Sometimes when travelling, there’s just no way around having to exchange your money. And, unfortunately, getting foreign currency exchanged isn’t always the straightforward process it should be.
Choosing the right method could save you a significant amount of time and money. Here we look at methods of currency exchange, and which option may be the best for you.
Taking A Trip To The Bank
It can cost you less to get foreign currency exchanged at your local bank than exchanging it at a foreign one. However, exchanging currency at a bank can still be expensive. This is because banks charge a premium on foreign currencies.
The rates you see on boards in banks are never that day’s true Foreign Exchange market rates. Exchanging currency at a bank counter or online, is a case of buyer beware, so be sure to do some research. The Canadian Bankers Association says that banks here do work to ensure the rates they offer are competitive.
It is also very important to note that your bank may not have the currency you want available. This is likely if you are travelling somewhere that does not use one of the major currencies.
Banks don’t usually have exotic currencies on location, so you should call in advance to order your desired currency. It will typically be available to pick up within a few days, but many banks will deliver it to you for a fee.
Bureau de Change
Going to the Bureau de Change at the airport is super convenient. But, as you may have guessed, is also very expensive. It’s like buying a beer at a sports event – you know it’s expensive, but it’s the only resort left.
Just like in banks, the rates displayed at these bureaus are never that day’s true FX market ones. They too are charging a premium on foreign currencies in order to cover their (high) retail costs and make a decent profit.
Changing money at the airport is often a person’s last resort before departing. Bureaus understand this and charge slightly more than some banks because they know they can. Many of them also charge a flat fee along with their conversion rates.
However, bureaus are likely to have a large variety of currencies available right there and then. This is particularly true at large international airports that have flights to every corner of the globe.
Using your card overseas can be super convenient – but you’ll have to do some research first. This is because your bank can slam you with fees when withdrawing cash from an ATM abroad.
When making a cash withdrawal it can be hard to know exactly what it just cost you – not good. You can be charged withdrawal fees, conversion fees and a high exchange rate from your bank.
The best option is to use in-network ATMS, as some large banks have worldwide branches. Also, many other banks have overseas sister banks that will save you at least one fee.
If you chose this method, we recommend you withdraw large sums as infrequently as possible.
Both VISA and MasterCard have ATM locators so you can find the right ATM before you even take off.
You can also directly swipe major cards that you already own, at points of purchase when you are overseas. While swipe transactions do not carry a transaction fee, you are hit by bad exchange rates that show up much later on your bank statement or credit card statement. Some banks also charge a service fee on foreign currency transactions made on their Visa / Mastercard branded cards.
Online Currency Exchange
There are several online platforms that allow customers to get your foreign currency exchanged online. Sadly, many of these Money Service Businesses (MSBs) also charge very high fees. Some global money transfer companies charge their fees as a percentage of the amount being sent.
Many bang on about the unfair conversion rates charged by banks, while themselves disguising their own fees. However, there are some transfer companies – such us at REMITR – that offer a very low flat fee.
What Is The Best Way To Send Money Internationally?
When opening a bank account abroad, moving large amounts of cash from one country to another is a struggle. Carrying large sums of money is dangerous, and most accounts have daily withdrawal limits from ATMs. And there’s also all the various hidden ATM fees we discussed earlier.
Once your new account is set up, you’re going to have to transfer your funds to your new overseas account. Sending money from one bank account to another via bank wire transfer can be expensive. This is especially true in the case of an international payment.
And, as we mentioned above, most online money transfer companies aren’t much cheaper.
The last thing you want to do in this situation is to sacrifice huge portions of your money. Thankfully, our service here at REMITR is here to save you both time and money. Our service allows users to send and receive money 24/7 in 150 countries worldwide. We offer the best live exchange rate, no matter what the currency.
And the good news keeps coming – using REMITR guarantees you savings, charging a flat fee as low as $5! There are no sneaky receiver fees involved either when you pay in the local currency of the country where you hold the bank account. With REMITR Collect, you will receive a free Global Account – receiving payments into this account is free!
Looking for the best way to get your foreign currency exchanged? Get in touch with REMITR today.