The best place to get foreign currency once you’re abroad is at an ATM. (Avoid the ubiquitous currency-exchange kiosks at airports; they’re often very expensive, with rates ranging from 5 percent to 10 percent over the wholesale interbank exchange rate.) If you can find a machine that belongs to your bank, there will generally be no transaction fees and, typically, lower currency-exchange fees. On an ATM not belonging to your bank, you’ll be charged three times: once by the bank that owns the machine, then twice by your bank, for the currency conversion and the transaction. Those rates vary: Bank of America, for instance, charges a 1 percent currency conversion fee plus a $5 transaction fee; so on a $500 transaction the fee would be $10. To avoid surprises, be sure to check your bank’s website before you travel.
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