Travel & Holidays Currency exchange for travel

Discussion in 'Living Room' started by Daydreamer, 16th Jan, 2018.

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  1. Daydreamer

    Daydreamer Well-Known Member

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    Hi,

    Just wondering what people do to get the best exchange rate for getting foreign currency in cash before you leave Australia to travel overseas?

    I have generally used Citibank debit card to withdraw the local currency in cash at the ATM when I arrive at the destination. Gives very competitive exchange rate and often no (if Citibank ATM) or minimal ATM withdrawal fee. For larger amounts or at restaurants, I use my credit card (as I don't want to carry around too much cash).

    We are going to Egypt next month, and they apparently accept a lot in USD.
    Since the AUD is doing relatively well atm, I want to get some extra USD in cash before we depart.

    What is the best way to get major foreign currency (USD, Euros) in cash within Australia? Does Citibank branches (not many around) do currency exchange?
     
  2. Jamie Moore

    Jamie Moore MORTGAGE BROKER - AUSTRALIA WIDE Business Member

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    I do the same as you - I use an airport ATM on arrival. I take out large amounts each time - stash what I don’t need in the hotel safe (or somewhere reasonably secure in the place I’m staying) and keep what I need for the day.

    Are there issues with using an ATM in Egypt? Or is it because you specifically want USD?

    Cheers

    Jamie
     
  3. Daydreamer

    Daydreamer Well-Known Member

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    Yes, because I want to get USD in cash in addition to the local currency. Not just for the upcoming Egypt trip, but given the strength of the AUD, I think not a bad time to get some extra USD in cash (always will find use for them in the future). The above method works fine for getting local currency out and I do the same as you - ie. take large amounts of cash each time.
     
  4. FrivolousPanda

    FrivolousPanda Well-Known Member

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  5. geoffw

    geoffw Moderator Staff Member

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    Use Egyptian pounds in Egypt, and withdraw them when you get there. You won't have any problems with ATMs. Though I wouldn't use airport ATMs. US dollars are accepted, but you'll get a better rate locally, especially if you're going to shop away from the big hotels. Take a small amount of USD with you.

    We found Egypt amazing. Hope you enjoy.
     
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  6. Daydreamer

    Daydreamer Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for the advice. Any reason why you wouldn't use airport ATM?
    Is this specific to Egypt?

    Looking forward to Egypt - one of those destinations on the bucket list. I have been somewhat nervous though about it though given political instability and terror attacks in recent times. We have booked a private guided tour, so hopefully it will make it a bit more safer.
     
  7. geoffw

    geoffw Moderator Staff Member

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    Clarifying: when I said "get a better rate locally" I meant that you'll get a better deal using local currency.
     
  8. geoffw

    geoffw Moderator Staff Member

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    Airport exchange booths are generally much more expensive than elsewhere. I don't know about ATMs but I don't trust them based on airport prices on anything worldwide.

    Security in Egypt is good. Every tourist attraction has bag checks. There was a terrorist killing in my home town of Queanbeyan last year - making it statistically more dangerous than Egypt. Crossing a road in Cairo is far more dangerous than anything else - the traffic is seriously crazy.

    We travelled independently down the Sinai east coast from Aqaba to Sharm el Sheikh. That is in the travel advisory as "do not travel". ISIS is active in North Sinai. But we didn't feel unsafe.

    The upside is that tourist numbers are way down, and the queues are much smaller than they were once. However that means twice as many hawkers per traveller!

    Guide and driver tips are extra and should be budgeted for. Also drinks are generally extra - and that means water, which is only drunk bottled by us westerners.

    What's your itinerary?
     
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  9. Phar Lap

    Phar Lap Well-Known Member

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    Use a travel card and buy your currencies when they are cheap.
    I use Velocity Global Wallet. Around 3% comm.
    For ready cash just go to a local ATM or even pay direct with the card.
    Been buying currencies for a couple years now at great rates in readiness for up coming trips.
    Velocity Global Wallet | Site Requirements
     
  10. Daydreamer

    Daydreamer Well-Known Member

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    Yes, that was my interpretation of your comment :) I agree, always better to use the local currency. I will only carry USD as a back up but often the exchange rate conversion would not be in our favour compared to paying with the local currency.
     
  11. Daydreamer

    Daydreamer Well-Known Member

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    Thanks - that is reassuring to hear. And the reality of the world that we live in now is that "attacks" can happen just about anywhere now, and probably Egypt may be safer than Paris or London in some ways.
    Our itinerary is for 10 days: Aswan/Abu Simbel/4 day Nile Cruise (valley of the kings, etc)/Cairo for the pyramids, sphinx, Egyptian museum.
     
  12. Casteller

    Casteller Well-Known Member

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    Been to Egypt and Sudan three times, I just used the local ATMs, or Euros or Swiss francs for exchange. Euros more common since Europeans are the main tourists, and US dollar is slowly losing prominence around the world. Have some USD for airport fees though, strangely was same in eur or usd, a few years ago though.

    Also it's one of the few Muslim countries you can enter mosques as a non Muslim, highly recommend, some of them are quite spectacular inside and you can climb up the minarets. Small donation usually. Also the unknown pyramids like the red and bent pyramids, hardly any tourists.
     
  13. Westminster

    Westminster Tigress at Tiger Developments Business Member

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    I don't like double conversion as you tend to lose at each conversion.
    Even if they say they accept USD they are still converting to local currency and giving themselves a cut.
    I get a small amount of the country currency from an Australian foreign exchange (never the airport) and then use local ATMs to withdraw local currency cash.
    I sometimes use a travel card (Qantas Cash) but it doesn't do some currencies so then I just use ATMs.
     
  14. geoffw

    geoffw Moderator Staff Member

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    That sounds like a good itinerary. The balloon rides in Valley of the Kings are great, though sometimes there are incidents as happened last week. We did two days in the museum, one day with a guide and one alone, just because the volume of things to be seen is just overwhelming. Our cruise was excellent- we had a good vessel, and had a last minute upgrade to a suite. Allow for the tips also to cruise staff, and drinks on board.

    You might want local currency at the airport if you are arranging your own transfer at the airport, otherwise wait for your hotel.

    If you’re lucky you will have a pyramid view room- if not, you may be able to arrange an upgrade for a fee. The breakfast at the hotels we stayed at were magnificent- but then I usually can’t afford that class of hotel. It wasn’t that much more to get a five star hotel.
     
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  15. Ed Barton

    Ed Barton Well-Known Member

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    How much are we talking about? I understand wanting to get a good rate but is it really going to make a big difference if it's just a few hundred?

    I'd follow the Indians - they're very shrewd. If you see them at a local currency exchange booth it's likely to have competitive rates.
     
  16. Icarus

    Icarus Well-Known Member

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    As with the other comments above, ATMs are common and give pretty good rates. Stay away from changing currency at your hotel, rates are always much lower.
    If you are heading to any of the major attractions, always keep a few pounds spare as the toilets/toilet paper will cost you - found that out the hard way at Abu Simbal. Also, any of the local "guides" will ask for a baksheesh (tip) if any information is offered - feel free to refuse. A police officer asked us for a baksheesh at the pyramids too (after taking our photo) - he was carrying a gun, so I was pretty happy to hand over a few pounds. It was a bloody good photo though!!
    Tourist numbers will be well down, expect to be swamped by touts - on the flip side of this, there were only a very small number of tourists around when we visited the Valley of the Kings, and we were easily able to walk around the tombs and go from one to the next without lining up.

    As mentioned earlier, 5 star hotels are extremely well priced! You can live like a Pharaoh (see what I did there?) for $150AUD a night.

    We walked around the museum by ourselves on the first visit, then hired a tour guide the second time we visited. It was nice to have the commentary, but I think I discovered more just exploring/perusing.

    I loved Egypt, we had 2 weeks there and I could have stayed for 2 months. My fiancee was ready to go home after 2 days. I think when I was only offered 15 camels for her, she was a little offended - she thought she was worth at least 20 camels... :)

    Biggest surprise was staying in Hurgada - seaside resort town, Russian tourists everywhere, really relaxing and pretty good diving/fishing. Half completed complexes/dwellings everywhere - something to do with taxes apparently.

    Have a great trip!
     
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  17. Daydreamer

    Daydreamer Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for all your advice and tips. Looking forward to the trip !
     

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