After paying for flights and accommodation, by the time you get to your destination you want to be able to make the most out of what hard-earned spending money you have left. There are several options for spending money overseas.
Most foreign currencies are available through your local bank, NZ Post or outlets such as Travelex. If you can’t obtain the correct currency for the country you are travelling to or you’re visiting several countries, take an internationally accepted currency with you, like US Dollars.
It’s sensible to carry at least enough cash for incidental expenses that will arise when you first arrive in your destination, ie transport from the airport, refreshments, luggage trolley hire and arrival tax, which is payable in cash at some airports.
Check out www.xe.com for current exchange rates to work out conversions.
Credit cards are the most versatile way to spend money when overseas. You don’t have to carry large amounts of cash around with you and you don’t spend your precious vacation time changing travellers cheques.
The exchange rate used by your credit card provider is generally much better than those in banks or at a bureau de change. Plus if your card is lost of stolen you are protected from unauthorised use if you report it missing as soon as you realize.
Ensure you find out what fees and charges will be applied to your account for overseas transactions before you leave so you don’t get a nasty surprise when your return!
To see where your card is accepted, take a look at these online ATM locators.
Travel cards are an easy, convenient option for foreign travel. Travel cards allow you to spend in the local currency and are perfect for everyday expenses. Load them up with foreign currency before you leave and lock in your exchange rate. The ATM cards can be used at designated ATMs to withdraw cash and the prepaid Mastercard or Visa cards can be used just like a regular credit card for purchases or to get cash from ATMs. When it’s running low on funds, simply top it up online. Travel cards can be very handy when you are trying to stick to a holiday budget as you can only spend what is loaded on the card.
Some banks offer a Debit Card that can be used like a credit card. It is linked to your bank account so you can only spend what you have available but it has the added advantage of being able to use it where credit cards are accepted and for online shopping.
Not as popular as they once used to be for overseas travel, travellers cheques are still convenient, easy to use and accepted in thousands of shops, hotels and banks. They have the advantage that if they are lost or stolen they can generally be replaced within 24 hours. Just make sure to keep your travellers cheques receipts separate from your travel money. Before you commit to using travellers cheques, ask your travel agent if they are used in your destination.
Having either the internet, your banks app or phone banking makes it easier to move money out of your NZ bank account whilst you are away.
Call your bank before you leave to let them know you will be overseas. This will stop them from putting a hold on your account if they notice any large sums of money being spent while you’re travelling.
Find out what your bank can offer travellers. Some have international alliances that can save you money on transaction fees if you use their ATMs.
Make a photocopy of your cards, the information page of your passport, plane tickets and other important documents before you leave. Leave a copy with a friend or family member and keep another copy with you (separate from your cards and documents). Don’t forget to include contact details in case your cards or travellers cheques are stolen.
Keep your money with you. Don’t pack cash or bank cards into your checked luggage – bring it onto the plane with you. And when you reach your destination it’s not a good idea to leave money or cards in your hotel room unless it’s securely located in a safe. Money belts or pouches that go under your clothes are ideal for keeping your money safe whilst on the go.