Before You Travel: Exchange Your Currency
For the most part, I use my Chase Sapphire card when I travel abroad because there are no international transaction fees and that’s amazing. However, there are minimal fees if I need to take money out of an ATM abroad. That is not amazing.
That said, if it’s possible (and it’s almost always possible because who plans an international trip with less than a week notice?) I’d highly recommend that you order the currency (or currencies) of the countries you’ll be traveling to in advance of leaving.
The main photo is of the currencies that I ordered before my trek to four Scandinavian countries in 2015. I was going to 4 (technically five if you counted my day trip to Tallinn, Estonia) countries that all used difference currencies – wee! – and even though I knew I would be using my credit card most of the time, I still wanted to have SOME cash on me. So, a week or two ahead of time, I walked to my bank and ordered Danish Krone, Norwegian Krone, Swedish Krona, and Euros, which arrived a few days later.
With my trip booked to Budapest, Bratislava, and Vienna, I had to start thinking about ordering currency ahead of time again. Although lots of western European countries are lightyears ahead of us technology-wise, I’m not sure Hungary really falls into the category of western Europe, so I should probably have some Hungarian ‘Forint’ on me, as well as a few Euros when I’m in Vienna and Brastislava.
This was a long winded way of saying: Skip the ATM fees and order your currency ahead of time. You’ll thank me later when you don’t have to deal with foreign ATM fees. And while you’re at it: sign up for a credit card with zero foreign transaction fees, too.