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How to Exchange Currency and Not Lose too Much Money

dollar notes
Written by Daniella

Most of the time when you travel, you have to exchange currency, because it is always handy to have at least a little locally used cash in your pocket upon arrival.

So you need to exchange currency when you go to a country that uses a different type of money than the country you come from.

This article by ShBarcelona will provide you with a few tips on how not to lose too much money in the process of exchanging money. You would rather spend as much as you can on your holiday, no?

Related article: How Does Tax Free Shopping Work?

Don’t lose money when exchanging currency

When travelling to another country with a different currency, you don’t always know what is the best place to exchange your money. You obviously don’t want to pay too much for the exchange service itself.

euro notes

Photo via Pixabay

Before we give you some tips on the best places to do so, we will explain a few basics on the exchange of money, just so you understand the process. The exchange rate tells you what a currency is worth, and how much you can get for the amount of money you would like to exchange.

Always bear in mind that an exchange rate is not a fixed rate, it changes constantly. Be sure the location you go to offers a rate that is closest to the market exchange rate. Besides the rate, you need to pay commission on the exchange. This is a factor that you should not forget, because commission percentages can vary greatly.

Many people make the same error of thinking you only need to consider the exchange rate. Having to pay for the commission then is a huge disappointment. The commission can consist of a fixed rate for the exchange service itself, but it can also be a percentage of the amount you want exchanged.

Sometimes both a fixed fee and variable rate apply. As the price you pay for a currency depends on the day you want it exchanged, you could lose money when you return from your travels. It might be better to hold on to the foreign money and wait until the currency rate has recovered.

Related article: What To Do If I Want To Move Abroad

Don’t spend it all just because you think it will be worth nothing when you get back. You can exchange it back to your own currency later. Another important fact is that online currency converters show you the market price of a currency, not the one you get as an end user.

different coins

Photo via Pixabay

Other tips on exchanging currency are:

  • Avoid having to exchange money at the airport, unless you see no other option. It is usually more expensive, because you are paying airport fees and commissions.
  • Visiting a currency exchange office in the centre of a big tourist city means you will be charged a commission, and although this commission is less than at the airport, expect to pay between 2 and 7% on your amount.
  • Also bear in mind that no exchange office will clearly state the commission. You always pay extra for the service, and commissions are not in the exchange rate.
  • Withdrawing money with your debit or credit card at an ATM at your destination will not save you money. Fees applied by foreign banks for withdrawing money are quite high.

Any bank can exchange money, but going to your trusted, local bank is probably most comfortable. Having been a client there for a while may be your best option.

Do you have other advice on how to save money when exchanging currency?

About the author


Daniella enjoys everything the city of Barcelona has to offer. She writes, translates and loves discovering Catalonia and its beautiful nature.

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