Travel money

Discussion in 'Your Questions' started by arun, Jan 13, 2004.

  1. arun

    arun Member

    Sep 5, 2002
    311
    0
    Sydney
    Has anyone compared the value of exchanging A$ to foreign currency for travel in the following instances:

    1. Exchanging in a bank
    2. Exchanging at Travelex
    3. Australian airport money changers' counters
    4. Foreign money changers counters
    5. Foreign banks over the counter exchange
    6. Foreign ATMs
    7. Using credit card to pay
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    I will try to look through my records and get some info on this from my recent trip. But your opinions are welcome.
     
  2. straitman

    Moderator

    Apr 27, 2003
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    No.

    Other than the fact that they ALL seem to rip you off :!:

    I look forward to your information. I have been thinking of the best way to work through this.
     
  3. arun

    arun Member

    Sep 5, 2002
    311
    0
    Sydney
    I checked my transactions:

    1. Exchange rates displayed at the Sydney Airport money changer counter
    1A$ = 1.23 SIN$ (I am not sure of any extra fees)
    2. Altitude credit card 1 A$ = 1.235 SIN$
    3. Westpac ATM card 1 A$ = 1.25 SIN $ (PLUS 5A$ transaction fee!!!).

    It looks like the ATM is a rip off!
    I should have checked the money changer at Singapore as well. But did not!
     
  4. HardieBoys

    HardieBoys Member

    Sep 28, 2003
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    Most cards (debit and credit) charge a percentage conversion fee, though ATM cards may also charge a flat fee for international access to your account. Further, the financial institution may charge for withdrawals from a particular account (regardless of where the withdrawal occurs). Some banks, such as Westpac, have fee-free withdrawals at selected ATMs overseas. In Westpac's case, cardholders can withdraw from Bank of America (US) and Scotiabank (Mexico). ATM and credit card withdrawals are calculated using a different set of exchange rates compared to bureau de change.
     
  5. sully

    sully Member

    Jul 31, 2003
    238
    1
    Wolloomooloo, NSW
    Arun, the transaction fee via the ATM route becomes the better option when you exchange more than $250 (based on your example). I have a Visa debit card with St George bank and have found that when I withdraw from foreign banks, normally on arrival, that by selecting the credit option I generally pay no fees at all.

    Perhaps a characteristic of this type of card perhaps, but nevertheless a good alternative.
     
  6. arun

    arun Member

    Sep 5, 2002
    311
    0
    Sydney
    Sully, That is indeed a good point. The difference of 2 cents per dollar becomes more valuable when you cross $250 limit even in this case. Thanks for that.
    But for short trips I might now stick with my credit card as it is more convenient and of course I get points.
     
  7. QF WP

    Moderator

    Jun 20, 2002
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    I tend you use Travelex exclusively, as I tend to exchange between $250-$500AUD (for cash purposes on a trip), then put the rest on my CC's.

    $0.005 better in exchange transactions is simply not worth the time in researching all the options (to me, anyway - to others it might seem a lot). The convenience of being able to order online then pick up from the airport Travelex is the best part.
     
  8. drron

    drron Enthusiast

    Jul 4, 2002
    15,441
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    Sunshine Coast
    The best place to change money is abank-lower commission than travelex,thomas cook etc.
    Problem not all branches will have foreign currency and sometimes the staff cant be bothered trying to help.
    I am lucky to have probably the best CBA branch in QLD at Mooloolaba which is obviously because they have a great manager.However Mooloolaba also get a lot of overseas tourists so often have foreign currency
    If going to the states however,why not travellers cheques, If aCBA gold card holder then commission free and I have never had a problem cashing them in stores or restaurants.
    In Asia though I usually change money locally as rates better but make sure you count it in front of money changer as they often cant count!In bangkok you get a better rate for travellers cheques than cash so I get my commission free cheques in aussie dollars and change them there.
    Experience is the best teacher.
     
  9. sully

    sully Member

    Jul 31, 2003
    238
    1
    Wolloomooloo, NSW
    I have just tried to exchange AUD600 for USD for use in some parts of Asia where the greenback is king.

    First off the OANDA rate is .7742 or $464.53, but of course that is the unachievable goal as it equates to the spot rate. NAB quoted me .7677 with a $7 fee, resulting in an effective rate of .7588 ($455.28). ANZ offered .7624 with the same fee ($452.16) but the big surprise was Travelex. This one is a rip off. They want to give me .7379 with a $12 commission. This equates to a rate of .7234 or $434.06!!!!!

    Caveat Emptor colleagues. It seems the banks are the better option even though you are hit with a transaction fee.
     
  10. arun

    arun Member

    Sep 5, 2002
    311
    0
    Sydney
    Thank you very much. That's a good comparison.
    Anyone with experiences of money changers abroad. My experience is changing in the hotel desk is a real rip off and you get better rates at money changers on the street. But I have not compared the money changers on the street with ATMS or Banks.
     
  11. redrat

    redrat Member

    Apr 26, 2003
    224
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    Vic
    There is only one reason that I would change money at the hotel desk and that is to set the exchange rate for my expense report :D
    Other than that the exchange rate they offer is obscene in the extreme. :evil:
     
  12. kristo

    kristo Intern

    Feb 23, 2003
    61
    0
    I recently did this comparison for a trip to NZ.
    Using a credit card gave the best rate.
    Changing CASH at a bank is next best.
    Travelex has a rip off rate some 5 to 10 % less than a major bank.
     
  13. Rick93

    Rick93 Established Member

    Nov 10, 2002
    1,111
    80
    I once exchanged currency at a hotel front desk in Manila.
    They charged 10% commission.
    Might seem hefty, but when you think of the exchange rate with the Philipines..... it worked out to be just a few $AU. for the conveniance. I really didn't want to risk putting my credit card into one of their ATMs! ("swallowed credit card sir.... sorry, what credit card - we don't seem to have such a credit card sir!")

    Ah, well....
     
  14. sully

    sully Member

    Jul 31, 2003
    238
    1
    Wolloomooloo, NSW
    Gordon, you simply need to exercise a degree of common sense. I am in Manila now and used the ATM of HSBC at a place where they actually have an office. The combination of an international bank and someone to help you if there is a problem means that it is relatively risk free to do this.

    Also, as a follow on to my quest for USD, I managed to change AUD1,000 at the Commonwealth bank at a rate of .748 (1002.5 for 750). St George wanted $998.50 for USD743 (.744) and laughably American Express were going to give me USD740 for $1020 (.725). A significan difference I believe.

    Moral of the story, shop around the banks.
     
  15. Rick93

    Rick93 Established Member

    Nov 10, 2002
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    Sully,
    I guess I should have added... I wasn't staying in the 'best part of town'. I spent my time in the outer lying communities, or if you like, the 'poorer' towns of Manila. Places where I wouldn't even want to hand my credit card to anyone. I'm sure you know what I mean....

    regards,
     
  16. sully

    sully Member

    Jul 31, 2003
    238
    1
    Wolloomooloo, NSW
    Aaah, very different then. I am in Pasig amongst all the trendy shops etc etc. My 2 minute walk from the hotel to office has more security guards than potential villains.

    People here tell me that you can use the ATMs at the airport without too much difficulty though.
     
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