Kansas City – I made a couple of stops today at my local bank, getting one major step of the process of preparing for departure out of the way: money. There are always some questions floating about in the rumour-mill regarding how to go about banking and taking money abroad. In the past it was a bit trickier for me, as I used to bank at a more localised bank, that didn’t have a very good international department. Now however, since moving into Kansas City, MO, I’ve switched to a bigger bank, Commerce to be precise, that thankfully does have a good international department, as I experienced today.
Not only were they able to set up my accounts so I can use my regular card over in the UK, but also were able to supply me with enough Pound Sterling (GB£) to get started overseas in regards to setting up a cellphone (mobile phone) plan, etc. upon arrival. If you’re in Kansas City, or St Louis, Commerce offers foreign exchange services at 8 branches in Kansas City and 1 branch in St Louis. From what I saw at the Plaza branch where I got the GBP in question, they offer at least Canadian Dollars (CAD), Euros (EUR), and British Pound Sterling (GBP) Mexican Pesos (MXN). I’m not certain, for example, whether or not one can exchange at Commerce for other currencies, the Australian (AUD), or New Zealand (NZD) Dollars, Japanese Yen (JPY), or the Russian Ruble (RUB) just being a few examples. Other places in the past that I have gone to for currency exchange on my way out have included any currency exchange post at any major airport.
I’d make sure you have your credit or debit card(s) as well on hand when abroad, just in case you need them. As much as I’d love to use hard cash, in part due to the nostalgia of it, it is often more useful to use the plastic. A friend recently proposed the idea of the United States dollar leaving the realm of actual hard currency (coins and banknotes) and turning towards an electronic currency, physicalised in one’s cards.