Vacations are not cheap, and some of you save for months so that your time can be spent relaxing (not worrying about spending those extra dollars). But dealing with foreign currency exchange can hit you a bit hard when you get off that plane, especially if you’ve already budgeted out your vacation.
With ATMs and currency converters charging you crazy fees that sometimes can confuse you, no wonder some of us get ripped off when we hand over our dollar bills. However, there are a few tricks that will help you avoid being duped, allowing you to keep your vacation budget (and head) intact. 😉
The Airport Exchange
Don’t be fooled by the “zero percent commission” advertised by airport currency exchange kiosks. According to Jesner, the CEO of WeSwap, a currency exchange service, the exchange rate at those airport kiosks will be raised—also known as the “interbank rate”. This is where they get you because you end up paying way more than what the standard exchange rate is at the time.
So why do airport bureaus charge a higher rate? Jesner explains that “bureaus at the airport have high overheads and fixed costs they need to cover, including staff and premises. And, they know that they’ve got a captive market at the airport, so they can get away with charging more.”
So before you reach for your next hundred dollar bills, calculate the conversion first to see what you’re actually getting.
There are many of us that go straight to the foreign ATM right after we get off the plane, which can cause a significant dent in our budget. “Bank card charges can vary hugely and you’ll usually get charged a percentage for spending abroad plus a fixed fee for withdrawing from an ATM on top of that. If you’re not careful it’s all too easy to end up with shocks on your statement when you get home,” says Jesner.
The same goes with using your card at places where they give you an option to pay with the local currency or the currency from your home country—it’s best to pay in the local currency. These companies “apply their own worse exchange rate and it’s never a good deal,” explains Jesner.
Of course, it’s a no-brainer that you should always bring cash that you withdrew from your own bank or ATM before you went abroad. Jesner recommends you “get the best rate possible by comparing online and swapping ahead of time to avoid last-minute price-hikes”.