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1001 Arabian Nightmares

Pardon the play on this famous work. I thought of it when I spoke to a tourist from the middle east this year.

It’s not easy for someone from those parts of the globe to find Australian dollars in their homeland. But, most people know that everyone, anywhere in the world, wherever they travel, will take the US dollar. So, many people change their local currency for US dollars and this cost is anywhere from 4 – 10%.

This man from the Middle East, like many of his compatriots, arrived in Australia and had to change the US dollars into AUD. In our shops, this costs him approximately another 3% above the market rate. And, if he’s unfortunate enough to change at the airport it could be up to 10% with fees or commission. If he happens upon a money changer away from the airport who also charges fees or commission, he is again much worse off.

This double whammy effect can be avoided easily. If my friend from the Middle East had brought his native currency, I could have changed it straight into AUD. When I asked him why he had brought USD instead of his native currency, he told me that he was concerned that no one in Australia would take the well-known Middle Eastern currencies. But of course we would.

And we would have traded his money with no commission, no fees, and the best rates. Each year, we see thousands of visitors from the Middle East (more than 1001!) and mostly their currency transactions are in USD and are costing them more than they should be paying, often double.

This can happen to you if you travel to a country without buying its currency before you leave. A well-trained foreign currency consultant should be able to tell you what to take with you no matter where you travel. A well-founded money exchanger should deal in about 50 currencies, including many exotic ones.

Of course, there are some regimes whose currencies are not commonly traded or available. That usually tells you something about the risks of travelling in those places. Always check with your travel agent or on the Internet for any warnings.

So here’s the moral of this story: Avoid paying twice for currency exchange. Bring your native currency straight to a reputable money changer here in Australia. Look for an operator who does not charge commission or fees, even when disguised as a “tax.”

In Australia, I advise my clients to ask for the currency required at their destination before they step onto the boarding ramp! This saves money and disappointment at the other end.

However, don’t forget to also take at least enough cash for stopovers. It’s always nice to be able to buy something refreshing in a stopover without incurring Card fees or having to change some of your destination cash into a third currency to buy a coffee.

Check out my other blogs and videos for important tips on handing your money wisely and travelling safely.


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Posted in Blog, Travel Money Tips
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