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I’ve always known that changing money at airports is a terrible deal. But I was curious to see just how much I would be ripped off, so I converted $100.50 into 60 euros at the Travelex Currency Services in Newark airport.
This was a terrible deal, because I would have received 16 more euros, for a total of 76 euros, if I had converted $100.50 at the official inter-bank rate.
I paid ~27% more (16 extra euros/60 euros) because of the fees involved at the Travelex store!
Don’t expect Travelex to tell you just how much extra you’re paying. In my experience, the representatives are either themselves clueless about the fees or intentionally understate the fees to make a sale. My receipt labels the representative as a “Sales Consultant” so I suspect a significant portion of the representatives’ salary is based on the volume of foreign currency sales.
This means that there is a significant incentive for the representative to generate sales and divert attention from the high fees charged by Travelex. I specifically asked about fees, and was told that no fees were charged. Which is technically correct because the receipt labels them as “Service Charges.”
A $9.95 Service Charge is a Fee to Me!
The colorful marketing chart at the Travelex booth has the audacity to state “Discounted Exchange Rate on Today’s Transaction” when the foreign currency fee is 14% MORE, for converting US dollars to euros, than the inter-bank rate!
No Value For You!
And the “savings” mentioned are fictitious savings likely generated by comparing to inflated base rates.
Foreign Currency Conversion Fees
You pay two fees when you change currency at an airport. This is in spite of the sales consultant (& the Travelex receipt) telling you that there are no fees. That’s because there is a “Service Charge” so Travelex can honestly say that you weren’t charged a “fee” when in-fact the service charge has the same effect as a fee! Continue reading