If you need to change money into foreign currency, for a trip or because you have been paid in foreign currency, or you’re an expat looking to regularly convert a foreign pension, or any other reason, then you should look for a specialist foreign currency converter.
There is the option to have currency converted at the airport, or to just pull money out of your bank in the currency in question, but both of these things are going to be expensive compared to having it done by a specialist. The rates that are offered by most banks are not competitive, and airport currency conversion places know that they have captive audience so they can over-charge.
Even services such as PayPal offer automatic conversion but they are not competitive. If you are going to get paid in foreign currency on a regular basis it makes sense to withdraw the foreign currency to a bank account and get it converted elsewhere instead. Specialists such as continentalcurrency.ca are a competitive option that would give you a chance to save a substantial amount of money compared to getting paid in foreign currency and converting it within your Paypal balance.
Avoiding Fees and Commissions
The thing that you want to look at when choosing a currency converter is how much they charge compared to the base rate, and if you are changing holiday money, what their buy back rate is as well (and whether they charge you a second time for buy back or offer it for ‘free’).
There will always be a small amount of variance between the currency converter services. This means that it is well worth shopping around until you can find one which offers the best market rate. Having accounts with a few different ones, and experimenting with different delivery options and even changing different amounts of money can cut your costs substantially in some cases.
Tracking the prices and getting alerts when there is a company offering a rate below a certain amount can be a good way of changing money if you have the luxury of being flexible with when you change your funds. You may lose out doing this if you change your currency and the rate changes, but at least you have got a moderately decent exchange rate.
If you regularly change money then you can opt for a service that will give you a fixed rate. These can be useful for people who are getting a pension in foreign currency for example. Again, this gives you predictability and peace of mind, but there is the risk of losing out on better rates when they crop up. Setting the rate is a good idea if you absolutely need that fixed income for a mortgage or something similar, though.
For occasional tourists who want to play the market, you would be better of just watching the exchange rate and changing money when you find a nice price. With patience and savvy shopping you can stretch your budget a long way.