financial institutions – and how they Exchange Currency at Best Rates

financial institutions. Before you travel to another country, it is only safe to get a small amount of the local currency to help you cover some immediate expenses until you reach their ATM. Based on your capacity, you can take about $80 worth of local currency of that country. The best financial institutions option is to get the majority of your foreign currency at ATMs abroad; they give the best exchange rates.

However, some banks will only exchange your US dollar for a foreign currency if you have a checking or savings account with them. Others will just demand your credit card and charge you a fee. Let’s consider some financial institutions and how they exchange.

financial institutions - and how they Exchange Currency at Best Rates

Bank of America:

Offers online ordering for at least $100. Orders under $1,000 can be mailed to you directly while the ones above it must be picked by you. They charge no fee.

Wells Fargo:

This bank does not charge any fee. You can order online for at least $200. When your order is more than $1,000, they ship it for free.


Citi does not charge any fee, they permit you to order online and they charge $5. People with CitiGold and Citi Priority Account Package do not pay the $5 fee.


No fee and you must exchange the money at their branch.

On the other hand, many banks permit the online ordering and deduct from your checking or savings account. They ship the foreign currency to your home address. Other banks demand that you visit their branch to order the currency. Certain currency requests like Euros or Canadian dollars can be fulfilled the same day while other currencies take two to four days. It is good to know that a lot of banks buy back the foreign currency you have when you return, but usually at a lesser rate.

Converting Foreign Currency Online

There are lots of foreign currency providers online. They include Travelex and others. Travelex is one of the best and U S Bank always directs customers to it. AAA as well provides exchange services online. Below is a comparison between them.

Travelex                                                                                                              AAA

  • Free store pick-up Order online in-store or on phone at 1-888-626-2027
  • Free delivery on orders more than $1,000 free two-delivery on orders above $1,000.
  • Ready for next day pick up but can take up to 5 days. $15 shipping fee for orders less than $1,000.
  • Minimum order of $50 and maximum of $3,000.

Foreign ATM’s are the best when it comes to currency exchange. However, they charge certain fees like;

Cash advance fee: For cash advance withdrawals.

Foreign ATM use fee

Out of network ATM fee, usually up to $5

Foreign Transaction Fee

However, some US Banks have affiliates in other countries.

These affiliates will not charge their customers foreigners a dime. For example, Citibank has about 45,000 ATMs across the world and they don’t charge out of network fees. They charge a foreign exchange fee.

Also, bank of America customers can use China Construction Bank ATM’s without paying out of network fees. Bank of America is part of the Global Alliance that gives customers’ access without a fee to 50,000 ATM’s from other global members. These global members include Barclays, BNP Paribas, and so on.

Note that exchanging currencies at airports or kiosks near hotels or train stations costs a whole lot, don’t even try it.

Lastly, you can avoid converting currency by using credit cards or special travel prepaid cards. They are safe to carry around. You can as well use traveler’s checks since you don’t have to worry if they are stolen.

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