Finance

Passport to Global Cash

Foreign Currencies at Zions Bank

Deanna Devey Apr 30, 2018

When it comes to international vacation planning, certain tasks are top priorities: buying airline tickets, making hotel reservations and booking sightseeing tours. But wise travelers put securing the correct foreign currency high on their to-do list.

That’s because no one wants to get stuck in a foreign country unable to pay their bill.

“You need to have cash on hand to pay for the cab, tips or even for restrooms,” says Lourdes Vega, Zions Bank vice president and EFX bank notes manager. “Some people also forget to notify their credit card company that they are going out of the country so their card is blocked when they start using it.”

To take the stress out of these situations, Vega recommends bringing at least $200 in local money on your trip. Getting those funds is easy through Zions Bank’s currency exchange service, which helps travelers secure foreign cash before arriving at their destination.

Available Currencies

Zions Bank provides access to approximately 80 foreign currencies. Customers may place an order at any local branch or online. Once requested, most currencies take two to five business days to arrive.

Some locations also have a stock of the most popular currencies. For example, Zions Bank’s main office in Salt Lake City has 14 commonly used currencies available for immediate exchange: Australia dollar, Brazil real, Canada dollar, Switzerland franc, China yuan, Denmark krone, European Union euro, United Kingdom pound, Hong Kong dollar, Japan yen, Mexico peso, Norway krone, New Zealand dollar and Sweden krona.

Other offices with foreign currency on hand are Boise Main, St. George Main and Provo Region. These locations have cash bills for Australia, Canada, Japan, Mexico, the EU and the U.K.

Additionally, the Draper, Logan 14th North, South Ogden and Newpark Park City branches have recently started offering on-demand currency for Canada, Mexico, the EU and the U.K.

The service is complimentary to customers. For others, there is a $10 noncustomer fee. Only cash bills are for sale, and the smallest denominations available are listed at zionsbank.com. Daily exchange rates are also available on the site, including prices for buying and selling each foreign currency.

Pitfalls to Avoid

Through the years, Vega has seen travelers make several currency exchange mistakes.

“Before you go, you need to make sure you know the currency the country or city uses,” Vega says. “We’ve had customers say, ‘I’m going to Europe, I need euros,’ and they go to Northern Ireland and find out they need pounds instead, even though Ireland uses euros. It’s the same island but requires different currencies depending on the location.”

Another mistake is bringing home lots of coins. While Zions Bank will buy back bills, it does not exchange coins. Travelers should spend their extra change while in the country unless they want to keep a few coins as souvenirs.

Finally, it’s important to plan ahead and not assume you’ll immediately secure currency.

“Some people come at the last minute and say they need currency tomorrow, but it may be one of those currencies or denominations that are hard to get,” Vega says. “Or there may be a storm or disaster that causes delays on the shipment.”

Vega recommends ordering the currency at least a week in advance so there’s enough time to manage any delays. Even with the potential challenges of exchanging foreign currency, Vega says most travelers are enthusiastic about the process because they’re excited to be going on a trip.

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