Travel

Is it Cheaper to exchange money at the airport, Credit card or Debit card?

  • Last Updated:
  • Sep 29th, 2018 4:40 pm
[OP]
Deal Addict
Jul 26, 2012
1135 posts
38 upvotes

Is it Cheaper to exchange money at the airport, Credit card or Debit card?

I am planning to go to Beijing and Thailand in a couple of months.
Is it Cheaper to exchange money here in canada via Bank of china or should I just exchange currency at the airport though the currency exchange people, or by atm via Credit card or Debit card?
9 replies
Member
Oct 2, 2005
250 posts
115 upvotes
I was in Beijing and apparently, you get better rate with a $100 CAD or US, if you give them $50s or $10s to equal to $100 your rate is a little less. The same apply in Thailand for currency exchange.
The best place to exchange currency is at kantor.ca the rate is better then the bank.
Sr. Member
Jan 8, 2012
538 posts
245 upvotes
Williams Lake
My experience is to avoid the currency exchange booths at the airport like the plague.

The rates I've seen are ridiculous.
Deal Guru
Jan 27, 2006
10890 posts
4365 upvotes
Vancouver, BC
For any illiquid currency like the RMB, it's almost always better to do the money exchange in country through a major bank ATM as you will get the wholesale rate. However, there may be stiff fees associated with the withdraw.
Jr. Member
User avatar
May 8, 2017
193 posts
72 upvotes
Avoid airport for the money exchange at all cost, the conversion fee is sometimes 5% of the amount.
Deal Addict
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Jun 10, 2011
1939 posts
459 upvotes
Woodbridge
In Thailand, there is a exchange office on every corner. Just look at their posted rates, and go with the one that you like. Airport or hotel exchange rates are usually the worst so I'd use those only as the last resort (all exchange offices closed, atm machine is down etc)
Sr. Member
Nov 8, 2017
951 posts
453 upvotes
In order of best
1)credit card
2 for me , debit. BMO 3$ to use. I go to big bank atm
3) loan shark
4) foreign exchange booths
Sr. Member
Jun 13, 2018
540 posts
378 upvotes
I only beat the airport booth once, last year. They had a deal where if you booked your currency in advance, the rate was better than the bank. There was no commitment on my end, just an email confirmation of the amount. Thought I would would do the same on a trip to Virginia in May, nope. Rate was thru the roof again.
Deal Expert
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Aug 18, 2005
18594 posts
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GTA West
User455957 wrote:
Sep 29th, 2018 5:01 am
In order of best
1)credit card
2 for me , debit. BMO 3$ to use. I go to big bank atm
3) loan shark
4) foreign exchange booths
You can't generalize like this. It really depends on the country where you're going. The OP said China and Thailand.
China does not have those forex booths on the street, and you would have to go into the bank with your passport and undergo a lengthy process to exchange money.
In this case, debit card at the ATM is certainly the best deal. Their ATMs (as least as far as I have used) do not have surcharge fees for foreign debit cards. Better to just pay the out-of-network fee from your bank, as the super forex rate will overshadow a $3 fee for sure, as long as you are pulling at least ~500 RMB.

Thailand, on the other hand, is a totally different story. They have lots of forex booths all over the place. And the rates tend to be EXCELLENT.
You still need to bring your passport to the forex booth but it's really quick and easy. I did it at the airport in Thailand.
This will usually be a better deal, since every ATM in the country will be surcharging 220 THB (~$9) per foreign debit withdrawal.

My theory on this is that a lot of Asian countries tend to be cash based, and also it is very hard for Mainland Chinese to get other cash money when inside China.
What if there were no hypothetical questions?
Member
Jan 10, 2018
336 posts
192 upvotes
durrsak wrote:
Sep 27th, 2018 11:17 am
In Thailand, there is a exchange office on every corner. Just look at their posted rates, and go with the one that you like. Airport or hotel exchange rates are usually the worst so I'd use those only as the last resort (all exchange offices closed, atm machine is down etc)
Yes anywhere in the world Airport rates are horrible! Hotels are bad too! Usually I'll use an atm at the airport if i need instant cash and then exchange my Canadian currency later.
Use https://www.xe.com as your guide to know how badly their trying to rip you off. Right now the rate in 25.1 THB per CAD usually good money changers take 1% - 1.5% cut at the most, so like 24.8 would be a standard good rate.
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Banks here in Canada take like 5% cut on currency exchange... It's ridiculous! Always just exchange currency for the country you need when you're in the country.

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