pre-order airport money exchange

Dec 4th, 2004, 04:08 PM
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pre-order airport money exchange

I've seen ads for money exchange at airports promising commission free and best rates. Does anyone have any experience with this? I'll be arriving Heathrow 1 day in advance of a tour, and want to do some sightseeing but am not sure best way to change $ into pounds.
lakebluffer is offline  
Dec 4th, 2004, 04:50 PM
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Don't bring cash. Just bring your ATM/Check/Debit card and get what cash you need from the ATM machines.
Robert2533 is offline  
Dec 4th, 2004, 05:01 PM
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I think the catch is what "best ratres" means - legally can have multiple definitions.

Think about it for a minute - if this were true - how would the company doing it be making any money? And, if they're not making any money - why would they do it - so it obviously isn't true - is it?

Simply bring your credit cards to charge as much as possible - and your ATM card for getting cash - and you will get better rates than any form of "exchange".
nytraveler is offline  
Dec 4th, 2004, 05:58 PM
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I agree with the other posters. Forget the airport money exchange. Use ATMs and credit cards.
HowardR is offline  
Dec 4th, 2004, 06:16 PM
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Maybe they have the best rates in the airport or within ten feet or something. Whether there is commission or not is kind of irrelevant, it's the bottom line of what you get for what you pay, which depends on the exchange rate they are giving. Some of those places say no commission which just means no flat fee, but it doesn't mean they aren't setting their exchange rate to make a profit. Think about it -- these are private businesses, do you think they are going to be running a booth at Heathrow out of charity?

Money exchange at Heathrow charged about 12-13 pct over interbank rate last time I was there. Not the worst I've heard of, but generally not good except to exchange a small amount of money, if you need to.
Christina is online now  
Dec 5th, 2004, 02:57 AM
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We usually get some local currency before we go anyplace outside US - just so we don't have to deal with it in commotion of arrival ($50-100 or so). Then everything else is from ATM or on credit cards. For that amount, any exchange rate difference does not really amount to much in actual money.

Easy to do at local bank - sometimes takes a day or 2 if it is unusual currency - but any US city should have a bank to do it on the spot. Exchange rates have always been competitive and if you are a customer, some banks do it without fee.
gail is online now  
Dec 5th, 2004, 03:04 AM
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Hi lake,

One more voice suggesting that you use your ATM card to get money after you get to London.

Some folks change about $100 at the departure airport and accept the small extra cost.
ira is online now  
Dec 5th, 2004, 04:42 AM
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Thx to all -- I will definitely use my atm card and pick up some pounds at my local bank before leaving. Appreciate all the help.
lakebluffer is offline  
Dec 5th, 2004, 05:01 AM
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Also check if your bank has a reciprocal agreement with the European banks for no fee transactions . Bank of America has agreements with Barclay's in the UK and BNP Parabis in France among other places no fees are charged for ATM withdrawals
jody is offline  
Dec 5th, 2004, 06:25 AM
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Since you are going on a tour, here is a partial excerpt of my "Tips for Motorcoach Tours" document. This was writen from the standpoint of a US tourist going to Italy, but it is usesful for GB and other places as well. If you want the entire document, just email me at [email protected].

Tip #11 - Money:

As of January 1, 2002, the Euro was phased in as the currency throughout much of Europe (the United Kingdom and Switzerland, among others, are notable exceptions). As of March 1, 2002, the old currencies, such as the Italian Lira, will not be accepted at all by shops and stores. Any old currency after that date will have to be taken to a bank to be converted

We sometimes bring along about $50 in cash, per person, per day, in the local currency (in this case, the Euro). For the two of us, that would be about $100 per day. Do not count the day of departure from the US or the day of departure from Italy (or Europe). Bring more if you plan on using your credit card less, as your larger purchases will probably be via credit card while there. How much you actually bring is entirely up to you.

In my view, the best thing to do is to get at least SOME of your currency before departure, rather than waiting until you get there. The easiest way is to just contact your bank and advise them of your need, and they will advise you as to their own procedure. Sometimes, banks will charge a "processing" fee of some kind. Mine does not.

The OFFICIAL exchange rate is the rate that banks charge each other (in other words, the wholesale price of buying currency). We never get as good as the official exchange rate, and the actual exchange rate can vary by bank. This is how the banks make a profit for the service when they do not charge a fee.

When in Italy, you will see the price of items marked, but they do it a bit differently in much of Europe than we do in the US....they use the comma when we use the period, and vice-versa. For example, something that costs €2,340.95 Euros will be marked as €2.340,95. Don't let that confuse you.

Credit cards are freely accepted in Italy (and Europe) just as they are here, except some smaller shops might not accept credit cards at all, sidewalk souvenir shops will usually not accept credit cards, the smallest purchases must be cash (just as here), meals at rest stops are usually cash, etc.

You will generally get the better exchange rates by using your ATM card and credit card, but NEVER count on an ATM machine to be handy just when you need it. BE PREPARED!!

Infotrack is offline  
Dec 5th, 2004, 08:36 AM
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The best article I've ever read on this matter: "everything you need to know about money and tourist ripoffs"

As best I can determine, you will likely spend an extra 20 dollars acquiring about $100 worth of foreign currency in the USA prior to the trip.
If you use an ATM upon arrival at the airport, you will likely spend an extra one or two dollars.
platzman is offline  
Dec 5th, 2004, 12:25 PM
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I also used to get a little money before leaving. It is worth a small loss to have some local currency in my pocket when I land.

But now am bringing money home with me to keep for the next trip. It is easier on both ends of the trip.

With the way the pound and euro are gaining ground against the dollar, I wish I had brought back a lot more.

Keith is offline  
Dec 5th, 2004, 01:12 PM
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checking out affiliated banks is a good idea since our son took out 500 euros from ATM and was charged 20 euros commission. ( no currency exchange invovled as he was drawing off a euro account).
lincasanova is offline  
Dec 5th, 2004, 03:00 PM
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To Keith - yes, we also have some foreign currency from past trips to use on later trips - but I am not sure if I will ever use the Egyptian pounds I just found in some photos from 3 years ago.
gail is online now  
Dec 5th, 2004, 04:02 PM
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Hi platz,

Even if you pay 15% more than the bank exchange rate for $100 worth of euros, it only cost about $13.

The last time we bought euros at the departure airport we paid a premium of about $6 to exchange $100.
ira is online now  
Dec 5th, 2004, 04:31 PM
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Please notify your ATM card holder so they can activate your card in Europe. I just called my bank and they needed to do this to make sure it works in Europe. Also, I have heard of pins starting with zero in Europe do not necessarily work. I've heard it works in some countries and I've heard it does work....just something to think about. Have fun!
Travels_with_Food is offline  
Dec 6th, 2004, 07:06 AM
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While you are talking to your ATM card holder, also get the phone numebr to use from the UK if you have a problem during the trip. The 800 cannot be called from there.

Also notify and get the phone number for your credit card company.

Keith is offline  
Dec 6th, 2004, 11:54 AM
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If there was a better way to get money, the travel obsessed posters here on Fodors would know about it -LOL.

Simply take Pounds out at the first ATM you see in Heathrow. It's easy as can be, favorable exchange rate, and fee only as imposed by your own home bank ($0-3 per international transaction is typical).
suze is offline  
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