Your money is very important to you. You work hard for it and as a result you always want to make sure it is protected and not wasted. With the Canadian dollar sitting well below the United States Dollar, the Pound, and the Euro, you want to minimize the loss you incur in the event you ever need to exchange your money for one of these currencies.

If not, you will find yourself very tight on that business trip or vacation you have had planned for months. The chances of you losing at least some money when you exchange your currency are high but following these tips will allow you to walk away without a large portion of your money being squandered.

1. Establish how much money you need

Because you will be charged for every transaction you make while abroad, you typically want to initiate as few exchanges as possible. If you see carrying cash as an absolute necessity (as opposed to traveller’s cheques or credit cards), determine how much you need to take with you.

This will allow you to avoid multiple withdrawals and per-transaction fees. Typically, exchange rates will be better in the country you are visiting. Therefore, it would be beneficial to take the amount of money you need and exchange it upon arrival.

2. Be cautious with your ATM card

It is true that using your debit card is convenient because it is usually as good as cash and unlike cash you have less to worry about if it is stolen. A PIN number is needed to access your funds and there is a process to get reimbursed in the event the money in your account is stolen.

However, your debit card will be charged at foreign ATMs by the local bank as well as your own bank. Therefore if you need to use it, make sure it has low ATM international withdrawal fees. Using a credit card with no foreign transactions fees may be a better option to minimize the costs you sustain when spending abroad.

3. Shop around

No matter where you go, there are usually a number of places where money exchange is available. Hotels and independent exchange kiosks have higher exchange rates whereas airports and banks tend to have better rates. No matter where you choose to go, ask what the exchange rate and their commission is before making transactions.

Be cautious of currency exchange places that advertise no fees or significantly lower rates. Places like this sometimes offer a worse exchange rate to make up for lost fees or have additional fees not advertised. To guarantee you get what you pay for, ask how much you would get in return for a specific amount. Make sure you receive what the specified amount is.

4. Use an online foreign exchange company

Most people are not familiar with exchanging currency through online companies but it is a good way to save money on exchanges. Typically when using such companies, the user signs up for a free account and contacts the centre to receive a favourable and locked-in exchange rate. The company then sends an email with instructions how to send the currency you want changed and the user then sends the funds.

The exchanged money is then placed into the user’s account within a week and it can then be transferred to any desired bank account. Some companies even offer home delivery, in-store pickup, or delivery to a specified airport. There are many people that would not trust this process but reputable companies are government-regulated and your money can easily be tracked while going through the process.


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Mo is a seasoned traveller and an adventurous spirit who dreams of visiting every country around the world. When he's not travelling, you might find him writing and cataloguing about his recent trips.