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The have been two times on my travels where I've desperately needed access to a currency conversion app.
The first was in Moscow, Russia. I'd just touched down in Moscow's Airport and needed to grab some money from a nearby ATM. The night before my flight, I had forgotten to look up the exchange rate of the Russian ruble to the U.S. dollar and subsequently had no idea how much money to withdraw.
I was only going to be in the country for 48 hours and had paid for everything but my meals in advance, so I knew I wouldn't need much. I picked a number that sounded like it could be the equivalent of $50 and crossed my fingers.
When I arrived at my hostel, an hour later, I looked up the exchange rate online and discovered I had withdrawn $400 for my two-day trip to Russia!
It works the other way, too.
I was recently in Mozambique and—you guessed it!—forgot to look up the exchange rate in advance. In this case, the exact opposite happened and I managed to withdraw a whopping equivalent of $3 from the airport ATM! I discovered my mistake only when I left the arrivals hall and attempted to negotiate a fare with a taxi driver.
Learn from my mistakes. Download a currency conversion app before taking any trip, and most importantly of all, download the conversion rate for the country you'll be visiting in advance, too.
You'll never know how important it is until you're stood in front of a taxi driver trying to talk down his $30 fare to $1.50.
I've been researching the top currency conversion apps over the past few months to make sure I never get caught out again. Here are the ones you should be using.
Our Top Picks
If you ask for my recommendation for just one currency app, I'll tell you to go with XE Currency. It's available on both Apple and Android, allows you to keep track of live rates of every currency, and works offline. Remember to download the conversion rate of every country you'll be visiting before you leave and you'll be good to go.
If you want your currency converter to do more than convert your coins for you, take a look at CalConvert, which also includes a calculator. The calculator has advanced scientific and mathematical functions, saves a history of your calculations, and allows you to convert hundreds of different units in addition to currencies. It also features 24 hour support in case you ever find yourself needing help.
If you're an Apple user and want an easy-to-use currency converter that doesn't require you to remember to download the exchange rates in advance, Currency Convert is the app for you! Simply set your base currency and the app will download the current exchange rates for every country and display them within the app. This is a great option if you can be forgetful on the road and fear you won't remember to download the rates in advance.
My Currency Converter
If you trade in virtual currency, My Currency Converter will be a great app for you. In addition to offering conversion rates for every fiat currency in the world, My Currency Converter also supports BitCoin, DogeCoin, and more, so that you can keep track of your money no matter where you are and where it's kept. The app also updates the exchange rates automatically for you and offers a rate to three decimal figures.
If simplicity is your jam, Valuta+ is definitely worth taking a look at. It's incredibly user-friendly, is super-easy to use, and allows you to mark your favorite currencies, so that you don't have to keep scrolling through the list to find the right one. It also works offline, which is useful if you're haggling in a market and can't quite remember the exchange rate.
This article has been edited and updated by Lauren Juliff.