How much should I take?
Spending habits vary...base it on the amount you are comfortable carrying in US currency. Have segments of your trip been prepaid? Do you need to purchase your own meals, etc.?
Why buy foreign currency before I travel?
Because it can take a lot of time, and rip-offs abound, especially in major tourist areas. Business hours and holidays are not the same in other countries, and banks there may be closed when you least expect it. Also, many countries have no currency exchange facilities in airports, railroad stations and other points of entry. How will you get from the airport to where you're going if you can't change any money? When exchange facilities are available in the airport, lines are often long, and rates are often high. Your travel time is very valuable, and you don't want to spend it searching for a bank. Changing money before you go buys you peace of mind.
Can't I just use my credit card for purchases?
Credit cards are convenient, however; many small businesses may not accept them. European countries generally operate on a cash basis. Just as you require US Dollars for domestic travel, you need foreign currency for cabs, tips and buses. Depending on where you're going, there may be a great many bank machines that will accept your bankcard. However, you should be aware of some clear disadvantages in using your bankcard abroad. You cannot always be certain that you will find a bank machine that accepts your card. You may be charged excessive network access fees and exchange rates. If your card is lost or stolen, you cannot replace it until you return home. Most Credit Card companies are hitting you with an average surcharge of 1%. Now, some banks are adding additional 2% surcharges on all overseas transactions. Your overseas trip could exceed your budget by a hidden 3% and you may never know it.
What do I do with left over currency?
We will be happy to buy it back from you at the current day's rate of exchange. Save the receipt from your original purchase and we will be happy to waive the fee. We do not accept coins.
I've just looked at foreign currency exchange rates in the newspaper, or on an online "currency converter". Why are these rates much lower than what you're offering?
The rates you see in the newspaper and on "currency converters" are for exchanges between banks usually for transactions of $1,000,000 and over. These are called inter-bank rates and are not available to the public. Actual currency is more expensive because of the handling costs involved for shipping, security, etc.
Why don't I just go to a bank here in the States, and change money for my trip?
Have you ever tried this? Outside of major cities like New York and Los Angeles, foreign exchange is a very tiny business for US banks. Most branches don't keep foreign currency on hand.