HOW MUCH MONEY DO YOU BRING ABROAD?
There is no set amount recommended, but it is recommended that you bring at least one (1) credit card for emergencies. Factor in expenses that may not be or are not covered by the program fee: airfare, meals, textbooks, local transportation, laundry, entertainment, traveling (seeing other countries, traveling around your host country on weekends), communication with family/friends at home (phone, postage), personal items, gifts/souvenirs to bring home.
HOW DO YOU GET MONEY WHILE ABROAD?
Exchange a small amount of money before you go abroad, to ensure that you have enough upon arrival for things such as buses or taxis.
There are several ways to access money while abroad:
ATM/Debit cards do work in most foreign ATM’s (as long as there is a Visa/Mastercard logo). You are taking money out in your host country’s currency, but American dollars are taken out of your personal bank account. Make sure that you have enough American dollars in your account to cover the exchange rate. There will also be a fee on your account for using a foreign ATM. The exchange rate is not the best that you can get, but ATM’s are very convenient. Something else to consider: credit cards offer immediate protection from fraud and will often credit your account immediately. But if you have $2000 in your ATM checking account and someone draws that out or a store mischarges you---you have to wait to process a claim with your bank and the funds are not available until the process has been completed.
Credit cards should not be used for cash advances. The fees for advances are expensive, and interest rates are much higher for this option. However, it is recommended that you bring at least one (1) credit card with you. Visa and Mastercard are accepted in most major cities, and do give the best exchange rate possible. One recommendation is to bring one card for normal usage, and one for emergencies only. This way, you know that you have an available balance to you if you have no other way of getting money. Inform your credit card companies that you will be going abroad and using your card. This will ensure that they do not shut down your card for “abnormal usage.”
Traveler’s Checks are a safe and dependable way to carry money. If they are lost or stolen, you can usually obtain a refund. Keep check receipts and numbers in a safe place, and separate from the checks themselves. Take a variety of denominations ($20, $40, $100) and only cash as needed to ensure the safety of your money. Don’t forget the banks take a small percentage of the total amount exchanged to the bank! Try to not to exchange traveler’s checks in hotels, restaurants, clubs, or shops. They charge a high commission and are not required to give the daily exchange rate. Banks and foreign exchange shops give the better rates.
Cash is recommended, but only in small amounts. Since it is easier (and cheaper) to exchange cash than traveler’s checks, we recommend that you bring a small amount with you. However, be very careful, as cash is obviously not replaceable, unlike traveler’s checks, credit cards, and ATM/Debit cards.
HOW DO YOU GET MONEY... FAST?
If you are in dire need of money, and your emergency credit card is not working/not accepted, your family can wire you money through Moneygram or WesternUnion (www.moneygram.com or www.westernunion.com for services and locations). These companies are legitimate and have many locations throughout the world.
HOW DO YOU CHECK THE EXCHANGE RATES?
Both www.oanda.com and www.xe.com have exchange rate information which is updated daily. Both of these sites also do conversions (ex. changing $200 will get you 99 British Pounds) to help you see approximately how much foreign currency you will get for your money.
Be careful handling your money in public. Remember, people looking to take money will most likely target a tourist! Carry your money, ATM card, and credit card in a travel belt (goes on under your clothes) if possible. Above all else, be careful with your money!!