Customs regulations for the import and export of money.
Even before you consider exchanging cash here in Germany, you should inform yourself about the import regulations in your holiday destination. Not in every country is the import of cash allowed at all, in others only up to a certain amount. Some countries prohibit the export of cash. In the USA, for example, you can only take 10,000 US dollars with you. If you want to import more, you must complete a special customs form with the US customs authorities.
You must also be careful when exporting cash: In China, you can only export renminbi (yuan) which you have changed in the country itself and for which you can show exchange vouchers. In Vietnam the export of the local currency (dong) is completely forbidden. In short: Find out about the import and export regulations before you start your journey.
Exchange it where?
In principle, you can exchange currencies worldwide at banks with private customer business. That’s for sure, you will receive an official receipt and the exchange rates are usually relatively good as well. Especially abroad, however, banks are not always specialised in barter transactions or not in euro transactions. In this case, specialised exchange offices can often deliver the better exchange rate and are actually just as secure. Often your hotel also offers an exchange service – but mostly with very high fees and a bad exchange rate. (In some countries, e.g. Russia, it is forbidden for hotels to offer currency exchange for their guests).
As a small rule of thumb you should never change money with private persons. The Internet is full of holidaymakers who have been cheated when they exchanged money on the street (where you are quickly dragged into a dark backyard) – either with counterfeit money, with too little money or you are robbed directly. So hands off! This also applies to exchange offices which, in your opinion, do not make a serious impression. A more favourable exchange rate does not outweigh the risk of being robbed or cheated.
Credit cards, EC cards or cash?
Cashless payment transactions have made a huge triumphal march worldwide in recent years. In fact, Germany is still one of the few countries in which cash traditionally still has a very high priority. So don’t be surprised if card payment is the preferred means of payment in your destination and adjust to it. Japan, for example, is also a cash country, where you are looking in vain for a card payment device in many restaurants. In the USA or Finland, on the other hand, almost every shop is cashless.
But the most important question is: What is the cheapest option for you? Of course, there is no blanket answer to this question (visit valuuttamuunnin.eu for more information). In contrast to electronic payments, cash payments cannot be traced and proven in cases of fraud. There is also a higher risk of loss. However, cash is variable at most and is actually accepted everywhere. On the other hand, when paying by credit card, you should always make sure that you do not fall into the hands of fraudsters who use your data to make additional debits from your account. Therefore, never forget to take the telephone number of the credit card service hotline with you on holiday in order to block your card if necessary.
Conventional EC cards, on the other hand, now allow you to withdraw cash from ATMs abroad (but Japan is an example of a large industrial country where this is virtually impossible!). This is where the wheat separates from the chaff: while some credit institutions offer free debiting from foreign currencies abroad, other EC cards often charge high fees at a poor exchange rate. So please check with your bank advisor beforehand.
The most reliable method abroad is therefore the credit card. Here you can always get rates very close to the interbank market from virtually all providers – completely without transaction fees. As a rule, the premium is only 1 percent, while you can also pay 3 or 5 percent in exchange offices or at the bank!
And don’t forget that you can withdraw cash from ATMs with your credit card. Here you usually get the same low rate, but there are also exchange fees. In this respect, you should avoid withdrawing cash in many small transactions in order to optimize your travel budget, but rather withdraw a sufficiently large amount in the local currency. Also in exchange offices fees are sometimes required for the exchange.
Please also note that certain credit card types (Maestro, Visa or Vpay) are hardly accepted or not accepted at all in some countries. In particular, cards that run via Vpay (Visa) are affected. They cannot be processed in non-European countries.