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Is it cheaper to buy currency at home or at destination ??

Travel Forums Asia Is it cheaper to buy currency at home or at destination ??

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1. Posted by Steve_ell (Budding Member 39 posts) 10y

Has anyone noticed if there is a significant & consistent advantage in buying currency at home before you leave raher than buying it on arrival in the foreign country? Specifically I am faced with the dilemma of using $A to buy Thai baht here in Oz before I leave, or waiting till I arrive in Thailand. I am changing a fairly large amount.

2. Posted by cde3879 (Full Member 142 posts) 10y

I am by no means an expert but I was gobsmacked at how good the exchange rate was from UK £ to THB in the airport in Bangkok - far better than back home (71B/£ compared to 64B/£, and no commission either). So when I go back there I'm going to wait until I'm there before changing money. Don't know if it's the same for aussie dollars but can't imagine it would be that different?

3. Posted by paul j (Respected Member 217 posts) 10y

Do you get the same rate taking money from an ATM machine?

4. Posted by Steve_ell (Budding Member 39 posts) 10y

Thanks cde... you are very persuasive

5. Posted by cde3879 (Full Member 142 posts) 10y

No problem mate, have a good trip - and please don't just take my word for it!

6. Posted by Sam I Am (Admin 5588 posts) 10y

I never change money at home before leaving. I think I might have done this one time and that was at least 10 years ago.

My reasons:

  • time. Why bother going to the bank, standing in line when you can just take money out of the first atm you come across (whereever you travel pretty much!) in your destination and save all that time.
  • stress/hassle etc.. I usually have plenty of things to finish off before leaving. Why add to that list?
  • cost. I've never found it to be cheaper to get money out at home or in departure airport (I'll check rates from time to time on short flights). I haven't actually sat down and really crunched the numbers, but my gut tells me you'd do much better changing money upon arrival.
  • convenience. Why bother with all the hassle when you can just take money out of an atm. Plus, you don't have to run around with massive amounts of money (either home currency or local one!)
  • safety. Let's face it, getting robbed when you're carrying 2000 dollars is worse than getting robbed with only 200....

I list up a rather similar list for why I never take travellers cheques actually, except the cost of those things really does make them quite unaffordable! Recently some friends travelled to Norway and against my advice bought travellers cheques before leaving. I met up with them in Norway and they were pretty upset about having gone ahead and gotten them because the banks in Norway were happily charging them extra fees on top of what they paid at home. And of course they quickly learned there was an atm they could use on just about every block...

If you would stress out about not having any currency with you and it's your first trip, I can see the benefits for your peace of minds sake, but otherwise I really don't. It's never come back to haunt me and the only time I haven't been able to take out money with an ATM card was on Koh Pha Ngan in 2000. Still could take out cash on a credit card though, so one of those as a backup is useful!

Just my 2 cents (or is it more cents when it's a longer post?)...

7. Posted by daveh (Travel Guru 1027 posts) 10y

If you're in the UK then change it at your destination. I have mostly travelled to S/SE Asia in the last few years and have always seen a more favourable rate abroad, although i use an ATM card these days just because it's easier. In Thailand for example you will also get a slightly better exchange rate if you change t/c's as opposed to cash.

8. Posted by Mel. (Travel Guru 4567 posts) 10y

Hello Steve

Can u buy Thai baht, in Australia? In Europe, where I live, it is impossible to buy anything, except major currencies. These would be the strong stable ones, like US dollars, UK sterling, Australian dollars....
When I was in Thailand, 1 baht was equal to 46 cents euro, at the exchange place, in the airport. I changed enough cash, for my month in Thailand there. This was in November. U can also check on the web what is the current official exchange rate. If the exchange places in Australia can compare with this, then I think they are giving a good deal. When I changed cash, in Thailand, I got slightly less, than the quote, on the internet.


9. Posted by oslaue (Full Member 571 posts) 10y

in smaller, less known and unpopular currencys one has to put in a special request to the bank.

also certain banks like hsbc in my case enable to pay 10 quid a month were i am able to make as many widrawls from a atm, and not get charged by conversion, handling charge, etc...has it benefits if you are always at the atm machine or travelling about like me...

10. Posted by don_kam (Full Member 115 posts) 10y

Specifically for Thailand, the rates are generally better when you get to Thailand.

Of course, the trick is that you have to carry large amount of A$ over by yourself which can be risky.... if you are not worried about lossing the A$ on the way, I will definately suggest you change the batt in Thailand as you will probably get better rates.