Blog > December 2018 > Where Should You Exchange Foreign Currency?

Where Should You Exchange Foreign Currency?

Preparation is key to any venture. Especially if this venture implies you finding yourself in a foreign country. In other words, should always consider possible issues you may stumble upon during your travels and maybe even try figuring some of those out before even departing. One of the things worth mentioning, that every tourist struggles with at some point, is the question of money exchange.

Maybe it seems ridiculous to you that we’re even discussing it. You can change money in a foreign country a million ways, right? While that is true, it doesn’t change the fact that not every money exchange option is equally fair. This is why you need to learn where to exchange foreign currency and why.

source: Pixabay

The Airport

Logically thinking, the airport is the first actual encounter you have with the foreign country. You’ve just arrived so it’s only natural that you exchange your money right away since you’ll need the local currency from that moment on.

But, stop and think for a second.

How much is a cup of coffee at the airport? Or a candy bar? In essence, everything is more expensive at the airport than at the first shop you enter once you leave the airport ground.

This is the same in all countries and it’s something people are used to.

Well, the same goes with the money exchange fees. Airports hold on to:

  • high fees
  • service charges

This is why the exchange costs you more than you’d like it.

Therefore, you should definitely avoid exchanging foreign currency at the airport.


Most of today’s better-equipped hotels have their own exchange offices within the premises. This way their guests don’t have to bother going outside and looking for places to change their money.

However, hotel exchange offices work the similar way as the ones at the airport.

They are convenient at your disposal all day long, but they are not doing it for pure courtesy.

On the contrary, their fees are higher than in most other places and they earn a solid provision for every exchange they do.

They are fine for exchanging a smaller amount of money once. But if you plan on exchanging all your travel money in one place, it should not be the hotel exchange office.

Your Bank

There are banks which work internationally and you can find them in different countries.

If you’re in luck, you might be able to find your original bank and make the exchange there. It is beneficial because:

  • you can withdraw cash from your original bank account and exchange it at the same place
  • the fee will be smaller
  • you won’t have to carry cash from home

This implies that you have to do the research and see if your bank has a business unit at your planned destination. In addition, you need to see how far is it from your accommodation and your planned route during your trip.

“You should never exchange money in a foreign country on the spur of the moment. Looking into all options is highly recommended, and finding your original bank is one of the more convenient ways to go” says the CEO of PickWriters.

A Random Bank

Hey, a bank is a bank, right? It should be fairly safe to do the exchange at any given bank in the foreign country, shouldn’t it?

The truth is, you never know.

If you’re thinking about exchanging the money at the local bank, you are entering the unknown and who knows what’s waiting for you in there.

Some banks have high fees for exchanging foreign currencies into local ones. That means you could lose a significant amount of money in the exchange and it may affect your planned budget.


Another way to exchange a foreign currency is to do it directly from an ATM.

ATMs offer exchange services but you need to be smart about using them.

The best thing you can do and you should definitely check is:

  • your interbank network

As defined by Wikipedia, an interbank network is

“a computer network that enables ATM cards issued by a financial institution that is a member of the network to be used to perform ATM transactions through ATMs that belong to another member of the network”

That means that you don’t have to be a member of the bank whose ATM you’re using, as long as you belong to the same interbank network.

You should check to see which ATMs you can use and which network you belong to. It does require doing research but it’s more than worth it.

In addition, see if you can find data about the fees such as the conversion rate, international transaction fee etc. Due to the fees its “usually better to make one or two larger withdrawals rather than lots of smaller ones” according to The Guardian.

Online Currency Services

If you’re one of those people who doesn’t like to take risks and hates surprises, you may want to consider exchanging your money even before you sail away.  

source: Pixabay

Luckily for you, there are online currency services which take care of the money exchange for you. All you have to do is find the right one and place the order.

So, how exactly do they work?

Here’s a couple of easy steps you’ll be asked to complete once you find the online currency service:

  • choose the desired currency or country
  • choose the amount you want to exchange
  • choose how you want to do the transaction
  • select the shipping
  • place your order

This option is great since you’re completely in charge of your money and you can stop and consider the fee they’re offering. In addition, you know exactly how much money you’ll be spending on the exchange.

The exchanged money will be delivered to your home address and you’ll be all set to start your trip without worrying.

Final Thoughts

As you can see, certain ways of exchanging money can be convenient but they also come with hidden costs and high fees. You may feel like these fees aren’t such a big deal when you look at them individually. However, looking at the grand total, you’ll find a significant amount that you could’ve spent on souvenirs, touristic attractions or local cuisine.

Therefore, be wise about foreign currency exchange and try making the right decisions in advance. You’ll save yourself the time and most importantly, your money.

Elisa Abbott is a freelancer whose passion lies in creative writing. She completed a degree in Computer Science and writes about ways to apply machine learning to deal with complex issues. Insights on education, helpful tools and valuable university experiences – she has got you covered;)

Posted: 12/4/2018 9:42:34 AM by Global Administrator | with 0 comments

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