I always knew currency exchange at the airport was a bad deal, but I never really calculated it out -- I just tried to avoid it.
I was passing through Haneda airport last night, and had a stack of Chinese RMB I wanted to sell to get Japanese Yen.
The rate was 15% lower than the market rate. That's just one way. The selling Yen / buying RMB rate was similarly crazy.
To exchange $650 of RMB for Yen would have cost over $90.
That's nuts. You can get 1% or 2% at banks sometimes. A credit card with no foreign exchange fee (all Capital one cards, high-end Visa Signatures and AMEX cards) means you're getting 1% or 2% off the market rate. Worst-case scenario, you can et 5% pretty easily.
15%? It's nuts. Never ever change money at the airport if you can help it. You probably knew that, but it might even he worse than you thought it was.
What a fascinating trip. I just did this route -
Beijing -> Erlianhaote -> Zamyn Uud -> Ulan Bator
Why do I choose such circuitous, crazy routes? Well, lots of reasons.
I want to understand as much as I can about the world, and taking out of the way routes - especially through important border towns - teaches a lot.
Often, you can manage a route like this in a way that's much less expensive than direct flights. Yes, time is money, but money is also money.
It’s vacation time! Your plane tickets have been purchased, bags packed and the camera fully charged. There’s just one thing left to handle before you embark on your adventure…money. Figuring out how to get and spend money when it’s in U.S. dollars is easy, but figuring out money issues in a foreign country can be a challenge even for experienced travelers. Here are a few dos and don’ts to make exchanging foreign currency as simple as 1, 2, 3!
Do: Know The Country’s Currency And Exchange Rate
Sometimes we get so caught up in the excitement of planning that we forget about what we’ll need when we get there. Make sure you know the local currency for the country you’ll be visiting and check the exchange rates before you go. Checking out sites like xe.com will help you find the most accurate foreign exchange rates around and give you an idea of how much or how little spending money you will need in order to plan better and avoid over spending.
Knowing a country’s currency and exchange rate is also good during the planning stages of a trip and can help you decide which countries will give you the most bang for your travel buck. For example, Europe is an extremely popular travel destination, but the exchange rate for most countries, especially those using Euros, is not budget friendly. One U.S. dollar equals 0.752688 Euros which means you actually lose money in the conversion. In contrast, Asian countries like Japan or Thailand give you more for the U.S. dollar with one dollar equaling 82.8929 Yen and 30.8189 Baht, respectively.
Don’t: Use Currency Exchange Companies