by Caitlin Lynch
When I was a teenager I spent a summer as an exchange student in Switzerland. Back then the Swiss Franc was about 0.81 to the dollar, so to convert prices to dollars I would multiply by 5 and divide by 3. By the end of the summer I’d covered my notebooks, receipts, and train stubs with tiny scribbles of long division. Currency conversion can bring out the elementary math skills in us all, for better or for worse. Fortunately, there are a number of excellent smartphone apps these days that take the pain out of foreign currency. We’ve scoured the internet and tested them out, and the following represent our tops picks for must-have currency apps for the modern traveler.
XE Currency Converter
The world’s favorite currency site is now available on the go with the XE Currency Converter app. With an attractive, simple interface, the mobile app packages most of the tools found on the website into a convenient go-to for users. XE Currency Converter feature live currency rates, historical rate charts, and a converter to calculate prices. The app covers world currencies as well as precious metals and can update by the minute. You can also convert prices without internet access—XE simply stores the last updated rates. With a handy Getting Started guide, this app is great for both simple calculation and an in-depth look at international exchange rates and markets.
Available for iPhone, iPad, Android, Blackberry, and Windows Phone 7. Free.
Converter Plus is a great all-around tool for orienting oneself within a foreign country. The app provides a straight-forward calculator for currency conversion, with exchange rate information for 167 currencies. Rates are automatically updated every six hours, but users can change the settings to higher frequency. Currency conversion is only one feature of Converter Plus though. With more than 100 categories, you can convert units for anything from temperature, distance, weight, and volume, to power, cooking measurements, and gas mileage.
Available for iPhone, iPad and Android. Free.
The Global Tipping app features friendly graphics and an interface that is both pleasant and easy to navigate. With information on over 30 countries, the app provides country profiles with detailed information on how and when to tip in a variety of places including restaurants, hotels, taxis, and salons. In addition, there are 3 different tip calculators that allow users to calculate tips for number of different scenarios. You can choose to calculate with or without tax, and the app even has an option for calculating individual tips for a group of people. For no nonsense tips and a great insight into tipping etiquette, Global Tipping is the way to go.
Compatible with iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad. Free.