The options here for getting the best exchange rate in New York City are in order from best to worst exchange rates and expenses.
ATM Withdrawal From Your Foreign Bank Account or Using Your Credit Card to Pay for Purchases
This exchange is done at the interbank rate, which is the exchange rate that banks charge one another. Likely fees include a local ATM fee, your bank's charge for withdrawing money an ATM, and possibly a foreign currency fee from your bank.
Cash Advance on Your Credit Card
This exchange is done at the interbank rate, which is the exchange rate that banks charge one another. Likely fees include a local ATM fee, your bank's charge for withdrawing money an ATM, cash advance charges on credit card, and possibly a foreign currency fee from your bank.
Traveler's Checks in US Dollars
These are sold at a less advantageous rate in your home country, but if you use them as you would cash in the US there is no additional charge and many hotels will cash them for you for no charge. At the time of purchase, you will pay a fee for issuing the traveler's checks.
Traveler's Checks in Foreign Currency and Foreign Currency
In addition to a retail exchange rate, it is likely that you will have to pay a commission fee in order to convert the currency or traveler's checks into US dollars.
- ATMs (Automatic Teller Machines) offer easy access and the best exchange rates for U.S. currency from your foreign bank account or credit card account.
- If you need to exchange foreign currency, rates tend to be better in the city compared to at the airport.
- The exchange rate ATMs and credit cards offer is the interbank rate, which is most often a much better rate than currency exchange offices will offer.
- Most U.S. ATM machines charge non-customers for withdrawals, so that will add to the expense.
- Check with your bank or credit card company before traveling to see if they charge a currency conversion fee for using your card abroad.
- All taxis currently accept credit cards, so you don't need to worry about getting cash to pay for cabs.
- When you first arrive in New York City at the airport, you'll have no trouble getting money with your ATM/debit card, as there are ATMs located in every terminal, and there are also currency exchange booths available in many locations.
- Visa and Mastercard are the most widely accepted credit cards, though sometimes stores/restaurants will only accept American Express.
- Cash-only restaurants/stores are much more common in New York City than they are elsewhere.