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Old 09.01.2011, 09:58
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General strategy for exchanging local currency while travelling

Hello all,

so the title said it all. What do you guys do when you need to exchange local currency while travelling? Although currently I am looking for the best way to exchange Hong Kong Dollars as I will be travelling there soon, I will appreciate general strategy from you guys who love to travel from Switzerland into countries that don't use CHF/EUR. Basically I reckon there are a few possibilities:

1. Withdrawing cash from a bankcard (like Postfinance) from an ATM machine at the destination which has 'Visa' logo.

2. Bring CHF/EUR cash and exchange at a local money changer.

3. Order the currency and get it sent to home (Postfinance provides this service)

4. Exchange the currency with CHF in a money changer in CH.


For my previous two trips (UK and Bulgaria) I used Option 1. The exchange rate for GBP is better than the money changer in airport. But for Bulgaria, I found out later that it is actually better to bring EUR and change it at a local money changer (Option 2). . Personally I reckon Option 3 or 4 would be the most expensive one but then we will not be reaching the destination without local currency...

So now I need to get some HKD for my upcoming Hong Kong trip. As it is no longer in Europe, I am wondering if there are more things to consider in term of exchange rate. Would appreciate any expert view here...

Thanks!
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Old 09.01.2011, 10:11
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Re: General strategy for exchanging local currency while travelling

By far, the easiest and cheapest option is generally to get currency once you arrive in the foreign country, using your bank card at any ATM. There's nearly always a machine at the airport, so you have your currency straight away. (Notable exception: there's no convenient place to get cash out at Mumbai airport arrivals, a constant gripe of mine everytime I need to get a few rupees to tip drivers / porters / etc)

Another tip that generally serves me well: when checking out of the hotel and getting ready to leave, I always settle the bill using all the remaining cash/coins I have left, paying the balance with my credit card. No hotel has ever complained about partial payment like this, and it means that I don't have tons of left-over foreign currency hanging around the house collecting dust...
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Old 09.01.2011, 18:55
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Re: General strategy for exchanging local currency while travelling

Thanks Village Idiots for the tips! Indeed I am more for ATM withdrawal too. The only thing I realised later in Bulgaria was that the exchange rate was not shown, so basically you don't know the rate until you reach home. And it ended up exchanging with Euro cash is better, although just marginally. But for UK it is ok as the rate was displayed on the screen and you may compare with the money changer's rate immediately.

But as Hong Kong is not in Europe, I am wondering if anyone has used a postfinance card in Asia before?
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Old 09.01.2011, 19:47
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Re: General strategy for exchanging local currency while travelling

Postfinance card works fine in Asia.
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Old 09.01.2011, 19:48
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Re: General strategy for exchanging local currency while travelling

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Thanks Village Idiots for the tips! Indeed I am more for ATM withdrawal too. The only thing I realised later in Bulgaria was that the exchange rate was not shown, so basically you don't know the rate until you reach home. And it ended up exchanging with Euro cash is better, although just marginally. But for UK it is ok as the rate was displayed on the screen and you may compare with the money changer's rate immediately.

But as Hong Kong is not in Europe, I am wondering if anyone has used a postfinance card in Asia before?
use credit cards whenever possible
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Old 09.01.2011, 19:52
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Re: General strategy for exchanging local currency while travelling

NEVER use a credit card to withdraw cash unless you get turned on paying bank fees (I have to assume marton meant buy stuff with a CC not withdraw cash).

Also, Postfinance have an online set where foreign cash withdrawals are free and the exchange rate loading is pretty low (under 2%) whereas most credit cards are 2% or more.
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Old 09.01.2011, 20:13
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Re: General strategy for exchanging local currency while travelling

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NEVER use a credit card to withdraw cash unless you get turned on paying bank fees (I have to assume marton meant buy stuff with a CC not withdraw cash).

Also, Postfinance have an online set where foreign cash withdrawals are free and the exchange rate loading is pretty low (under 2%) whereas most credit cards are 2% or more.
Yes I meant to buy stuff, good catch!
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