I was wondering what the best option would be to use when travelling overseas. I am planning on a trip os next month and was wondering whether I should pre-purchase some cash for the country, buy travellers cheques or can you easily withdraw money from your visa card (first time traveller)!!! I want to try and avoid or the costly bank fees that I've heard are charged. Any suggestions/comments would be greatly appreciated.
I always take Traveller's Cheques as the bulk of my money and a small amount of local currency to get me started. Don't ever exchange travellers cheques at the airport - they always have the worst rates, hence the reason I take some local currency.
As a side note, I always use American Express traveller's cheques; I've heard horrendous stories about other companies.
depending on your country of origin some banks are now giving you comission free debit card transactions (Nationwide Bank in the UK)
The thing is to check which banks charge the best comission rate, combined with how much they charge for money advances. Some charge flat rates, whilst others charge a percentage. Percentages are good for small amounts, whilst flat ratesm are good for larger amounts.
A good thing to do is to set up a new account and set up a direct debit from your current account to this account. Get a cash card for this new account and take this with you (leave youir other one at home!).
Then every month or so, your spending money is transferred to your account automatically.
This has numerous advantages, however, most notable are that if you get your card stolen or are made to take all the money out of the cashpoint you don't loose all your cash.
It also means you'll tend to budget more and not spend all your money too quickly.
I also take some hard currency... dollars in my sock for emergencies
and also take a few travellers cheques (remembering that the comission you pay on the travellers cheques combined with the exchange rates you get (invariably these aren't as good as hard currency or the banks) you'll pay about the same amount in comission as taking cash from the ATM.
From an Australian point of view, we opened an ANZ Internet account as there were no fixed costs associated with the account and the exchanges rates and comissions were good and they charged a fixed comission rate (think it was $2.50 per transaction) so we took out large amounts each time we got cash out.
From a UK point of view we've just opened a new Nationwide account with a cash card and set up a DD to tranfer money into the account every two weeks.
Hope this helps.
PS I work in finance... you'd never guess eh?... Nerd that I am!
On the opposite tack to Mikey, I've never taken travellers cheques in 15years more or less solid travel. I know why people do, but in allot of cases, they are simply too much hasle. I usually carry around some "generic" money (USD and Euro's) in several places as insurance money, and a few cards - NEVER just have one, and never keep them all in the same place - which I use to withdraw local currency from ATMs.
Try to avoid withdrawing small amounts, as you start to get hit with more fees. I have a del awith my nbank, which means that after I have withdrawn over a certain amount in foreign in a year, i then don't get charged fees (and get all fees from that year to date back).
Also, if using credit cards, don't forget that you can top them up beforehand - I will often have sveral hundred GBP on my card in credit which i can use whenever, and try to keep this topped oup, so i rarely actually make use of the banks "credit" part of teh card