Monday 6 April 2009 3.14pm
DON'T use an ATM the moment you arrive at the airport:
- your bank will charge you a fee
- your bank will charge you a worse exchange rate
- the atm may charge you a fee (because it's in the airport)
- locals might see you taking out money, and you may become a target
- if it's a CC the rate for cash withdraw and/or foreign money is (a lot) higher
My advice is either get local cash before you go, or take Travellers Cheques, or US dollar.
get a bank account where they don't charge you for taking out money (no matter where you are), and just transfer money to it when you need it on holiday - Nationwide used to do this (not sure if they still do though).
either take enough money for the whole trip (if it's short), or enough to last a few days/ a week, till you work out where it best to get more, bank, PO, TQ, tourist office, bureau d'Exchange, etc.
Horses for courses Jon, I have not used Travellers Cheques since the 80's and I would not dream of buying foreign currency in the UK. The US $ is fine if you have a US $ account, but if you have to buy them in the UK then change them abroad you get hit with two lots of commission. You say your bank may charge a worse rate, worse than what? Tourist offices and bureaux de change will give you tourist rate, an ATM gives you bank rate. Personally I get off the plane and look for an ATM. I have a Nationwide debit card for which I am charged zero on foreign withdrawals. This will change in May, (Europe will still be 0 % though.) I'll still use it though, because that is what suits me.
Semi-seriously, if you feel that just by using a foreign ATM you may become a target for the local bad guys maybe you should consider vacationing in Margate.
Foreign travel is for fun, not for fretting about becoming a crime statistic or wondering how to save a nickel.