Travelers Cash Management
*This tip is from a response I gave to a VTer in the NYC forum who was concerned about getting his traveling money to NY with the most ease and least currency rate exposure
Yes~ Things have gone a little crazy with the Kroner this month.. I happen to think that the it will settle at 7 Kroner/ 1 dollar.. Anyway, I understand the nerves.. however, I question the efficency of using means other than an ATM.. Unless you will be here for more than one month, I don't think the currency fluctuation will effect you as much as exchange fee's, cc fee's, and AMEX/Traveler cheque fee's will.
Furthermore, the security, ease and convenience of using your ATM card is worth any loss in currency exchange that is likely to come about within the next month.
Point by point, let me first address travelers cheques..
They do provide relative security, surely more so than cash.
However, they can be difficult or atleast inconvenient to cash as you go about your daily travels. They also do charge a significant fee,in and out, and that does vary place-to-place but is overall comparable to that of your store-front currency exchange desk..(which usually is not a good one)
Security is your bonus with these.
One note to add.. AMEX offices vary in rates as well as banks.. do NOT use the AMEX window at MACY's in midtown manhattan.. they have the worst..worst..rates.
As for Credit Cards... they charge (often excessive) fee's not only for currency exchange, but "Foreign Transaction Fee"'s.. Security of a card is a plus.. but add that to the normal compounded interest that CC companies charge and you will CERTAINLY be spending more by the time the bill comes in the mail.. I use Credit Cards for big ticket items where receipt and documentation are important, such as Hotels, Car-Rentals and Tours.
As for Cash, you've pretty much have to be crazy to carry vast amounts of cash with you.. OK, this is'nt the NY of the 1980's.. and it is the safest big city in the USA (no joke!).. but there are schemes that happen, and there are many many ways you can misplace your cash.. Weither it be by carelessness, accident or design.. it happens.. I would not recommend putting all of your traveling assets into cash.
As for ATM's... First question I must ask you to ask yourself, is "what bank do I use">? Is it an international bank? (Citibank, HSBC).. Next one would be "Does my ATM card have a Mastercard, Maestro or Cirrus logo on it">? (either the back or front)">?.. These are two very important factors.. If you deal an internationaly recognized bank, I would talk to someone at your local office and ask them what options they have for cash withdrawl and dispursal over-seas. Maybe you can withdraw directly from your account in NY, timing when the Kroner is best.. If things are looking good, the one-time wire fee of (usually) $30 may be efficient for a large withdrawl... Secondly, there are some bank cards (ATM cards) which are NOT accepted all over the world.. A card with any of (but not limited to) the above mentioned logo's (MC,Maestro,Cirrus) will be accepted anywhere in the world, and this ensures that your ATM method will be effective.
With all of those factors in mind,
I would suggest that you perhaps do a mix of both.. Take your trading sense and put it to use.. "Hedge"!~ Do a 60,20,20 mix.. 60% on your ATM/bank..20% in travelers cheques.. and 20% in cash... Saving your Credit Card purchases for the big-ticket expenses (hotels,cars,etc.)
This minimizes risk all around, and considering that you are not trying to play with the money for profit, risk is your overall concern. Balance your traveling-assets in the above said manner, and you will surely be a happy, secure and efficient traveler!
In anycase, I would recommend you get a travelers money belt.. not only does it keep your money safe in the event of a robbery (as unlikely as that may be), but it also encouraged and reinforces organization and constant physical accountabilty of your valuable documents and cash-related assets.
It'd be nice of you to build you pages.. Perhaps with some Norway tips/photos or some from your NYC trip?! Advice should be a two-way street!
Have a great stay here buddy!