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  • Those traveling to a foreign country find that inevitably they must exchange some of their dollars for local currency. If you manage to spend all the money you have exchanged, you don't have to worry about changing it back. More likely, though, you wind up with some leftover bills and coins to convert. While the airport exchange counter is a convenient place to do this, you probably can get a better deal through your bank.

    Airport Exchange Counters

    One of the most common places to exchange foreign currency for American dollars is at the exchange counter within or near the international terminal of a major airport. Usually this counter is staffed by a private company. As with everything else at an airport, trading in foreign currency at the counter can be expensive. The exchange rates typically are unfavorable or come with fees. Travelers should avoid these counters except in emergencies or when exchanging large amounts of foreign coins, which banks generally do not accept.

    Major Banks

    All of the major U.S. banks, including Citibank, Bank of America and Wells Fargo, and some regional banks deal offer currency exchange services. Not only can you obtain foreign bills cheaply before your trip, but you can also get rid of any unused currency when you return. The one drawback to using a major bank is that you have to physically bring the currency to a branch, and not all branches deal in foreign exchange. Check your bank's website for the location of the nearest foreign exchange location.

    Foreign Coins

    Bank branches that buy and sell only foreign currency generally accept only foreign bills, not coins. In some parts of the country, such as areas of New York City, you can actually spend euro coins, which some merchants will accept as payment for goods and services. This might be the best way to get top value for your currency. Otherwise, foreign coins should be exchanged at the airport or at a specialty coin shop if one is in your vicinity. Because of their low cash value, you could also keep the coins as an inexpensive souvenir of your trip.

    Source:

    Bank of America: Exchange Foreign Currency for U.S. Dollars

    Chase: Foreign Currency

    Citibank: World Wallet

    More Information:

    Wells Fargo: Today's Rates

    Taking out foreign currency at the airport

    "Euros Accepted" signs pop up in New York City

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