Students can withdraw funds with theirATM card at an ATM machine, without having to enter the bank. This is the easiest and least expensive way to obtain cash while overseas. We recommend students notify their bank that they will be using their card(s) abroad and confirm that their card is activated for international use.
A fee will will probably be charged for using an ATM not owned by the home bank – students should check with their bank for applicable charges and ask if they have a partner bank in the host country.
Note: ATM machines may not be available in rural locations.
Credit cards are now widely used in most countries and are convenient for making purchases. Students should be sure to alert their credit card company of the location and dates they will be abroad. Be aware that using a credit card to obtain a cash advance (in local currency) can involve many hidden charges. These cash advances are often considered a loan and you can get an advance only up to the line of credit. Be advised that each time a withdrawal is made from the account, an additional and variable fee is applied. Check with the home bank and/or credit card companies for their fees. Credit Card Cash advances are recommended for emergencies only.
Note: The credit card bill will reflect the exchange rate on the day the credit transaction was processed.
Traveler’s checks are replaceable if lost. However, some vendors are reluctant to accept them and it can be inconvenient to get them cashed (and when they are, the exchange rate tends to be less favorable). Traveler’s checks are sold by several agencies and major banks throughout the United States, usually at the rate of one percent over the value of the checks you are buying. If you or your student is an AAA member or American Express cardholder, you may purchase traveler’s checks at no additional fee.
Traveler’s checks can be cashed overseas at banks, stores, money exchange kiosks etc. for a fee. It is worth shopping around for the best deal. American Express Traveler’s Checks can be cashed at their offices abroad. It is important to keep the receipts for traveler’s checks separate from the checks, in case replacements are needed. Some American Express offices offer check-cashing privileges to its clients.
Bank transfers/drafts are used for emergencies only. If you think your son or daughter might need to use bank transfers, or they want to take initial currency in the form of a bank draft, visit the bank in the U.S. before departure and ask them for a list of their correspondent banks. Make sure the student lets them know who is authorized to initiate cable transfers to them. Once in the host country, the student can contact (telegram or phone) the home bank and receive the money usually within 48 hours.
Cabling charges will probably be charged both ways, in addition to a commission charged by the U.S. bank. Money can also be cabled from home through American Express; this type of transfer will take two to five days and the charge varies according to how much money is sent.
In most cases it is not advisable or necessary to open a bank account in the host country.
It is a good idea to plan to obtain some local currency to pay for initial expenses. There are currency exchange bureaus located at international airports (bring U.S. dollars to change), and most also have ATM machines. Some countries restrict how much currency can be brought in or out. Check with the appropriate embassy or consulate for any such requirements. Travel guidebooks always include information on how to get money as well.