What’s the Currency Exchange Rate – All I need to do is compare them against each other to get the best rate right?
Most travelers think that as long as they know the exchange rates – they can simply compare them from one currency exchange booth to another – and sometimes you’ll find several all in a row. But, when it comes to money changing, what you see is not necessarily what you get.
For example, some money changing booths post an exchange rate that looks really great but when you make the exchange that’s not the rate they give you. With all the hustle and the language difficulties, you might not even spot it, but if you do, you’ll find either that you’ve been charged an additional “commission” or that the posted rate applies to sums over $1,000, or that they rate “posted” is the “day rate” when you are changing your money at night. As you have always heard, the devil is in the details, and most travelers don’t spend too much time understanding exactly how much they will end up within their hand at the end of the currency exchange transaction.
Be familiar with the current internet exchange rate on a regular basis. Rates do fluctuate from day to day. Use the internet rates as a basis to judge exchange rates you find at money exchange shops and to determine how much local cash to get when you have to. If a money exchange shop offers rates better than the current internet rate, stay away! They’ve got some tricks up their sleeves.
When comparing rates bank to bank, what you want is the bank whose chart shows the highest number in the “buying dollars” column. This will be the best rate. However, unless you’re using the ATM, you must also factor in the commission fee. Sometimes this is a flat fee equal to a couple of dollars; other times it’s anywhere from 2% to 10% of however much you’re exchanging.
Occasionally, a slightly less attractive exchange rate coupled with low or flat fee commission can cost you less in the long run than a great-looking rate that’s hiding a whopping commission in the fine print. Of course, that depends on how much you change. Yes, this is going to involve doing the math on a foreign street corner in two currencies.
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