There are a ton of apps out there for managing expenses, making purchases, sending money to family and friends, etc. but in this article, we want to highlight some of the best finance apps that we use on the road as long-term travelers. Since we depend on our phones so much while traveling, I can’t imagine traveling without these apps since we use them all daily. All 3 of the apps below are completely FREE to download (although some charge a transaction fee when transferring money).
XE Currency (iOS and Android)
XE Currency is a currency exchange rate app that displays the live conversion rate. This is one of our go-to travel money apps. It helps us keep things straight for our budget on the road. Often, it can be confusing when you first arrive in a new location when trying to understand how far one dollar goes. It allows you to view multiple currencies at one time.
Googling whether a country is expensive or cheap doesn’t always quite relate directly to what you will find once you arrive. It’s time-consuming to just look up the price of a chicken or 2L water at the local supermarket. This is the quickest way to address that.
The app updates every 60 seconds when connected to the internet and it keeps the last number stored when you’re offline. You would need to have a connection when adding a new currency since it can’t store all currency rates all the time.
The app does have the capability to transfer money between accounts; however, I cannot speak to the transfer rates and process since we do not use this app for it. We will cover more of that below. If you’re interested in the app, check it out here.
Western Union (iOS and Android)
WE use Western Union to transfer money. Western Union is a great choice as a money app for travel because it operates in almost every country. We use Western Union to transfer money to ourselves to withdraw for cash. Additionally, we’ve seen people use their service if their debit cards get stolen because the money is transferred between bank accounts. So, if you lose your wallet, you would still have access to money in the meantime.
In our experience, the exchange rates we have received through the app have been the same or better than the exchange offices. During our recent visit trip to Argentina, were found Western Union to give a much better rate than at the official exchanges and ATMs. In Argentina specifically, cambios (money exchanges) and ATMs are notorious for either charging exorbitant fees or running out of money. Although Western Union charges a transaction fee, we still see a better rate of return with a better exchange rate.
For example, we saved $18USD per USD 100 withdrew. Suppose, we wanted USD 100 in cash. At the time of writing this post, Western Union’s exchange rate would give us ARS 8337 while the official rate would give us$6,000.90 ARS. That’s a difference of ARS 2,336.10 more. Even after taking out the $10USD fee ( or ARS 830 at the higher rate), that’s still a net positive of ARS 1,506 ( or $18USD)!!! It is worth having Western Union for savings like this. The photos below of Western Union, Western Unions fee statement, and XE Currency rate show the same example directly from the source.
**Keep in mind that this isn’t always the case but, it should be a tool in your arsenal to help make the best use of your money.
Xoom (iOs and Android)
Xoom is a company owned by PayPal that allows you to make payments and recharge your prepaid phone account online.
We had T-Mobile before we left on our trip and while researching plans on how to keep connected, we learned that after approximately 90 days, our phones would not work any longer. This would not work for us long term. While there are some other plans, we found it best to purchase prepaid SIM cards in different countries depending on our length of stay.
This leads us to the reason we love Xoom – it eliminates the inconvenience of finding a place to recharge your prepaid device. In Chile and Argentina, our foreign credit cards did not work to recharge the phones. So, we would have to pay cash at a pharmacy when we needed to re-up our service. Without Xoom, we would have to venture to an electronics or convenience store to purchase the SIM Card. Then once we had it, we would have to go to a pharmacy to pay in cash to recharge our phone. This is a big inconvenience when we depend on our phones so much and Xoom has made all of this easier. There is a small fee for the transaction so that’s something to think about depending on how much money you want to add to your plan but, all-in-all, it has been super useful for us especially when we were in a pinch on cash. Check it out!
One more thing: if you enjoyed this post, please share it!