Saturday, December 3, 2016

Foreign exchange foreign to me

An Unfittie's Guide to Adventurous Travel blogger Kay Davies (that would be me) recently home from a trip to Scotland, England and Europe (that would be me, too) was surfing online and discovered a Huffington Post article on foreign exchange rates by Stephanie Caudle, Managing Editor, She's My Superwoman.

The article intrigued me enough to set me to quoting it without direct permission. My thanks, however, to Ms Caudle and to the Huffington Post, as well as apologies if those are deemed necessary.

I admit I was nervous when I chose to buy Sterling and Euros before I left Canada all by my somewhat dithery self. (Okay, more than somewhat, as Damon Runyon used to say.)

I based my which-bank decision on location, not on any particular bank's foreign exchange rate. More fool I, perhaps, but that's how I looked at it in October. (Get there quickly and easily and get right back home.) Don't tell anyone that 'quickly' meant I left my wallet in my car, thus approaching the bank teller without it, and having to rush (i.e. waddle quickly) back to the car. Returning to the same teller, I was quite pleased with myself for finding both British Pounds and Scottish pounds, the latter of which I never knew existed, but which I loved immediately. (See what I mean about me?)

I wish I had learned of Ms Caudle's wisdom earlier:

"When it comes to local currency exchange, it’s important to recognize there are two sets of exchange rates. There is the Bank of Canada published rates that we can find online and in the newspaper, then there are the exchange rates your bank actually uses when you buy U.S. cash with Canadian currency.
"The lower published rates reflect what banks use when they exchange enormous sums of money amongst themselves, (but) the rates they charge us are typically as much as 3% higher.
"Exchange rates fluctuate from one financial institution to the next and are typically set by the individual banks themselves."
(Note: I had heard of the Canadian Snowbirds Association but didn't realize it offers "better-than-bank rates through online transfers.")
The article went on to say “The banks...don’t compete on price...we are keeping them honest and helping Canadians save,” according to Rahim Madhavji, president of Toronto’s Knightsbridge Foreign Exchange Inc., a firm he co-founded after quitting his job at the Royal Bank of Canada in 2009.
"The Snowbirds and Knightsbridge are putting the power of bulk buying into the hands of the individual, and in doing so, are giving Canadians the opportunity to beat the banks at their own game."

Linking with Lady Fi's Our World Tuesday meme


Yamini MacLean said...

Hari OM
In these days of electronic banking, one only requires a minimum amount of cash, for credit and debit cards permit payment security. It does mean paying whatever is that day's rate and there is the possibility of fluctuation, but the difference, ultimately, is but a dollar or two - nothing in the scheme of what such travel costs overall.

When I do require to exchange for cash, in both OZ and UK we have independent exchange venues... for my USD and CAD this year, I bought them at dad's local supermarket counter - and got about $5 more than if I had done it at the bank! That five bucks benefit would not have been the incentive to have travelled further rather than go to the bank though; the bus fares alone would eat it up. YAM xx

Jo said...

Hi Kay, I never knew about Scottish Pounds either. I think you did quite well but next time you'll know about online with cheaper rates! Hugs Jo

Sallie (FullTime-Life) said...

I really wish I needed this advice. But at least we will soon travel to Florida. It will seem like another country but no exchange rate.

Stewart M said...

My last encounter with currency I was not familiar with was in Indonesia - when I checked in they wanted to take a credit card imprint for the cost of the room - and then said 'Shall we round it up to 9 million, just to make things simple'! - that was a bit of a shock - but $900 sounded better! (It all sounded fine on a company card too!!)

Cheers - Stewart M - Melbourne

Mara said...

The only thing I know: when abroad and paying by credit card: use the local currency! Never pay in your own currency! So, if you're in Norway next year, make sure you pay in kroner and not in Canadian dollars. You will be the worse off if you do!
I kept tabs of how much the amount was if I payed in my own currency during my holiday and bar one, I was always worse off!

My tip of the day!

carol l mckenna said...

Great post ~ so informative ~ You do so well traveling by yourself??? ~ xox

Wishing you a Happy Week ~ ^_^

Yogi♪♪♪ said...

It has been a while since I traveled to a foreign country but I learned quickly to shop around for exchange rates.

Jenn Jilks said...

We haven't traveled in ages...