Currency Exchange Exposed: How Not to Lose Money When Swapping Cash

Currency Exchange Exposed: How Not to Lose Money When Swapping Cash
Vanesa Lucero
Vanesa Lucero
September 17th 2023

Hello, fellow globetrotters!

Ever found yourself grinning ear to ear, clutching a handful of exotic currency, only to later realize you’ve paid way more than you should’ve? Well, you’re not alone. The world of currency exchange is a tricky one, but don’t fret – I’m here to spill the beans on how to get the most bang for your buck, or yen, or euro, or… you get the idea!

1. Avoid Airport Currency Exchange Counters

Why: Airports might be convenient, but they rarely offer the best rates. These counters bank (pun intended) on last-minute travelers and usually offer less favorable rates.

Tip: Get a small amount for immediate expenses if necessary and change the bulk of your money elsewhere.

2. Know the Real Rate

Why: The more you’re informed, the less likely you are to get ripped off.

Tip: Before exchanging any money, check the interbank exchange rate – the rate at which banks swap currencies. Apps like XE Currency or websites like OANDA give real-time updates.

3. Use ATMs Wisely

Why: ATMs can be your best friend or your worst enemy.

Tip: Always choose to be charged in the local currency when withdrawing money. And be wary of third-party ATMs or those outside of reputable banks—they can carry heftier fees.

4. Be Wary of “No Commission” Claims

Why: No commission often means they’ve bundled their profit into a poor exchange rate.

Tip: Always ask how much local currency you’ll receive for a set amount of your home currency. Compare this to the interbank rate to see if it’s a good deal.

5. Credit Cards for the Win (But Be Careful!)

Why: Credit cards often offer competitive exchange rates.

Tip: Before traveling, check if your card charges foreign transaction fees. If it does, it might be worth getting a travel-specific credit card that waives such fees.

6. Online Money Exchange Platforms

Why: Online platforms often provide better rates than physical exchange counters.

Tip: Websites like TransferWise (now known as Wise) allow you to exchange money at real-time rates. Consider these, especially for larger amounts.

7. Consider Prepaid Travel Cards

Why: Lock in an exchange rate and avoid carrying large amounts of cash.

Tip: Compare the rates of different travel cards. Some come with perks like free ATM withdrawals abroad.

8. Never Exchange at Hotels or Tourist Spots

Why: Like airports, these places know they have a captive audience and their rates reflect that.

Tip: Always head to a city center or local bank for more competitive rates.

9. Hold onto Some Currency for Next Time

Why: If you travel frequently, it’s handy to have a starter pack of currency for your next trip.

Tip: Store small denominations in a travel wallet so you’re ready to hit the ground running (or at least buy a coffee) on your next adventure.

10. Avoid Dynamic Currency Conversion

Why: This is where you’re given the “choice” to be charged in your home currency while abroad. It’s notorious for being a bad deal.

Tip: Always choose the local currency, whether you’re shopping, dining out, or withdrawing from an ATM.


Currency exchange might feel like navigating a financial maze, but with a sprinkle of preparation and a dash of insider know-how, you can make sure your hard-earned cash travels as far as you do.

Here’s to more money for souvenirs, experiences, and memories!

Safe travels, and may your wallet stay pleasantly plump!

Vanesa Lucero
Vanesa Lucero
Hey there, fellow adventurers! I'm Vanesa, your enthusiastic explorer and storyteller extraordinaire. Join me as we uncover hidden treasures, immerse ourselves in vibrant cultures, and embark on wild adventures across the globe. Let's conquer bucket lists, embrace the unknown, and make unforgettable memories together. Welcome to my travel wonderland!