Lengthy queues, poor customer service, but a good exchange rate. What are you willing to put yourself through to secure the best deal on your currency exchange?
When it comes to choosing a currency exchange provider, I have always put the best conversion rate at the top of my list. Four in ten Which? members feel the same, putting rates ahead of location, convenience and trust in the brand itself.
Of course, if exchange rates were of the utmost importance, I’d probably be ordering my money online where more favourable exchange rates are usually available. But, like nearly six in ten Which? members, I always end up exchanging my money in store.
Best currency rates vs convenience
This brings me to a late-summer afternoon in the town of Kingston. As usual I’d left it too late to order my currency online. The thought of exchanging my money doesn’t fill me with joy, so it’s a task that usually ends up in the ‘must do’ pile alongside booking my airport parking and buying suntan lotion. And this holiday was no different.
I wasn’t totally unprepared however. I’d done my usual research before heading out, finding out who was offering the best exchange rate for Euros that day. I parked up and headed for the store.
As I approached the Bureau de Change my frustration levels rose as I saw the queue. I’d faced a similar queue here before – yes, I was becoming an expert on currency exchange queues. It was one of those annoying queues that doesn’t look too long, but 20 minutes later you’ve moved about four places along the line and are left ruing your decision to stick it out. Not this time.
I got straight on my smartphone and looked up the exchange rate for a travel agent on the high street. The rate wasn’t quite as good, but a quick calculation and I soon realised that making the switch would cost me less than a pound. I might even save money on the extra car parking costs I’d have to pay for sticking around in the Bureau de Change. I nipped straight over to the high street travel agent – no queue and they even matched their online rate, so I ended up with a better deal!
Do the best currency rates top your list?
What’s the moral of this story? For me, it’s that although the exchange rate is important, I now consider convenience to be just as important. Most Which? members exchange between £100 and £299, so check the rates to see what the real cost is to you. Is the difference worth the extra petrol money, queuing time or parking costs?
So, what’s the most important factor for you when exchanging your holiday money?