Most likely you’ve seen and probably exchanged money at a currency exchange booth while traveling. Unfortunately, scams which shortchange travelers using money changing services seem to be on the increase. From the moment you step off the airplane into an airport and walk down to baggage claim, as well as around any popular tourist destination, you’ll see money changing booths. The following are the top tips to keep in mind if you think you may need to exchange currency at one of these booths.
In the most North American and European countries and Australia, currency exchange businesses are licensed. But this is not always the case. In some in all countries as anyone can set themselves up as a currency exchange business.
To start off with, let’s take it for granted that you’re aware that “generally speaking” most money exchanges booths don’t give the best exchange rate and that typically the best places to exchange money is at a bank or a recognized brand-name exchange bureau.
1) ATMs usually give better rates than exchanging cash at an exchange kiosk. If you can use ATMs. More and more travelers use ATMs as much as possible, keeping spare cash for emergencies or times when you just need a small about of local currency.
2) Hotels are usually safe locations too, but their exchange rates are often poor. Many credit cards offer a better exchange rate than an exchange booth, so if yours does use it to purchase, and your purchase will be protected too.
3) Advice if you are going to have to use a currency exchange booth. Keep in mind that any currency exchange businesses with a sign that says “Exchange! Cambio! Wechsel! Change!” are exchange booths, and all of them—from internationally well-known currency exchange offices, all the way down to the shady guy who hangs around the bus station—offer a worse rate and/or higher commission than banks and should only be used in emergencies.
4) Use authorized money changers only, not those down back alleys offering a better rate. Be careful of shops that claim to be ‘official exchange shops’ via a sign. Don’t necessarily believe those signs! Check out the shop to determine if it really is an official shop or not. Official exchange shops are located on major streets, in shopping malls, stations, and airports. They also usually look ‘official’ – clean and modern with a list of exchange rates displayed on the wall or even a digital signboard. These type of exchange services, could use counterfeit money, try to run a quick change scam on you, or charge an absorbent unpublished fee.
5) What about the condition of the money I’m going to try to exchange – does it matter? Some countries or currency exchange booths only accept bills that are in excellent condition- no rips, taping, holes, ink. Be sure to get new clean bills from a bank in your home country before leaving on your trip.
6) Don’t always trust the calculator being used by the employee behind the window of the currency exchange booth! When you watch the below video, you will see how easy it is to scam an unsuspecting traveler who exchanges currency at a dishonest currency exchange booth, or maybe it’s just the employee who’s dishonest. Either way, the below currency exchange video shows just how easy it is to rip you off. After watching the video, you will see how important it is for you to use your own calculator or cell phone app to figure out the exchange rate.