General Question

bookish1's avatar

Where is the least-worst place to change currency?

Asked by bookish1 (13069 points ) July 25th, 2012

So, I’m trying not to think about it, but I’ll be leaving France in a few weeks. I am the epitome of the starving grad student right now, but I’ll be getting a fat wad of Euros back (my security deposit) before I leave.

Where is the best place to change this money? At the French airport, in an American airport, or at my bank back home? I know they will all take some fees out, but I’m hoping to hold on to as much of that money as I can because it’s all I’ll have for the next month…

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14 Answers

YARNLADY's avatar

Your bank at home will have the best rates.

WestRiverrat's avatar

Your home bank would give you the best rates.
The worst rates will be at the airports, either coming or going.

bookish1's avatar

@YARNLADY & @WestRiverrat : Thank you both. That’s what I was suspecting, but I just wasn’t sure!

poisonedantidote's avatar

How it works in Spain, from best to worse:

- Cash exchange place (zero fee)
– Post office
– Airport
– Bank

susanc's avatar

@poisonedantidote: “cash exchange place”? what is that? I must learn this in case I ever go anywhere.

marmoset's avatar

Susanc, there are small specialized cash-exchange businesses in every major city and every international airport. They are for convenience more than anything (it is almost unheard of that they would give a better deal than a bank in your home country). Side note if you travel outside western europe: you also have to make sure your currency will be exchangeable back at home. I’m American and I visited an eastern European country. I found there was literally no place in the U.S. that would exchange its currency at any rate.

creative1's avatar

The best way I found is belonging to a bank that was part of the Global Alliance and I just would go to the country with my ATM card and look for a bank that participates in it. The global alliance allows you to take atm withdrawals in that country at no service fee. You are then giving the best rate of exchange. I know when I was in Paris BNP Paribas was the bank I was able to use so if you have your account there they should have a list of banks in the different countries that you can use their ATM’s without additional charge and get the best rate of exchange for that day.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

In a small building guarded by men with guns. I did that in college. I didn’t know what was up at first, only that we were getting a lot more than the official exchange rate.

elbanditoroso's avatar

An ATM. Much better rates than at the staffed money exchange places.

poisonedantidote's avatar

@susanc They are shops we have on the island of Mallorca, it is just a desk and they do currency exchange, they cash travelers checks, and some times also organize excursions or days out.

Usually they have a sign saying “Exchange – Change” in 3 or 4 languages, and a board outside showing all the currencies and their current value. You can find them all over this island, as well as other areas in Spain. Also jewelery shops tend to also offer this service in this area, they take your Pounds Euros or Dollars and exchange them for an equivalent amount of some other currency, free of charge.

I believe they then profit by changing up bulk amounts some other place at convenient times. But I could be wrong on that.

bookish1's avatar

@creative1 & @elbanditoroso: Thanks for the tip, I’ve been using only BNP cash points the whole time I’ve been here. But I’m going to need to change a bunch of Euros in bills into dollars in bills, which is why I was asking about currency exchange places.

creative1's avatar

I would check at BNP since they are part of the global alliance if they are able to give you a cashier’s check in American dollars that way you wouldn’t have to pay an exchange rate when you come it would already be converted

RocketGuy's avatar

If you pull money from your US account out of a local ATM, you get your bank’s best rate + fee, which is usually better than bringing USD to a local bank and exchanging for local currency.

bookish1's avatar

@RocketGuy: I don’t have any money in my U.S. account! I’m getting a fist full of Euros in cash before I leave.

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