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How to get the best foreign exchange rate in Canberra?

By stewburt - 6 June 2011 18

I’m travelling to Spain in July and need to take some Euros in cash.

Can anyone advise how to get the most Euros for my dollars?

Maybe one of the banks in Canberra has a reputation for being more generous than the others?

Or are there services where you can order online?

Thanks…Stewart

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18 Responses to
How to get the best foreign exchange rate in Canberra?
Watson 1:49 pm 06 Jun 11

I use my Visa debit overseas. There is no way I would want to travel with that much cash on me. I had bad experiences in Barcelone with pick pockets (that was on my first overseas trip alone with a friend when I was 20 – made me street smart quicksmart!) and when I was overseas last April, my mother’s wallet got stolen from her handbag in a shopping street in Antwerp. And she’s a local…

I never even checked the fees my bank charged for my overseas transactions, but whatever it was, it was worth it for my peace of mind. Not all ATMs overseas were willing to give me cash out and I couldn’t use EFTPOS in shops, but I could pay anywhere with Visa.

Skidbladnir 1:44 pm 06 Jun 11

One other bonus for me was getting the Visa exchange rate, not the NAB one, which was a few cents apart (in my favor).
Unsure if that is still policy, though…

Skidbladnir 1:26 pm 06 Jun 11

Take some AUD with you, you’ll be needing airport cash anyway.

If you’re normally below their funds deposit threshold for a Gold transaction account, its $10/month .
One of the good features is free overseas withdrawal on atms that are part of the PLUS network but rival networks will hit you with fees for use, and no % commission for currency conversion.
In addition to getting Visa Zero Liability for being their branded card and being able to charge to it as if it were credit card (so long as you have funds), it comes with bonus travel insurance if you read fine print.
It also quickly gets replaced, even in Cambodia… 😐

Upgrade before you leave, downgrade when you get back, and carry as minimal cash as possible.
(Just watch out for gypsies when you’re carrying cash.)

junketFunket 1:22 pm 06 Jun 11

All Australian banks are notorious for ripping off consumers when it comes to retail currency exchange. Most banks charge around 4-5% margin on the real Forex exchange rate.

For example, today’s exchange rate is AUD$1 to USD$1.0748. But ANZ (http://www.anz.com/aus/RateFee/fxrates/fxpopup.asp) will give you USD $1.0341. That’s 4c for every dollar. Doesn’t sound like much, but you go on a vacation and spend $10,000 and that’s $400. That’s not including all of the other banks and ATM charges that you will need to spend.

I recommend getting the 28degrees card (28degreescard.com.au). It’s a credit card with no annual fee, I’ve used it to buy online and their exchange rate is pretty close to the Forex exchange rate. Plus they don’t charge ATM fees and all of that stuff.

It’s a credit card so you have to pay interest on it. The trick though is either to pay it back straight away or to just credit your card with thousands of dollars before you leave and then the card just becomes a debit card.

It’s awesome, I thoroughly recommend it.

JC 12:53 pm 06 Jun 11

Classified said :

Use ATMs when you get there – the exchange rate will be better, and often you won’t even get charged a fee. I get foreign currency when traveling to the US, but use ATMs when I arrive for Europe and Asia.

Which bank are you with? Never heard of any in Australia not charging a fee. Normally it is a minimum of $4 plus 1-2% foreign currency transaction. But do agree with the sentiment that ATM’s are a lot cheaper than taking cash from home. As others have said use local exchange places to get a few hundred dollars worth of local and then ATM the rest.

LegalNut 12:28 pm 06 Jun 11

I never carry cash with me when travelling overseas unless it is to a country without good ATM facilities.

I use the NAB Gold Visa Debit card. The account fee is $10 a month but it is waived if you deposit more than $5000 a month into your account (this can be as simple as transfering the money into your account one day and back out the next).

The NAB Gold Visa Debit card has a 0% margin on foreign exchange and no overseas ATM fees. There is also no foreign transaction fee.

I have recently done some USD transactions on the card and the rate I have recevied has been pretty much spot on with what xe.com tells me the mid-market rate is. The only downside is the lack of an ability to earn frequent flyer points like I would with my credit card.

Sheridan 12:04 pm 06 Jun 11

Be sure to check your travel insurance policy too. My policy only covers loss/theft of the equivalent of $200 AUD in cash on your person.

So if you have more or if you leave it in the hotel and it gets nicked or you loose your wallet, the excess above $200 is not covered.

I would buy a bit of local currency, probably from the post office. They have a calculator so you can get an idea of the rates etc

http://auspost.com.au/apps/currency-converter.html

I would also be checking your debit cards/credit cards for their policies on withdrawals and FX transactions.

I was surprised how expensive the transactions are.

My bankwest mastercard debit charges 2.95% FX fee and $5 charge for using an overseas ATM; and that’s in addition to any local ATM usage fees. Same for my CBA debit card.
My Westpac mastercard charges 3% FX fee as well.

Pretty hefty when you consider how much everything is going to cost…

johnboy 11:39 am 06 Jun 11

In my experience it’s a good idea to have a couple of hundred in the local currency before you leave.

ATMs can do strange things to strange cards and you might need to wait a few days to sort it out.

But after that get your local currency locally.

jessieduck 11:38 am 06 Jun 11

Get cash out at ATMs when you’re there but make it worth the transaction fee by getting as much out as possible- then stash some in your shoe, some in your bra (if you wear one), some in the bottom of your bag etc and just keep the day’s budget in your wallet. That way if you loose your wallet you only loose one day’s spending money.

Hot tip- do not hide the money in plain view of everyone around you or fuss around with a money belt in public… nothing like an easy target!

Mysteryman 11:31 am 06 Jun 11

I found the American Express located inside Wespac on City Walk to be the best place to exchange currency.

I toyed with the idea of taking a “currency card” from my bank but some countries have very limited ATM access and I didn’t want to take the chance. Spending money was cash, and anything that could be paid for with credit card (like accommodation), was.

finny 11:30 am 06 Jun 11

when i went over to europe last year i found that getting euros from Australia Post was the best. From what i can recall they didn’t charge any commission and the rates were as good if not better than the banks. The only issue was that they have to get it in specifically for you. I think if you do it before 11 am or something they will have it in the next day.
Hope that helps

Classified 11:29 am 06 Jun 11

Use ATMs when you get there – the exchange rate will be better, and often you won’t even get charged a fee. I get foreign currency when traveling to the US, but use ATMs when I arrive for Europe and Asia.

harvyk1 11:17 am 06 Jun 11

I usually pre-order my cash via travelex and pick it up from the airport (I usually arrange it for pick up at Sydney Airport) when I fly out… It’s often been a better rate than any store has been able to arrange.

I’ve used comm back in the city a few times and they are alright as well… (also pre-purchased a travel money card which was good)…

Word of warning, don’t use the comm-banks pre-order service… Used it once and got NZ$700 all in 10’s and 20’s, needless to say I wasn’t happy and it took quite a few phones calls to convince them to swap it over into something a bit more reasonable.

fmd 11:12 am 06 Jun 11

Take some Australian dollars cash as back up, but use an NAB Gold Visa debit to withdraw from ATMs. WIll beat any foreign exchange rate obtained in Australia.

dungfungus 11:11 am 06 Jun 11

You will have to go to the “main branch” of your favourite bank in Civic to get instant cash.
St George in City Walk give good service and their commission rate is probably the same as everywhere else. Don’t get denominations above 100 as there are a lot of counterfeit 500 euro bills circulating in Spain and no one will accept them. Spain is a great destination for a tourist but prepare for confusion at the airports and metro. Also, watch out for pickpockets in Madrid. Carry all your cash concealed etc. at all times – don’t leave anything in your hotel room unattended.

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