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Two girls shopping; image used for HSBC top 5 tips for buying forex for international trips page.

Planning for holidays abroad? Here are some tips on buying foreign exchange

Travelling abroad can be exciting. Visiting new places, experiencing new cultures and tasting new food is sure to drive up your wanderlust. But travellers often forget a crucial aspect in their plans – foreign exchange. When you go abroad, you need local currency. Here're some tips on getting money abroad with the ideal exchange rate.

Use your credit card for your international expenses

Using your credit card for your expenses can be very convenient, but beware of international transaction charges. Some cards have processing fees for transactions you make abroad while some don't. If you're a frequent traveller, always find a travel credit card with low or even zero international transaction fees.

While it's one of the better ways to spend while travelling, places like taxis, street vendors or amusement park stands may not accept credit cards. In those cases, you'll need currency in hand.

How to exchange foreign currency

1: Exchange currency at your local bank

This is one of the easiest ways to exchange currency. Many authorised dealers sell foreign currency, so you can place an order and pick it up from your local branch.

2: Withdraw from your bank’s ATM while abroad

You can use your debit card to withdraw from ATMs at international locations for local currency, but it might cost you extra. You also need to activate your debit card for international usage beforehand. Contact your bank to know more about the availability of such feature and related charges.

Tip: minimise the transaction fees charged by withdrawing larger amounts in one go, instead of making smaller, frequent withdrawals.

3: Buy foreign currency online

There're different vendors offering this service. Log on to the website of your preferred vendor, choose the required currency, specify how much you need and make the payment in your local currency. The vendor then sends the foreign currency notes directly to your address.

Though convenient, this may not always be the best choice, as it incurs delivery fees, transaction charges, and sometimes poor exchange rates.

4: Use currency exchange vendors at airports, hotels and other tourist spots

Most international airports, hotel chains, and famous tourist spots have currency exchange desks with currencies available at a specified rate.

This also might not be the best choice, since their rates are often poor and the exchange desks may not accept your currency.

5: Buy a prepaid travel card

Prepaid travel cards often appear on tutorials on carrying money abroad from India. Though there could be withdrawal limits and daily transaction limits, you don't need to carry foreign currency in cash and if the card is lost or stolen, you can report it just like a lost credit card.

Get the most out of your money by choosing the right currency exchange method

Getting the right exchange rate and minimising charges can give you more money to spend abroad.

Look around, compare exchange rates and choose the right method that offers the highest value for your money.

Click here to know the exchange rates provided by HSBC.


This publication has been issued by The Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation Limited (HSBC), India, Incorporated in Hong Kong SAR with limited liability, for the information of its customers only. This publication does not constitute investment advice or an offer to sell, or a solicitation of an offer to purchase or subscribe to any investment. The information herein is derived from sources believed to be reliable and the concerned Information Provider(s) have duly authorised HSBC to use such information provided by them. Whilst every care has been taken in compiling the information, HSBC and the concerned Information Provider(s) do not guarantee, or make any representation or warranty and accept no responsibility or liability as to its accuracy or completeness and shall not be liable for damages arising out of any person's reliance upon this information or any action taken or not taken as a result of any material contained in the publication. Expressions of opinion are those of HSBC and the Information Provider(s) only and are subject to change without notice. HSBC has not independently verified any information provided by the Information Provider (s) or that has been derived from the sources believed to be reliable by HSBC. Opinions expressed herein do not have regard to specific investment objectives, financial situation and the particular needs of any specific person who may receive this publication. This document is for circulation in India only. No part of this publication may be reproduced or stored in a retrieval system without the prior written permission of HSBC. Any liability is accordingly expressly disclaimed by HSBC, its officers, directors and employees.

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