Spending money abroad can be like a navigating a minefield of transaction fees and bank surcharges that can burn a hole in your wallet.
Did you know that not all banks charge the same exchange rates? And while a majority of credit cards charge a steep exchange rate, a small percentage of credit cards do not.
Here's a list of Do's and Don'ts for spending money abroad, many of which are are highlighted in a recent study from the credit card comparison site, CardHub.
DON'T Exchange Cash At The Airport
Airport currency exchange operators, such as Travelex, typically charge the highest fees. Instead, exchange cash beforehand at a bank.
DO Use A No Foreign Transaction Fee Credit Card
According to CardHub, 90 percent of credit cards charge a foreign transaction fee, which can cost you an extra 2 to 3 percent per purchase. Capital One has a number of no-fee cards--you can find a full list of them <a href="http://www.cardhub.com/credit-cards/foreign-transaction-fee/" target="_hplink">here</a>.
DON'T Forget To Notify Your Bank Of Your Travel Plans
Odysseas Papadimitriou, CEO of CardHub, warns: "Banks will suspend your credit and debit cards due to suspicions of fraud if you do not alert them to the fact that you're traveling out of the country."
DO Know How To Contact Your Bank Toll Free
"If your card gets lost or stolen, being able to contact your bank will not only help nip any potential fraud in the bud, but most banks will also overnight you a new card," Papadimitriou explains. "The bank will also pay for the call, so you needn't worry about international calling charges."
DON'T Let A Merchant Convert Your Purchase Into U.S. Dollars
This practice, called <a href="http://www.cardhub.com/edu/dynamic-currency-conversion/" target="_hplink">dynamic currency conversion, is expensive</a>. Merchants typically use exchange rates that are up to 7 percent higher than they should be and pocket the difference, according to CardHub. Odysseas Papadimitriou, CEO of CardHub, says: "Merchants tend to offer this supposed service in order to apply unfavorable exchange rates to your transaction and pocket some extra profit."
DO Check Out These Rates To Find Out Where To Convert Cash
Believe it or not, banks charge different exchange rates and fees. Northern Trust and Harris Bank are the best banks to exchange cash at. U.S. Bank and Fifth Third Bank are the worst, according to CardHub. You can <a href="http://www.cardhub.com/edu/currency-exchange-study/" target="_hplink">compare conversion rates here</a>.