For the travel enthusiast, the currency exchange represents another field of study. You have multiple things to consider when going to a new place and currency exchange is among these.
There are a few options for changing your money. Bellow is my list of tips for determining what is the best exchange method and for ensuring you are not getting ripped off in the process.
1. Check the exchange rate
Make sure you check the official exchange rate prior to your departure. You can do a basic check on one of the popular sites like www.xe.com. You can also check the rate at the banks or exchange offices in your country. The next step will be to check what are the rates at the most popular banks and exchange offices at your destination. This will offer you a better understanding of how much you should aim to receive after converting your currency to the destination currency.
2. Changing money at the airport is not always bad
The common advice is to change as little as possible at the airport since the rate is not too good. This is most of the time the case, but not always. There are situations when for changing the money at the airport you would receive a similar rate as in the city. Of course, only some specific exchange offices will offer this rate, therefore you will need to do a bit of research first.
3. Check the credit card fees
Many times withdrawing money from an ATM is preferable exchanging them at a currency exchange booth. Obviously, you need to consider the fees that may be applied by both your bank and the one of which ATM you’re using. Based on this you may decide if withdrawing money from the ATM is a good option or not.
4. Bring bills in good condition
If you live in a country with a currency that is easily convertible abroad (like USD or EUR) make sure your bills are in good condition. Many exchange offices will refuse the bills that are wrinkled, painted or have small deterioration.
5. Get a basic image of the new currency bills
Sometimes this might come in handy. I remember a story when some friends of mine received Belarusian rubles instead of Czech crowns.
Most of the time you won’t need to do this step….. as long as you follow the next tip.
6. Don’t change your money in the street or other obscure locations
This is common sense, although there might be circumstances when you will be tempted to ignore this advice. For example, until very recent in Argentina, the official exchange rate was considerably less favorable than the one from the “blue market”.
If you decide to ignore this advice then you should be very familiar with the currency bills in which you are converting yours.
7. Be aware of the popular scams when withdrawing money from the ATM
You probably heard about ATM frauds. Here is a link where you can have a look at the most common ways to identify if an ATM has been tampered with or not.
8. Avoid hidden commissions
This is probably the most important tip. Many currency exchange booths have hidden commissions or you can be misled by their signs. In some cases, the signs are printed in multiple languages, mixed together, and it’s easy to miss some important details. For example, you may miss that the rate you’re seeing it’s for travel checks instead of bills. In other situations, the signs with the commissions aren’t displayed in plain sight and you have to look around very well to notice them.
Anyway, there is a simple solution to this problem. A friend of my mine came up with an idea that will prevent you from being scammed at the exchange booth.
If you want to find the real amount that you are going to receive back from the exchange both you should show a bill (e.g. 100 USD) and ask how much are they going to give you for that bill.
It’s not mandatory to show the bill, but this will drop any language barrier. The exchange booth operator will most likely type you the amount you’re going to receive in a calculator or write it on a piece of paper.
So remember this quote:
How much for X dollars?
Don’t go too crazy about all these steps. Most of the time you will find the best option for you by doing a simple search on the internet. Just try to remember these simple tips whenever you need to change your money.
Hope you’ve found this article useful. You can find more travel tips here.