We are traveling in Scotland this morning, so just a quick post on the personal finance of traveling. Like most people, we charge almost everything we can when we travel. We keep a small amount of cash for small expenses, but otherwise charge away.
One of the questions you inevitably get when you are paying for things with a card is “do you want to pay in US dollars or UK Pounds?” While I have traveled a lot internationally, I always forget which is most advantageous. (Frankly, when I was traveling for business, I payed a lot less attention to these things.)
Today, I spent some time Googling the topic and made up a quick mnemonic device to help remember the best approach: “When in Rome, PAY as the Romans do”.
That is, pay in LOCAL currency whenever possible. As long as you are using a card that has no foreign transaction fees (I’m using a Chase Sapphire Preferred), then it is more than likely you will get a much better exchange rate than paying in US dollars and having them convert it (minimum 3% charge – likely built into the rate they are giving you).
If you don’t have a card that is fee free when traveling overseas, just stop reading right now and get one. Almost any card that accrues you airline mileage, has rental car insurance, and other travel benefits should be in your wallet. Otherwise, you will be nickeled-and-dimed throughout your trip.
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