How to get the best currency exchange rate when travelling

[ 27 April 2013: Updated infos about the „dynamic currency conversion“ scam.]
[ 07 July 2013: Foreign transaction fees are not applied to cash withdrawals, only to purchases with the card. ]
[ 23 Nov 2015: Added Cortana search tip ]
[ 24 Mar 2016: Updated some links ]
[ 05 Apr 2016: Starting 1 June 16 DKB no longer refunds international non-customer fees.
I consider this change understandable. ]
[ 17 Jun 2018: Added Santander 1Plus card ]

  1. Research the current exchange rate:
    OANDA Web Currency Converter.
    LeanWork Multi-Currency Converter App for Windows Phone and Windows 10.
    First Data rates (used by DKB).
  2. Know your  card fees:
    ATM non-customer fee: 1$ to 6$.
    Foreign transaction fee: 1.0% to 3,5% .
  3. For cash withdrawals use ATMs with your debit card:
    Works in almost all countries.
    At ATMs with the Maestro or Cirrus logo.
    Most banks charge a non-customer fee (ex. 4$) .
    No foreign transaction fee!
    No cash advance fee!
    No advance interest rate!
    To find the next ATM perform a Cortana search „find atm“:
  4. Do not(!) use credit card cash withdrawals
    Beware of cash advance fee: 2% to 4 % or flat fee.
    Beware of interest rate: 5% to 20+%. Commonly there is no grace period, you start paying interest right away!
    Use in an emergency only. Better find a store that offers cash back on purchases.
  5. Avoid exchange kiosks and counters.
    They usually offer worse exchange rates than ATMs, Banks and post offices.
  6. Consider using credit cards for large purchases like airline tickets, hotel bills, car rentals and in restaurants.
    With some merchants charging a fee for credit card transactions sometimes it is cheaper to walk to the next ATM and pay cash.
  7. Traveller’s cheques are one of the most secure methods of carrying your money abroad.
    I find them too inconvenient to use.
    ATMs usually offer better exchange rates and lower fees
  8. Beware of “dynamic currency conversion”: Some local merchants (especially hotels) try to charge your credit card in your home currency (ex: USD) instead of the local currency (ex: THB) using a bad exchange rate. Insist on paying in the local currency.
    You can check current and historic credit card exchange rates here:
    MasterCard conversion rates
    Visa conversion rates
    First Data conversion rates (used by DKB)

I use the DKB-VISA-Card with ATMs when traveling:


  • I am using DKB as my primary bank account since 2007
  • The DKB-VISA-Card is a credit card with debit card conditions
  • No non-customer fee in Germany
  • No non-customer fee (worldwide)
    In case a foreign bank still does charge a fee (ex: all ATMs in Thailand charge 150THB per withdrawal) DKB does refund it upon request.
  • No cash advance fee!
  • No advance interest rate!
  • No foreign transaction fee (for active customers only)!

In countries where banks charge a non-customer fee (e.g. 220THB per withdrawal in Thailand and 250PHP in Philippines) I prefer the Santander 1Plus Visa card to withdraw from ATMs. The 1Plus is the only card I know of where one still can get a refund for non-customer fees. To get a refund send an email with a photo to the ATM receipts to Sadly with the 1Plus I have to go to ATMs more often than I like because it has a daily limit of 300€ (in contrast to 1000€ with the DKB Visa card).

With the 1Plus card beware!

  • Santander no longer allows to automatically balance out the 1Plus card from a reference account. To avoid accidentally paying interest (Santander sneakily does not even send an email when a payment is due) I always transfer enough money to the 1Plus before withdrawing.
  • You must request non-customer fee refunds within six weeks after withdrawal.

Über Peter Meinl

Perpetual Traveller, IT Consultant
Dieser Beitrag wurde unter Leisure veröffentlicht. Setze ein Lesezeichen auf den Permalink.

2 Antworten zu How to get the best currency exchange rate when travelling

  1. fcortezhector schreibt:

    How do you do to charge the DKB-VISA-Card or to put money in your account? Still use it?

    • Peter Meinl schreibt:

      Still happily using it.
      I works like a normal credit card. On the 22nd of every month the credit used is automatically transferred from my main account.
      Additionally one can manually transfer money using DKB’s web app.

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