When preparing a trip abroad the financial aspect always emerges at one point or another. This is especially true if you are traveling to a country with a different currency. Do you need to exchange money before departure or directly abroad? Should you go to a bank or a money changer? What is the best choice for you?
Note : if you are currently looking for a currency exchange location in the USA, go to Currency Exchange locations in the USA
In Spain go to Currency Exchange locations in Spain
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Exchange currencies at a bank
It is quite possible to go to your bank and order foreign currencies. Do not expect your bank to store foreign bank notes, as it has to order them and you'll have to wait a few days at least. In addition, as this is not the main activity of banks, the rate which will be used to change your money may be unfavorable!
There is also a good chance that you have to pay a fixed commission amount. Our point of view is that it is clearly not the best choice to buy foreign bank notes from a bank this way. It makes more sense to use your credit card to withdraw money in the foreign country you are using. It won't be the best choice financially speaking, but at least you are sure that you will not be fooled by a dishonest money changer.
Check all your city's money changers and currency exchange offices
Money changers are professionals specialized in this craft, so they are more competitive than banks.
In fact, as there are many people who use their services, they can offer more competitive rates while making a living.
Before changing money, check out all the money changers as the difference in rates between one and another can be significant. For example, one money changer could have a very competitive USD-GBP rate but an unfavorable USD-YEN rate. Comparing money changers is especially important if you want to purchase a "rare" currency (a currency other than Euro, British pounds, US dollars or Yen).
For example, the writer of this article wanted to buy Indonesian rupiahs before leaving his home country. What was surprising was when some money changers rates were more than 30% below the official rate!
However, keep in mind that in your home country you can easily compare money changers, which is not necessarily the case once there! (lack of time, lack of knowledge of local shops, limited internet access, different language barriers...)
So if you are traveling to a country such as the USA, the United Kingdom or the Euro zone, it is quite possible to find interesting rates in your home country and thus save you both time and money.
Order foreign currencies online
Alternatively, you can order foreign currency at very competitive rates while sitting comfortable at home . Indeed, many currency exchange offices offer to directly order foreign currencies online .
You will receive your bank notes by mail at your place.
It is the ideal solution if you do not leave the next day (you have to wait a few days for your bank notes to arrive) and especially if you do not want to spend time in the city going from one money changer to another.
Please note that you can also order currency online and then pick them up at the money changer. The rates are usually better than if go you directly to store. The comparison of these exchange offices online is the main goal for this website, do not hesitate to use our comparison tool for the purchase or sale of foreign currency online.
Find a money changer abroad
You have decided not to change money in your home country and must now find an office to change your bank notes for you.
This solution can be either the best or the worst.
With exotic currencies, finding a currency exchange at your place with great rates (< 5%) is nearly impossible (unless you use our comparison tool )).
Conversely, finding U.S. dollars, Euros or British pounds at competitive rates in the Euro zone, UK or the USA is no problem, so if you plan to visit one of these countries, you could directly change money there.
In general, it is often possible to withdraw money or find a currency exchange at the airport of your choice destination. The rates are not the best but it is necessary to have a minimum amount of money for public transportation or a taxi before you go looking for a competitive money changer.
Ask the money changer verbally how much net currencies you get for the amount of money you want to exchange
However, beware of scams! Keep in mind the official exchange rate , so as to not fall victim to dishonest money changers that will charge you a lot.
The easiest way is to ask the money changer verbally how much you get for the amount of money you want to exchange. Generally, the dealer does not lie about the amount.
Ask for the NET amount. (net of fees and commissions).
In conclusion, our advice is to always go abroad with a small amount of local currency, enough to pay for a taxi and a hotel night.
If you are going to a country whose currency is international, it is interesting to tour the money changers in your own country because the rates are competitive, probably more competitive than what you will find abroad.
Conversely, if you go to an exotic country, the exchange rate locally may be served in your favor. In this case, do not change money in your home country more than the minimum unless you're afraid of getting scammed by a foreign money changer.