Now this is a topic not many people think about – I’d say the majority of people simply rock up at the airport, exchange their money and set off on their holiday. Little do they know how much money they have just lost. So here are a few tips to maximize your money when exchanging into a different currency:
Do not exchange money at the airport or major train stations
Rookie mistake. Just don’t do it. Exchange rates are the worst at these locations. Often they will offer 0% commission or a guaranteed buyback offer (i.e. they will buy any currency you have left over at the same rate that you exchanged at), but this is purely all smoke and mirrors to fool you into thinking you’ve got yourself a good deal.
Monitor the official exchange rate over several weeks
This sounds pretty technical, but it is super easy.
Just use the XE Currency Charts and chose the currencies you want to monitor. A beautiful chart will pop up and this can give you a guide as to how the market is going and roughly what you can expect in the near future.
Compare the rates on aggregate sites
These sites are fantastic as they search through all the major and minor banks and agencies which offer currency exchange and work out which is offering the best deals. You can then place an order online with the option of: pick-up in store, delivered to your house or airport pick-up. Keep in mind the exchange rate does vary depending on the option you chose, generally pick-up in store gives you the best deal.
If you’re in:
Exchanging money once you’re at your destination
There are situations where you can’t exchange your currency to the one you want, this often occurs when you go somewhere that is less travelled (eg. Mongolia, Bolivia etc.). In such a situation it does make it a bit difficult to get a great exchange rate, but a few options are:
- Bring cash with you and exchange it at a currency exchange in the city when you arrive
- Withdraw from a local ATM
It may be worthwhile to exchange a small amount at the airport so you can at least pay for your transport to your hotel.
Get a Travel Card
Unless your normal bank offers incredible exchange rates, get yourself a travel debit or credit card. There are plenty of companies that offer them and there’s always new products available so keep an eye out.
Generally travel cards can be divided under 3 categories:
- Credit Cards
- Single currency Debit Cards
- Multi currency Debit Cards
We use the Revolut card which is a Multi-currency debit card (for European residents). Simply download the Revolut app, click order a card and one will be sent to your house in a few days. It’s free and the best thing is you can link it to your normal bank card to top it up which takes a few seconds through the app. The other benefit is that it offers incredible exchange rates which are very close to the official exchange rate. It also allows you to withdraw up to £500 free each month!
For Australian residents, I would highly recommend the Citibank Plus card which is free to setup, allows free cash withdrawals overseas with great exchange rates.
Generally the key things to look for are:
- FREE card
- FREE cash withdrawals
- FREE conversion (i.e. they don’t charge you a fee to convert the currency)
It is also worthwhile checking out reviews from other customers who have used those cards, because sometimes they look good on paper but the reality is completely different.
Hopefully that gives you a few ideas on maximising your money 🙂
Til next time
Ann & Jason xo