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Study Abroad Blog

Currency exchange rates: Why it’s a big deal for Study Abroad

Posted by Nadia Ibrahim-Taney on Oct 1, 2017 6:00:00 PM


Using and understanding money abroad can be daunting even for the most travelled student, but with our quick tips here, you’ll learn how to get the biggest bang for your buck abroad!

Apples and Oranges

It’s easy to forget that an American dollar differs from a Canadian dollar which differs from an Australian dollar even though they all use the same language. As equally such, when travelling abroad in the UK and Europe, you may forget that one American or Canadian dollar doesn’t equal one British Pound or Euro. It’s important to convert currencies so you have a more accurate understanding of how much you are really spending. There are loads of currency apps like CurrencyApp or XE Currency that can help you in real time know if that shirt in Paris is really worth it or how expensive that Afternoon tea you’ve been dying to try out really is.

It’s always changing…

The best practice to getting the most out of your money is to watch the exchange rates for about 3 months prior to your study abroad and learn how the market ebbs and flows. You can easily do this on Google Finance by typing in your home currency and destination currency to compare. Exchange rates change when markets are open, so usually 24 hours a day, but having at least a 3-month period or quarter of the year understanding of the market will better inform you when you should exchange money or save it for when the exchange rate is more favourable for you.

Credit Cards

The majority of major businesses abroad offer credit card purchase opportunities in lei of cash. Be sure to check with your credit card company or bank before traveling abroad to learn how the charge will come up on your statement. Some companies will charge you in local currency plus a foreign transaction fee while others will convert your foreign transaction into your home currency at the time of purchase using exchange rates for that day. Some fancy places, think Harrods in London, give you the option of paying in British Pounds or your home currency at the register (or till) so it’s entirely up to you which you choose!


For North American currencies, such as the American and Canadian dollar, Brexit has made traveling and studying in the UK more affordable for students as the British Pound, or Pound Sterling as it’s officially called, has decreased in value. In 2013, the British Pound was about $1.60 US Dollar meaning that a dollar was worth about 40 pence. Since then, the exchange rate has gone up and down (it was nearly $1.80 in mid 2014!) but is at an all-time low averaging about $1.29 or 77 pence. So, if you exchange $10 USD you will get back £7.74 today versus 2013 values of £4. That may not seem that big a difference for ten bucks but think of bigger expenses like accommodation or tuition fees in the thousands!

Combined with more low-cost airlines servicing the UK from many North American cities, low currency exchange rates and competing travel rates on hotels, trains, buses etc. in the UK, there has never a better time to study in the UK, so get going and apply with us today!

UK Study Abroad Program Guide

Topics: short term studying

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