Exchanging Currency
August 31, 2004 7:17 PM   Subscribe

Seeking advice/information on exchanging currency. I am planning on converting a chunk of money in yen to dollars and moving it from a bank in Japan to one in the US. Has anyone had experience doing this and could give me a heads up about what issues I need to concern myself with, aside from the exchange rate?
posted by shoos to Work & Money (5 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I used to convert moderate-sized chunks of yen to dollars back in the day. If you're in Japan, you can buy dollar-denominated cashier's checks at most large banks, for not too far off the quoted exchange rate, and for not too large a service charge. You could also open an account (I think they call it "Multi-Money") at Citibank. The full features of the account are beyond me, but one of the things is a sort of currency-neutral worldview -- deposit in any currency, withdraw in any other.
If you're thinking of physically carrying a financial instrument into the U.S., be aware that you have to declare amounts larger than $10,000. Not likely that they'll find the $50K check in folded up in your shoe, but if they do, they'll keep it and you'll be lucky not to end up in jail for carrying more money than an honest citizen would need for any legitimate business purpose.
posted by spacewrench at 10:27 PM on August 31, 2004

Banks often add on extra service charges on both ends of an interbank transfer, and the exchange rates they use can vary widely. Ask first about all the charges. Some more comments about moving money internationally here.
posted by fuzz at 2:38 AM on September 1, 2004

And do shop around. At one point I had to do frequent transfers between the US and the Slovak Rebpublic. I checked every bank in my town and the disparity in service and service changes was surprising.
posted by plinth at 3:05 AM on September 1, 2004

Lloyds has a good remittance service. It's useful it sign up for their email to watch the daily rate.

The alternative is the post office, which is pretty surprising. You may have to check that as I suspect it only works for certain countries.

The third alternative is Citibank, but the rate changes depending on whether you have an account there.

Sending money home

Avoid the Japanese banks at all costs.
posted by dydecker at 4:34 AM on September 1, 2004

How about using a currency brokerage? The best one I've found is XETrade (run by the folks that do the most-excellent xe.com exchange rate site). They basically make their money on the spread (i.e., they get more favourable rates by consolidating trades and trading larger amounts than your trade alone) so there are no service fees, apart from a wire fee (usually about 10 bucks) should you choose this method of deposit into your US bank account. You can also do an EFT into your account which is free, but takes a bit longer.

You'll also run into wire fees from your own bank in order to get the money to XETrade's bank, but there are sneaky ways around that (at least here in the UK) such as setting them up as a one-time only bill-pay recipient, etc. YMMV.

Trading currency can be a bit daunting at first, but once you work out your first trade it's pretty straightforward and by far, the cheapest way to move money around.
posted by lazywhinerkid at 6:54 AM on September 1, 2004

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