Thursday, 6 September 2007

Saving on currency exchanges while travelling

Recently, I was travelling to Gothenburg, Sweden on business. As I was starting my trip from Melbourne, I had a couple of connections, one in Bangkok and the other in Copenhagen. If I had only two hours in either of those airports, it would not be too bad. But I was in Bangkok for three hours and in Copenhagen for four hours.

Anyway, when I purchased some food, I forgot one of the less enjoyable things while travelling, handling many different currency. Having a think about the situation, I came up with a two tips to save money from the currency perspective.

At the departing airport, I exchanged some Australian Dollars to Swedish Krones. At travelex, they offer a service to buy back your converted currency at the same exchange rate as they have sold it to you. Travelex call it their Buy Back Plus, and it has cost me an extra $10. This could make a significant difference as the foreign exchanges usually would offer to buy foriegn currency at a significantly different exchange rate that they would for selling it to you. For example, Travelex offered to exchange the Swedish Krones at approximately 5.6 krones per dollar. I looked at the buying rate, and it was at 6.1 krones per dollar. At these rates, I would have got 2800 krones for my 500 dollars, and if I didn't spend any money, I would have got about $459 when I returned into Australia. In this example, I saved about $41 dollars.

To save on fees, when shopping at airports, buy from shops that accept the currency that you have. When I was Copenhagen, the majority of the shops accepted Swedish Krones, which I good as I don't need to exchange for Danish Kronas. The trick with this is ask for the change to be in the currency you use to pay, especially if you are just transiting at the airport.

Travelling for either pleasure or business is usually an expensive activity. Juggling many different currency is always a challenge to keep the fees low and not to lose over the currency exchanges.


Kin said...

I was surprised to see a cafe at Heathrow accepted pouds, Deutch Marks, Eros, Australian dollars, US dollars and a few others. As it was we were trying to get rid of the last 7 pounds we had, so were happy to see it go (in exchange for some decent food).

We transited for 2hrs in Bangkok both on the way to and from the UK, and I snuck some snacks from home and the plane for the kids to eat while we were waiting. I chucked them before getting back on the plane.

tehnyit said...

From a business point of view, especially if you run something like a cafe in busy airports like Heathrow, Sydney, or Copenhagen, it would be crazy not to accept a range of popular currencies.

I hate having to either do a small forex transaction for something like lunch or put in on the credit card.