Frequent travelers would know that before leaving on an international trip, one of the necessary things to do is to exchange their money into the currency of their destination. This is important if your original currency isn’t accepted abroad, because you’d need to have the right currency to pay for necessary things like transportation fares, basic goods, and the like. Majority of airports both have local and foreign currency kiosks for passengers who need to change their money at the last minute, but is this the best way to convert cash? And if not, what are the other methods you can consider?
According to several travel blogs and websites, currency kiosks in airports are “notoriously poor” options because they have a lower conversion rate compared to other alternative options such as post offices, ATMS, banks, and legitimate money changing business. Some travelers have also noticed that there are hidden charges disguised as “service fee” every time you transact with them, which can be quite a hassle for those who are on a tight budget. This is why, while they are very convenient to travelers, airport money exchange services are deemed as the least preferred option when exchanging currencies.
Money changers are a viable option because not only are they abundant, with a store present in almost every city, but some also give better exchange rates than banks or credit unions. However, consumers must still be wary of getting ripped off or scammed.
A common scam by money changers is false advertisement. That is, they put up wrong exchange rates or add hidden fees disguised as commissions, making it seem like customers are getting the proper amount.
Before heading to any money changer, research and compare exchange rates among the most prominent money changers out there. It would also be beneficial if you can look for reviews to see how legit an establishment is.
Another thing to look out for when it comes to exchanging money is getting deceived by sly sleight-of-hand tricks that sketchy tellers do when dispensing money. In a matter of seconds, you’d be a few bills short, or you’d be given fake or tampered bills. While this doesn’t happen in most money changers, it’s still a good call to always be vigilant and always check your money before leaving the counter. Also, it helps to know how to discern between authentic and counterfeit bills.
If you missed the chance to exchange currency before leaving the country, there are also ATMs that are easy to find in foreign countries such as HSBC and Citibank. Depending on the bank, certain ATM charges and foreign transaction fees might be waived, so it’s recommended to check and notify your bank before travelling.
However, what if you forgot to bring your money? Luckily, you can still use your debit cards. According to Traveloka, most banks will charge an average of 5% international transaction fee, but if you’re lucky, some banks would not even charge anything at all. But not all countries accept cards as an option, and would still rather exchange physical cash.
The bottom line is, if you’re only weighing in convenience, then currency exchange stations at airports is the way to go, but if you want to stay on the safe side, then prepare beforehand and go to a trusted money changer. For utmost safety and peace of mind, bank transactions are your safest bet.
Here are some other tips when exchanging foreign currencies: