At The Bank
You may only use your credit card or debit card when you’re on holiday, but banks can still be useful for travellers.
For example, your bank may allow you to withdraw money abroad for free if you use a particular bank. It’s useful to be able to ask where a specific bank is if you need it for this purpose. Credit and debit cards are great, but sometimes you need cash to tip people with, or to buy items at markets. Banks have machines that allow you to withdraw money from your account. Banks are handy!
You already know how to ask for and follow directions that locals give you. Some useful phrases for asking where a bank is are:
Excuse me? Can you tell me where the nearest bank is?
Do you know if there’s an ATM/bank machine nearby?
Excuse me? Is there a National Bank close by? (Replace ‘National Bank’ with then name of the specific bank you want to find.)
If you need to withdraw cash and it doesn’t matter which bank you use, then you can use an ATM. This means Automated Teller Machine. These are more common than banks, and you can often find them outside local shops. You can check how much money is in your bank account at an ATM, withdraw money and sometimes even pay bills.
Top tip: Be careful when you choose an ATM! Some machines will charge you to withdraw money. Check the screen before you put your card into the machine. If there is a fee, there will be a warning on the screen to tell you how much the fee is.
Here’s some useful vocabulary to know when you’re using an ATM:
Withdraw – take some money out of your bank account
Check balance – check how much money is in your bank account
PIN – this means ‘Personal Identification Number’. This is the passcode you need to access your account when you use an ATM or make a transaction.
Exchange rate – how much money you will receive in foreign currency in exchange for your own currency
Receipt – Most ATMs will ask you if you want a receipt. If you want to keep track of the money you withdraw, it’s a good idea to print the receipt. Make sure you keep it safe!
Top tip: Some banks will charge you a fee every time you withdraw money abroad. Before you go on holiday, check with your bank if they charge and how much it will cost. It may be significantly cheaper to withdraw £100 once when you are on holiday, instead of withdrawing £20 five times. You will withdraw the same amount of money, but the charge will be less!
What about exchanging my currency for foreign currency?
This may sound strange…but when you are travelling abroad, banks are not a great place to exchange money! Most banks only offer currency exchange to their own customers. For example, if you live in the UK and want to travel to the US, you can ask your bank to exchange some pounds for dollars. This doesn’t work if you’re already in the US and want to exchange your pounds for dollars. Don’t worry! There are lots of other places you can find a currency exchange service.
Top tip: You can search for the nearest place that offers currency exchange just by performing a quick online search. It might surprise you to know that some shops and department stores offer currency exchange!
Other places you are likely to find currency exchange services are:
- The post office (more about this in the next part of this lesson!)
- The airport
- Some supermarkets
Top tip: If there are lots of places that offer currency exchange, check which one is the cheapest! All exchange rates are different, so look for the best deal and you will save a little money. The airport is usually the most expensive place to exchange currency.
Once you’ve found the best exchange rate, you’re ready to get the money you need. Look for the ‘Currency Exchange’ counter and then use this dialogue to help you:
A: Good afternoon. How can I help you?
B: I’d like to buy some pounds, please.
A: Yes. How much would you like?
B: £200 would be great.
A: Which currency are you paying in?
B: US dollars.
A: £200 will cost $265. Is that ok?
B: Yes, that’s fine, thank you.