change money at the airport

TD Bank’s new Spending Abroad Survey examined American’s international travel plans, payment choices and budget habits and revealed that most U.S. travelers going abroad create a budget but many don’t understand foreign currency and transaction fees, leading to spending on unnecessary fees.

“Traveling abroad is an exciting experience but knowing how to handle your finances is important for a smooth trip,” said James Wolanski, managing director, global foreign exchange at TD Securities. “It’s a good idea to have some foreign currency with you before leaving the U.S. to cover immediate expenses such as transportation, food, tips, or local experiences.”

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Key findings from the survey show that international travel is a major draw for younger generations. Respondents aged 18-34 plan to visit three or more foreign destinations in the next two years, according to TD Bank.

The survey also found that younger travelers are budget and social media savvy. Eighty-five percent of younger respondents spend below or within their maximum budgets, while nearly a quarter (21 percent) of those 55-plus exceed their budget.

Understanding foreign currencies is a topic for which travelers could use education.

TD Bank found that travelers overlook some expenses in their budget as 37 percent do not factor fees on foreign transactions into their budget, and 35 percent do not include credit and debit card fees.

“Travelers should speak with a bank to understand currency exchange rates availability and find out how much currency is worth in U.S. dollars,” said Wolanski. “Use your financial institution as a trusted advisor to ensure you have the right mix of cards and cash to handle everyday spending needs.”

Currency is definitely not always a digital transaction. When asked, travelers said that they want to exchange currency with a provider that has better exchange rates (72 percent). Six-in-10 travelers who do exchange their currency do so within a week of departure, and 73 percent of travelers’ exchange foreign currency back to U.S. dollars when they return.

For those looking to exchange money, TD Bank gives travelers more than 60 currencies at competitive exchange rates.

Many TD Bank Stores carry common currencies on-site; if a traveler needs a currency that’s not available on-site at a TD Bank Store, they can order it and pick it up typically within two to three business days.