interbank rate.

I heard recently they are changing up the requirements for this account.  Last time o checked, if you had $100k with them in retirement funds, that also satisfied the minimum.  I haven't transferred to them, but if I ever move abroad I probably will transfer an Ira to them (in kind) and just continue to hold my securities.  This would avoid high transaction fees

For serious amounts of money, I wonder about using forex.  I wonder what people do when they buy property abroad-- just eat the 1-2%?
« Last Edit: August 23, 2016, 06:04:39 PM by dragoncar »

meghan88

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Re: Where can I buy foreign currency in a mustachian way?
« Reply #13 on: August 23, 2016, 06:09:53 PM »
Wondering if anyone has ever bought or sold foreign currency on Craigslist.  Seems to me that that there's an opportunity to do away with exchange fees and spreads.  But I'm sure there are rules ...?