A nightmare is what I'm trying to avoid. Look on the internet and you see a great deal of people with credit cards charging 'unknown' fees and exchange rates. I'd like to not have to pay money to spend money. I've heard of spending money to make money, but this just seems backwards!
International Travel Credit Card and Currency Nightmare
Visa charges a 1% fee on every transaction to exchange the currency. This is not a bad deal comparatively. This will serve to all but wash out the 1.25% cash back I am receiving. This all assumes, however that Visa does in fact give the appropriate exchange rates and does not utilize, as others have reported some companies doing, their computer systems finding their most profitable conversion rate out of the few days surrounding the transaction date.
Converting cash seems to have much much higher fees - up to 10% based on my findings. Then you have to convert back what you don't spend. I found a nifty summary of some ATM and Credit card considerations at FlyerGuide. I will be utilizing my E-Trade ATM card for acquiring cash while overseas.