With more and more Americans planning their summer holidays, it is imperative that they know how to find the best deals on currency exchange. A recent survey revealed that some 35 per cent of US travellers have at some point found themselves overseas without cash. Only 4 per cent of respondents said that they made sure that they had access to foreign currency while abroad a top priority.

Far too many travellers, business and leisure alike, leave organising their foreign currency needs until literally the last minute, picking up what they think they will need at the airport just prior to embarkation on their flight. In fact, obtaining money at an airport or railway station almost guarantees that you will get a bad deal, with high rates of commission and the least generous exchange rates.

If a trip is being booked well ahead, then in many cases it pays to wait and see what direction the foreign currency exchange rates are headed, in the case of the Euro, the dollar appears to be gaining, so a little caution could pay off. However, the pound is not currently gaining any ground against the dollar and travellers to the UK should pick up their UK pounds as soon as possible.

Either way, foreign currency should be obtained well before the day of travel itself, from specialists who seek out and trade on the most competitive rates. Business travellers can get even better deals by buying in bulk and forming an ongoing relationship with such organisations.

Another way of obtaining foreign currency that should be avoided unless absolutely necessary is buying currency through credit and debit cards. Almost all of these cards levy a conversion charge on their foreign currency transactions, which usually stands at around 2.75 per cent. Some cards even charge as much as 2.99 per cent and deliberately employ the least competitive exchange rates to further reduce the value of the money obtained.

All in all, a reliable currency exchange service remains the best place to buy any foreign currency needed for visits overseas. The convenience of foreign ATMs and bureaux de change facilities can be easily outweighed by the money that a traveller can lose.