advertisement

Frommer's lists exact prices in the local currency. However, rates fluctuate, so before departing, consult a currency exchange website such as www.oanda.com/convert/classic or www.xe.com/ucc to check up-to-the-minute rates.

Like other large American cities, Boston can be an expensive destination. At the high end, it's nearly as costly as New York. The average hotel room rate in Boston and Cambridge is about $190 -- down from $200 in 2008, before the recession set in -- and that average includes deep off-season discounts. The area does offer numerous ways to offset the price of lodging. Some attractions offer free or discounted admission at certain times, and the performing arts provide options for every budget. Dining choices, from hole-in-the-wall noodle joints to acclaimed special-occasion restaurants, are equally diverse.

If you're visiting Boston from overseas, exchange enough petty cash to cover airport incidentals, tipping, and transportation to your hotel before you leave home, or withdraw money upon arrival at an airport ATM. Throughout eastern Massachusetts, you'll have little or no trouble finding ATMs (also known as "cash machines" or "cashpoints"); they're everywhere, even in some subway stations. Cirrus (tel. 800/4CIRRUS [800/424-7787]; www.mastercard.com) and PLUS (tel. 800/THE-PLUS [843-7587]; www.visa.com) are the major networks. The NYCE network (www.nyce.net) operates primarily in the eastern United States. NYCE administers the SUM network (www.sum-atm.com), which waives fees for customers of member banks using most ATMs belonging to other members. Look at the back of your bank card to see which network you're on, then call, check online, or download a smartphone app to find ATM locations in the Boston area.

Be sure you know your personal identification number (PIN) and your daily withdrawal limit before you depart. If you have a five- or six-digit PIN, ask your bank whether it will work; you may need to change it to a four-digit number. Also keep in mind that most banks impose a fee every time you use your card at a different bank's ATM, and the bank from which you withdraw cash may charge its own fee. At Massachusetts ATMs, a message should appear -- onscreen or on a sticker near the keypad -- specifying the amount of the charge.

Beware of hidden credit card fees while traveling. Check with your credit or debit card issuer to see what fees, if any, will be charged for overseas transactions. Recent reform legislation in the U.S., for example, has curbed some exploitative lending practices. But many banks have responded by increasing fees in other areas, including fees for customers who use credit and debit cards while out of the country -- even if those charges were made in U.S. dollars. Fees can amount to 3% or more of the purchase price. Check with your bank before departing to avoid any surprise charges on your statement.

Stores and restaurants that accept credit cards generally accept debit cards, and some stores and most U.S. post offices enable you to receive "cash back" on your debit card purchases as well. If you don't keep a large checking balance, be aware that most banks "freeze" a portion of your account when you initiate a purchase without a definite total, such as a car rental or tank of gas.

Credit cards and debit cards are more often used, but traveler's checks are widely accepted in the U.S. In tourist-friendly Boston, you won't have much trouble using traveler's checks at any business. International visitors should make sure that they're denominated in U.S. dollars; foreign-currency checks are often difficult to exchange.

For help with currency conversions, tip calculations, and more, download the convenient Frommer's Travel Tools app for your mobile device. Go to www.frommers.com/go/mobile and click on the Travel Tools icon.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.