- Send money to 130+ countries
- Competitive exchange rates that are often better than banks
- XE has transparent fees which are only charged on some transfers
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The best exchange rates will help you get more foreign currency for your dollars, and understanding how to exchange money is key to saving money. We compared dozens of ways to exchange money and found that the best methods typically avoid banks and in-person exchange kiosks.
When transferring funds internationally or exchanging currency for a trip overseas, you want to get the most bang for your buck. In short, to get the best exchange rates possible:
It’s always best to shop around and compare your options when sending an international money transfer. And the more time you can leave yourself before needing to send the transfer, the better. A few tips on how to get the best exchange rate:
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When traveling internationally, you’ll typically get the best exchange rates at banks, ATMs and post offices. Using an ATM — especially if you have a bank card that doesn’t charge international ATM fees — will almost always be the strongest and most convenient option when traveling internationally. It may be possible to exchange money at your hotel, but double-check the rate it’s offering against the mid-market rate to see how strong it is. In short:
Depending on where you’re traveling, some local shops and restaurants may offer to accept payment in your native currency. For instance, several tourist destinations in Mexico will accept both US dollars and Mexican pesos. This is convenient, but you’ll almost always be overpaying when using dollars instead of pesos — but it might be worth the convenience depending on your situation.
Preparing for a trip can be an exciting time, and holding a foreign currency for the first time comes with its own special thrill. If you’re eager to get your hands on some international bills, here’s how to get the best exchange rates for your USD:
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When exchanging large amounts of money, a small variance in the exchange rate can lead to hundreds of dollars lost or gained when exchanging. Exchange rates are calculated based on what people are willing to buy and sell foreign currencies for. You’ll often hear the phrase “mid-market” rate thrown around when looking for the best exchange rates — pay attention to this.
It may seem counterproductive given that we use banks to store money, but banks almost never offer the best exchange rates. Take this example of sending $1,000 to Europe using live exchange rates accurate as of November 16, 2020.
|Exchange rate||1 USD = 0.801||1 USD = 0.844|
|Euros received||780.98 EUR||836.65 EUR|
Considering the exchange rates and fees, using Wise instead of the bank sends about €56 more.
There’s no straightforward solution to finding the best exchange rates since the best option changes based on so many variables. But by understanding how to calculate the strength of an exchange rate, knowing what to avoid and comparing your options, you can save money and maybe even secure the best exchange rate. Learn more about how to compare your money transfer options to get started today.
Many of the major banks don’t publish their foreign exchange rates online and won’t provide live exchange rate data to you by phone or in person unless you’re an account holder. However, we found the data for Bank of America, Wells Fargo and TD Bank to compare their rates.
Of those three, Bank of America had the strongest foreign currency exchange rates as of July 7, 2020. Comparing the rates for USD-MXN, USD-PHP and USD-EUR, average mid-market markups were:
Try and spend the coins while abroad, as they’re harder to get rid of. If you have extra bills, consider selling them to a friend who has a trip planned or saving them for the next time you visit that country.
Check the rates and fees offered by your bank. If your bank gives you free international ATM withdrawals, this may be one of the cheapest options to get cash while traveling abroad.
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