Changing money abroad without big fees
OK, DH (of 3 months) and I are nearly to our savings goal for our honeymoon to Australia in November. (We agreed we'd only go when we'd saved the cash to cover the trip.)
How do we avoid paying money-changing fees when we go overseas?
I've taken a few business trips abroad. Formerly, the best method I found for avoiding fees for changing money and getting a good exchange rate was to use a credit card -- MC and VS are taken virtually everywhere. And one has to carry little cash.
When I came back from a business trip in February and got my CC statement, my eyes bugged out at the 3% foreign exchange fee tacked onto each purchase. Thankfully, my employer paid all expenses, including that 3%. Apparently the 3% fee is pretty standard for CCs these days.
I don't know that ATMs will work either. In 1998, I got Argentine cash out of an ATM in Buenos Aires -- and it cost only the $1 my bank was charging for using a "foreign" ATM, whether in the US or not -- not a bad price to pay. Those days, I fear, are gone too.
For the next trip, should I go back to good ole American Express Travelers Checks? My bank will provide them fee-free. On my February trip, I got my best exchange rates with AmEx TravChex and U.S. cash -- and there were no fees.
I don't relish carrying either big wads of cash or a bunch of AmeEx TravChex. Plus, I recently found out my local grocery store won't take TravChex anymore because of fraud, prompting me to wonder if other merchants elsewhere in the world are turning these down too.