1. Should I change money at my own bank at home?
The exchange rate is very, very different from bank to bank! However, a general rule applies: your bank at home for the money always demands a worse exchange rate than a bank in your holiday destination. Why? Your bank must first transport foreign currencies to Germany and keeps them in stock. The other currency is already there abroad. You bring your own Euros.
That is why an exchange office, for example in London, can offer a better rate for buying sterling with Euros than your bank at home. The costs for the exchange office abroad are lower.
- Should I change money before I go on vacation?
For 98% of all travel destinations it is better to change money only on vacation.
Your bank at home, various online services and exchange offices always charge a worse rate in Germany than in your travel destination.
It only pays to switch money at home if you are going to a country where it is difficult to get cash. This is not an issue in any of the popular tourist destinations.For example, in China it can be a problem to find a machine that accepts European debit or credit cards outside of cities.
This is not a problem in all European countries, South and North America and all typical Asian and African travel destinations.
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- Avoid exchange offices at the airport, train station and nearby sights!
The exchange offices at the airport pay a lot for their location. They also understand that there is little alternative to them. Therefore, the exchange offices at the airport, sometimes at train stations and nearby sights, can charge a worse rate.
Only change money at the airport if you really need to. It is therefore best to exchange only a small part of your Euros at the airport or train station, for example only for a taxi or public transport.
In case of doubt, the exchange office at the airport is usually cheaper than changing the money at home.
ATMs and card readers abroad often ask the question during the transaction: Settling in Euros or in the local currency?
The DCC disguised as a service costs you 10% of your money. ATMs particularly liked to have installed the query near sights, airports and train stations. A classic example is the ubiquitous yellow and blue Euro net machines near sights in Europe.
The vending machine owners use other phrases such as: Settling at a fixed exchange rate? Or guaranteed exchange rate! Or Settling in Euros?
Always press No and settle the transaction in the local currency! If you have questions that are misleading, you have to think briefly.
Again the general rule of thumb, because it is so important! Always settle transactions abroad in the local currency! Are you in England Then settle with British pounds sterling instead of Euros?
- First change money, and then pay in the restaurant!
The exchange rate is particularly bad if you pay with Euros abroad in a restaurant or a shop.
The course is certainly worse than in an exchange office, with card payment or at an ATM.
Keep in mind that the waiter will have to carry your Euros to an exchange office later. There he pays the exchange rate and wants money for his additional work.
My experience is that restaurants are on average at least 10% worse off than exchange offices.
Sometimes you can still negotiate the exchange rate. This allows you to get out a few percent. Paying in Euros instead of in the local currency is still a makeshift solution that pays off very, very rarely.
- Remember to compare the exchange rate!
If possible, always compare the course in the exchange offices! This is usually easy in tourist destinations.
Exchange offices usually have a better rate away from the sights. Although there is more exchange offices near a lot of the places visited, which drives the competition, the high rental prices in city centers unfortunately result in an average high price level.
Remember to compare if the exchange offices charge a fee. This is almost always the case in countries like Denmark or the United Kingdom. In countries like Turkey, the Czech Republic or Hungary, very, very few exchange offices charge an additional fee
- Typical tourist traps when changing money!
Wrong course: the good course is on a neon sign and the bad course on the receipt or in lower case as a valid course close to the advertisement. It is one of the international classics among tourist traps. Always ask before changing money about the course and pay close attention to what is on the receipt. Do not sign receipts in a foreign language! The exchange offices in Prague are notorious for this!
Hidden fees: Although there are a big No fees or No commission at the entrance, the exchange office still charges a fee.
Counting money: whether unintentionally or intentionally – calculate exactly how much cost money you give the exchange office, how much you should get and how much you ultimately hold in your hand. This is a problem especially near party districts abroad. Keyword alcohol.
Street vendors: no matter in which country – never change your money on the street! The chance of counterfeit money, a scam or any other problems is then maximum. In some countries, locals like to change euro coins on the street. This can be okay because exchange offices rarely exchange euro coins abroad.
Mix up money: some countries have introduced coins that look like 1 or 2 euro coins. For example, this is a problem in Turkey and Poland.
- Scams with ATMs on vacation
High standards: some ATMs only have very large sums to choose from. At the Charles Bridge in Prague, for example, the machines display amounts starting at 10,000 crowns. That’s the equivalent of 400 €! You must first select a smaller amount manually. There are also high fees and dynamic currency conversion queries. Such a transaction easily brings the ATM operator € 40 or more.
Land currency: I have already mentioned Dynamic Currency Conversion with the additional fees for transactions in Euros. The problem is international, whether you are in Thailand, Sweden or the USA. Always withdraw money in the local currency and pay in the local currency!
Fixed exchange rate: this happens very often within the airport terminals. The machines have an exchange rate set by the operator, which is very much to your disadvantage. Always withdraw money outside the terminals or with a normal ATM in the city. Also avoid tourist-like vending machines near tourist attractions and use the branches of local banks.
- Remember the foreign currency fee when paying with cards!
Within the EU, withdrawing money with a third-party machine costs the same as in Germany. That’s an average of 4 to 6 € per transaction. The exact conditions depend on your bank. Some do not charge any fees at all, some are particularly strict. With credit cards you generally get out better than with a normal EC card.
Travel credit cards are even better. With them you pay no bank withdrawals for money and no foreign currency fee.
- Use free travel credit cards!
V Pay EC cards only work in Europe. You have to activate Maestro EC cards abroad. Credit cards are therefore necessary for many travel destinations. They have cheaper fees and are a backup for unexpected expenses.
Travel credit cards are particularly cheap. There are now dozens of them on the market.
My recommendation is the Genial Visa Card from Hanseatic Bank. In my opinion, it has the best conditions by far. You pay no annual fee, no third-party machine fee and the billing works automatically.
The catch of all other travel credit cards is that they do not settle automatically with the same conditions. Many leave the bill behind and pay high interest rates as a result.