Once you are accepted into a study abroad program, it is strongly encouraged that you start monitoring the exchange rate for the currency of your host country (visit www.xe.com or www.oanda.com/currency/converter/). Exchange rates fluctuate daily and can greatly impact your study abroad budget.
The Office of Study Abroad staff recommends that you carry at least one major credit card (Visa or Mastercard) and at least one ATM card with you while you study abroad. An ATM is often the most convenient way to access cash overseas, and most locations will have ATM machines readily available.
A credit card is recommended for use in emergencies, when you might need access to funds and don’t have the cash available (i.e. visit to a local clinic or hospital). Most big cities and tourist destinations will accept credit cards, with VISA being the most widely accepted.
For both your credit card and your ATM card, you should check with your banks to find out what fees are associated with international transactions. Typically, both a currency conversion fee as well as an international fee will apply. You should also notify your banks that you plan to use your cards overseas. Many times banks will consider an international transaction “suspicious” if there is no travel notification on the account and the bank will put a hold on the card.
You might also consider exchanging a small amount of money in the United States prior to your departure. Arriving with a bit of the local currency will allow you some flexibility upon arrival as you will not need to find an ATM or bank immediately.
It is not recommended to bring large amounts of US dollars or travelers checks to exchange overseas. Most times, the exchange rate for cash/travelers checks is not as good as the exchange rate for an ATM or credit card.