Should I exchange currency at the airport? Should I exchange currency before I travel?
Exchange only what you need to get you to your destination. In other words, exchange enough for the taxi fare and a hamburger or coke. BUT DO NOT EXCHANGE MONEY AT THE AIRPORT.
At an airport, two things happen. FIRST, all of the exchange booths collude to have the SAME RATE so that you have no actual choice. SECOND, the rate is less than what you will get outside of the airport. Sometimes the rate is extremely bad for you. When you exchange money at an airport exchanger, you are effectively PAYING FEES for the convenience of being on the airport grounds. Your best rate for exchanging cash will be at street money exchange booths.
The *BEST* choice is to use your ATM card in an ATM machine and withdraw whatever you need. You always get a better exchange rate from your band using your ATM card.
As I write this article, I realize that I don’t have any pictures to compare the airport exchange rate with the spot rate, so I will make sure to add those to my collection and post them on this thread so you can see PROOF of the poor exchange rate at the airport.
The same situation occurs when you pay in a non-local currency at the airport. Take Burger King for example. They will except USD cash if you choose to pay with USD … but they are going to sting you with the rate they honor — AND they are going to give your change in the local currency, NOT USD. You are better using a credit card.
The above photo was taken at Burger King in the Bangkok Airport on December 18, 2014. You can see they were offering the rate of 31.06 (baht per USD).
Had I used my credit card, I would have received 32.90 (baht ber USD). On an average “meal”, you would have paid $1USD more by using their exchange service. It doesn’t sound like much, but it is unnecessarily wasted money.