Multicurrency Apps Are Changing How People Spend Money When Traveling Internationally
Traveling abroad can be incredibly exciting — experiencing a new culture, taking in new sights and learning about world history. But it can also be frustrating — standing in line at customs, trying to learn a new language in a short amount of time and dealing with jet lag.
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But thanks to some new financial apps, at least one thing is easier about international trips: saving money on currency exchanges.
They’re called “multicurrency accounts,” and The New York Times described these as accounts which allow travelers “to exchange their money at more favorable rates and with little to no transaction fees.” Funds can be added within the app in various currencies and travelers can use their phones to pay for goods and services when visiting foreign countries. They can be used for both personal and business travel.
How Does a Multicurrency Account / App Work?
You begin by either linking your bank account — via Apple Pay or Google Pay — to load money into the app and then “toggle” between multiple currencies whenever necessary. So, if you are planning a trip overseas with stops in Europe, for example, you can easily change funds saved within the app to the currency you need, when you need it. If you don’t have enough money in your app and need to load more, the app will do so at the lowest available currency exchange rate.
Though there are many credit and debit cards that might waive international transaction fees as part of their member perks, The New York Times noted that another benefit of a multicurrency account is that exchange rates can be even better, allowing people to get more value.
The Times illustrated this point by gesturing toward popular multicurrency app Revolut (with 26 million users and counting): “At the end of January, $10 would get Revolut users 9.21 euros, while Visa customers would get €9.15. But once Visa’s typical 3 percent foreign transaction fee was factored in, they would get €8.88.”
There is an application process with these apps, but the NYT suggested most people are approved after filling it out. The process ostensibly takes about 10 minutes.
According to a 2021 Pew Research Center survey, it’s been said that 71% of Americans have traveled abroad at some point in their lives. More are likely doing so now that pandemic-era restrictions have been largely lifted. CNBC claimed international trips are poised for a “big comeback” in 2023, with many Americans looking to journey to Europe and Asia. And when they do, they’ll be contributing to the $15.5 billion that U.S. residents spend abroad, according to Hotels.com. That could spell millions in overall savings for American travelers using these apps.
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Here are some of the most popular multicurrency apps (some offer extra perks like no ATM fees, subscription blocking and providing personal debit cards):
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