Currency exchange tips

I was – naively – of the view that in Europe we would be using the Euro as our main form of currency. Already we have noticed that while the Euro is able to be used pretty much anywhere, it holds a similar status to the US Dollar – in that it is accepted, however the “exchange rate” when using the Euro versus the local currency does not make our AUD go as far as we would like.xrates-500x314

On this basis, we are making the call to use local currency when available, however this does lend itself to the issue of how to obtain multiple currencies, in far smaller parcels, without loosing out on each exchange.

We have assessed that we will be using at least 4 different currencies during our 60 days, being:

  • Qatari Rial – QAR
  • Hungarian Forint – HUF
  • Polish Zloty – PLN
  • Euro – EUR

This represents four different potential fees and rates – and opportunities to loose money.

There are a number of very useful blogs/articles out there weighing up best way to exchange currencies both via physical picking up from a booth through to using a card.

There were two articles that provided the best information to help me assess how we were going to do this. The first was an article on Fodors Travel written in 2014 that provided 10 simple tips for exchanging your money abroad. (I certainly will never select my home currency when offered the opportunity at Point of Sale aka dynamic currency!). The tips are not location specific and provide a solid base on which to decide how to exchange currency in certain situations.

The second article is an Australian article from 2010, however on further research the information appears to still be relevant. The Australian Business Traveller site provides excellent information relating to best ways to exchange currency via an outlet and also using prepaid/debit/credit cards. Main tip I got from this is if you want to exchange prior to travelling,  you save significantly if you use American Express Foreign Exchange or Travelex AS LONG AS YOU PRE-PURCHASE on line.

Below are some comparisons I ran to get an idea on difference between purchasing online via the AMEX Foreign Exchange outlet, or via ATM when we arrive.

AUD to Qatari Rial 

We only require a few hundred dollars worth, as we are only there for 3 days. The rate provided by Visa through the ATM essentially “saves” me around $42 AUD, or gives me 105 more Rial for my $400.
qarOf note: The AMEX exchange is accurate, however there is a minimum AUD requirement of $500, so we would need to pay for more if we wanted to use this option.

AUD to Euro

Every day I am hearing more horror stories of friends of friends who have been robbed/pick pocketed whilst over in Europe (especially in Spain), so we definitely want to carry an appropriate amount of Euros to give us freedom, but not so much that our holiday is ruined if the unfortunate should happen. Therefore I am thinking we will do smaller parcels than the $500 shown below, but I wanted to provide a reasonable understanding of the difference between the two.

The rate provided by Visa through the ATM essentially “saves” me around $20 AUD, and still gives me 7 more Euro for my $500.eur

The decision we have reached is that we will be looking to do ATM withdrawals using our ING debit card. ING do not charge any fees or added bank rates for the use of the card internationally, with the exchange rate being what is published by  Visa at that point in time.


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