- Do not change currency at the airport.
If you are traveling to another country, it is always recommended to not change your currency at the airport. Generally, these places charge higher transaction charges and don’t give you the current exchange rate. If you have to change currency at the airport, make sure you keep it to the bare minimum, enough maybe to cover your taxi fare or a cup of coffee.I recommend using a currency exchange trader. In these parts of the world (Asia and Middle East), I have used UAEXchange and they did give me a fair deal.
- Check online for current rates.
This should give you your starting point. I use x-rates.com or oanda.com. Oanda.com has a good feature where you can get exchange rates for any particular day of the year. They also claim support for 164 currencies.
- Check multiple currency traders/banks.
Don’t believe the first trader you meet. If you have the time, get a couple of rates from different traders or banks. You should be able to know what is a good rate after your second or third trader or bank. This will also help you understand who has the lowest transaction charges. There are traders who do not charge any transaction charge. I think it depends on the country you are visiting.
- Ask for recommendations.
Recommendations are always a good thing. If you know anyone who has lived in that city for a while, they would be the best person to ask. You could also ask the hotel staff (they would generally recommend the hotel services), cab driver, cafe waiter etc. Warning: Don’t make it too obvious that you have a lot of money to be changed. You could get mugged, depending on where you are.
Yes, you read that right. Always ask for a better price. The traders are never giving you their best price. So asking for a better deal is not a cheap thing to do.
Region-Specific Tip: If you are traveling to the Middle East and if you are carrying dollars, remember that the dollar has a fixed exchange rate. This is because the dirham (UAE currency) or any other Middle East currency (e.g. Saudi Riyal, Qatari Riyal etc.) is pegged to the US Dollar, which means that there is very little change in the exchange rate.
Do you have any tips? Share them here.