Currency Conversion – More Bang For Your Buck

Malaysian & US Money

Do I go ahead and trade fx in the UK? Should I wait? Do I take advantage while it’s up? What happens if it goes down?

And before you ask, no, this isn’t a Year 7 sex education class. These are, in fact, the questions I found myself asking on Wednesday, April 6 when wondering whether or not I should cash in on the high trading Australian dollar.

In just over four weeks, I will be venturing back over to Florida and needed to decide whether or not I should take advantage of this incredible rise. It didn’t take too long for me to realise that the answer was indeed yes and before I knew it, I was out comparing exchange rates. I found that, despite the Aussie dollar being at an all time high, it still pays to shop around a little when exchanging foreign currency.

Stop 1: Australia Post

For those of you not from here, Australia Post is the major postal system in Australia; similar to that of the USPS in the United States.

You can purchase foreign currency at most major Australia Post outlets. I’ve always been a fan of purchasing a portion of my currency in advance and Australia Post has always been my first option for doing so for the following reasons…

Advantages:

a) No Conversion Fees: Yep, that’s right, Australia Post does not rip you off by charging you up the ass for their conversion service.

b) Best Exchange Rates: American Express is the company behind Australia Post’s currency conversion and although they don’t offer 100% of what the going exchange rate is on any given day, I’ve found they always offer the highest from those available. On Wednesday, the Aussie dollar was trading at $1 AUD = $1.034 USD and Australia Post offered it to me for $1.015 USD.

Disadvantages:

a) Minimum Order Amount: If you’re after a large sum of money, then this isn’t something you need worry about. If you’re looking at only getting a very small amount converted though, Australia Post have a minimum conversion amount of $200 AUD. This was not an issue for me, but I can see how it might be for some.

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Stop 2: Flight Centre

Advantages:

a) No Minimum Order Amount: I asked if there was a minim order amount, the girl behind the counter wasn’t sure, but after trying $50, the system was going to allow it – good to know if you’re only in need of a small amount of foreign currency.

Disadvantages:

a) Crap Exchange Rates: When I asked what rate they could exchange my currency for, I was told that for every $1 AUD I would be getting back $0.98 USD. WTF?!? Below a dollar? Hell no! Not sure which company is behind Flight Centres currency conversion, but this was unacceptable.

b) Conversion Fees: This shit-house exchange rate led me to believe that even though Flight Centre endorse a ‘no conversion fees’ policy, someone is still making a profit from the lowered exchange rate being offered when compared to that of Australia Post.

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Although, in reality, there are only a few cents difference between Australia Post and Flight Centre, if it is a large quantity of money you are looking at converting and you are a budget-conscious traveller, it all adds up…

Australia Post: $1000 AU = $1015 USD

Flight Centre: $1000 AU = $980 USD

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That’s already an extra $35 USD for your vacation…
and let me tell you, $35 in the USA buys you quite a few beers!

Oh, and while at it, as the image above suggests, I picked up some Malaysian Ringgit for the trip to Kuala Lumpur that I won and leave for in exactly four days. You can choose my Malaysian adventure here!
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How do you convert your currency before embarking on overseas travel?
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