Best way to convert half a dozen currencies into one?
April 29, 2013 8:38 AM   Subscribe

I have at least $500 worth of cash from half a dozen different Asian countries sitting in my underwear drawer for at least two years now. What's the cheapest, lowest-fee but legal way to convert them into one currency (Euro or USD)? I travel frequently to France and the United States, so changing them to Euro or USD is fine either way, but just not sure if the best way is the airport counter, a random bank, at the hotel I stay at, or something else...? I would like to have a good idea on how to go forward with this, before I go about traveling with all this random cash, only to find out I'd have to lug them back to home to my ultra top secret underwear drawer hideout since it's too expensive/all these currencies aren't accepted for exchange/not worth it.

What I'm most concerned about are fees. Once, I exchanged some cash at the airport and the fees were insane at probably $15-20 for the transaction. Since I have so many different types of currencies, would they each be a separate transaction fee?

They range anywhere from $50-$100 worth each, totaling up to ~$500, from the following types:
Indonesian Rupiah
Thai Baht
Hong Kong Dollar
Singapore Dollar
Japanese Yen
Argentinian Peso

I also have some others of lower value, ~$30 each, possibly not worth bothering but also would be great to convert:
Chinese Renminbi
Korean Won

As a note, I live in Russia so exchanging them at "home" is a lot more challenging- along with the language barrier- than going to a more international city such as Paris or NYC.
posted by peachtree to Work & Money (7 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Next time you're in Paris or NYC, find a bank and go to its exchange counter, or just up to a teller. If you have an account or some other relationship with that bank, so much the better. They'll almost always have lower exchange fees than the counters at the airport.

Honestly, though, I'd keep them. It's nice to flip through a scrapbook and remember the trips where you picked up the money.
posted by Etrigan at 8:41 AM on April 29, 2013

Yeah, in general banks are going to be much better than airport stations, still you are going to take a hit, especially because there will be a % fee on each transaction, but I guess it's better than having $ you can't really use... so pretty much do what Etrigam says.
posted by edgeways at 8:52 AM on April 29, 2013

See if you can find exchange rates online for different places. I live in the UK, so I don't know if it applies, but for example the exchange rates offered by the post office were much much better than those offered by my bank when I had to exchange money. Like, 10 percent better or something ridiculous.
posted by stillnocturnal at 9:04 AM on April 29, 2013

Another thing that I have done in the past is sell them to a friend who is going to those countries (you probably couldn't sell all those at once). You both save the transaction fees!
posted by amaire at 9:04 AM on April 29, 2013 [1 favorite]

I'd go to American Express or a regular bank. You'll pay a conversion fee, but it won't be as terrible at TravelEx at the airport.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 9:09 AM on April 29, 2013

Never do this at the airport, they'll kill you with fees. Everyone is right that a bank in a major city in Europe is the way to go. Note that you will very likely not be able to exchange coins, only bills. You can often donate the coinage in-flight to UNICEF or other organisations.
posted by DarlingBri at 9:32 AM on April 29, 2013 [1 favorite]

Amaire above has the right idea - sell them at posted rates to friends going to those countries. You'll both save on exchange fees and commissions, so it really is a win-win.

If that's not possible (no friends visiting Argentina in the next year), exchange them at a bank, preferably in the financial district of a large city that is used to dealing with foreign currencies. Airports and especially hotels will stiff you a huge amount on the exchange rates.
posted by RedOrGreen at 3:03 PM on April 29, 2013

« Older iPad apps for grandma   |   Extract XY coordinates from Apple Motion5? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.