Let’s be honest, most of us forget about organising our foreign exchange until the last minute – it’s usually one of the last things we do, in between getting travel insurance and packing our bags. But this could cost you in the long run, because if you have to arrange your foreign currency at the last minute, you’re pretty much stuck with the exchange rate available then and there, at the place that a) is still open and b) has the currency you need.
Here are a few things you can do to ensure you are getting a great exchange rate for travel:
This is where you need a bit of time up your sleeve. Just as you took the time to research the best airfare deal for your trip, so you can research where you can find the best exchange rate for your foreign currency. You’re probably aware that exchange rates change from day to day, so it’s not a guarantee that a great rate you see one day will still be available the next. Savvy travellers can keep an eye on the morning news for updates on market movements (but keep in mind, the rate on the news is often not the rate available to the public), or you can check out historical rate charts to see if the currency you need has been in an upward or downward trend lately (FYI: this does not mean that the currency will keep going on this trend – sorry, it’s not as predictable as that!).
Another easy way to keep an eye on the rates is simply to have the relevant information emailed to you – sign up for a currency alert where you can choose the currency(s) and your desired exchange rate, and once your target currency hits your target exchange rate, we’ll send you an email to let you know! You can also print out our handy Budget Planner.
You can do some online comparisons to check who offers the best rate in travel money, and also go into or call around the banks and foreign exchange businesses and ask for their rate available on the day. Remember to ask for the total rate you will be charged, and not just the exchange rate. Many foreign currency retailers including banks just display their rate of exchange, and then when you pay for your foreign currency, they add on a commission or service fee, so you land up paying more than you thought.
So when you shop around, make sure you compare apples with apples – total exchange rate versus total exchange rate including any fees. At Travel Money Oz, there are no fees or commissions charged on cash or EFTPOS foreign exchange transactions, so the rate on the board is the rate you will get.
One of the easiest ways to get a great exchange rate on your travel money is to avoid exchanging your money at the airport before you go or when you land. But yes, this does mean you need to be a little bit organised and arrange your currency exchange in advance and not leave it to the last minute as you’re about to leave.
If you exchange your foreign currency at the airport, you pay for that convenience by the way of not-great-exchange-rates and high service fees.
One of the benefits of using a pre-paid travel money card like Key to the Word, is you have the ability to lock in that day’s exchange rate, when you load your card*. For example, you may see a favourable USD exchange rate - if you load your USD onto your card on that day, it saves that total amount for future spending. The opposite of this can be if you use a bank card overseas, the day you spend or withdraw money, you’ll be charged at that day’s rate. Topping up your pre-paid travel money card in advance of your holiday is a great way to manage the risk of rates going down.
While you are shopping around, if you do find an overall exchange price that is better than what you are offered at Travel Money Oz, we guarantee to beat that price. Some terms and conditions do apply to this, so check them out on our website.
It may be really easy and convenient to use your normal credit card while you’re travelling, but it’s also a great way to add extra fees on to your exchange. The credit card company is likely to charge you an international transaction fee for every purchase, as well as the exchange rate, and the local vendor may also charge you a fee.
It may also cost you money – from your financial institution and the local vendor – to withdraw cash from a foreign ATM. Before you decide to use your bank cards, just check what fees you may be charged overseas. There are lots of other options available to you and it’s easy to avoid these fees.
We order our pizzas, groceries and fashion products online, but many travellers are not aware they can also order their travel money online. You can often get a great exchange rate online, and you don’t even need to worry about when the shops will be open. Just order from the comfort of your home – and your order of USD, GBP or even exotic LKR (Sri Lankan Rupees) will be delivered safely to a store near you for pick up. When comparing rates online just make sure you aren’t charged any delivery fees for your order. At Travel Money Oz, you can pick your foreign currency up from any of our stores (3 to 5 business days after you place your order, so give yourself a few days) and you won’t be charged any delivery fees for your transaction. You can order your cash on our website from here. Go on, click on it. You know you want to!
Foreign currency can be confusing, and how you plan to spend the money is far more exciting to think about than actually organising your foreign money. But with a little bit of homework and forward-thinking, there are some pretty easy ways that you can aim to make sure you get the best exchange rate available at the time and have more money to spend on your holiday.
*Lock in your exchange rates mean the exchange rate is locked in for the initial load only. The exchange rates for subsequent reloads will be set at the prevailing exchange rate at the time of the transaction.
This blog is provided for information only and does not take into consideration your objectives, financial situation or needs. You should consider whether the information and suggestions contained in any blog entry are appropriate for you, having regard to your own objectives, financial situation and needs. While we take reasonable care in providing the blog, we give no warranties or representations that it is complete or accurate, or is appropriate for you. We are not liable for any loss caused, whether due to negligence or otherwise, arising from use of, or reliance on, the information and/or suggestions contained in this blog.