My Award Winning Global Travel Hack for Savings on Currency Conversion
As travellers, we always look out for travel hacks that could help us stretch our dollar – be it by finding deals for airfares, stay, or more. In this post, I share my most powerful travel hack – no currency conversion. Because of this hack, FlightNetwork.com featured me amongst the World’s Best Travel Hackers in 2017.
My Most Powerful Travel Hack – No Currency Conversion
During my recent Frankfurt-Plzeň-Prague-Frankfurt road trip with friends, I spotted a signboard (0% Commission Signage – you’ll see it below). Seeing this, a strong negative emotion resurfaced from my subconscious. As a travel photographer, I had begun to ignore these signboards. Not because I didn’t need monies during my travels. But because I had found my workaround.
Over the last many years, I had stopped exchanging currency during my frequent trips abroad. And it all started with my 2005 trip to South Africa.
Currency Exchange or Robbery?
We were a group of around twenty people. If I remember right, those days, the exchange rate used to be around 6.4 South African Rands (ZAR or Dutch-origin Zuid-Afrikaanse Rand) to a dollar. On Day 1, most of us stepped out to exchange our dollars for the local currency.
It came as a collective rude shock that the currency exchange folks were offering us around ZAR 5.6 for our dollar. When we checked, they were charging ZAR 7.1 for selling a dollar.They were paying us 12.5% less ZAR per dollar and were paying ~11% less per ZAR to convert it back to dollars. This was an exorbitant spread. In fact, it was daylight robbery!
During that trip, I converted a minimal amount of currency. For my spending-monies, I found a couple of friendly Bank ATM’s that were NOT charging a conversion surcharge. And, I drew local currency from those ATM’s.
IMPORTANT: Remember to find a secure ATM. Either find one inside a bank or at least find one that is inside a cubicle.
The Provocation and Its Effect
Now, for over 12 years, I have diligently followed this hack. I have NOT converted currency during my travels. Naturally, I have saved myself a packet using this hack. And then I see that signboard in Prague on 25th August 2017. It claimed – “0% Commission.” The cheek!
That day, the official exchange rate was US$1 = CZK21.89 (Czech Koruna). They were paying 28% less for every dollar you exchanged (only CZK15.70). And, they were paying 4.8% fewer dollars for the CZKs you sold.
It perturbed me enough to share this hack with my reader friends. Use it, and save yourself a packet!