How to Avoid Common Airport Scams

You’ve just survived a 12-hour international flight, cooped up in economy seating. Falling victim to a clever scam artist is the last thing you want to happen when you arrive at your destination.

We show you the most common airport scams and give you tips to avoid them.

Airport currency exchange fees

Whether it’s exorbitant fees, commissions, or poor currency exchange rates … the rule is ‘don’t exchange cash at the airport’.

Unlike most European, Australasian and North American countries, currency exchange is unregulated in some countries. This can result in anyone can start a currency exchange booth and charging you whatever they want.

A common scam can occur when you change money at night. The cashier may tell you that the posted rate is a ‘day rate’ and the ‘night rate’ is different, which is not in your favour! Another trick is the cashier may count your change painfully slow so that you become impatient and don’t count your cash properly.

How to avoid

The airport is usually the worst place to exchange currency. So take care of your currency needs before you depart for your overseas trip. At Crown Currency, we charge no commissions or fees and offer you competitive rates.

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Taxi Scams

There are various taxi scams, whether it’s unmetered taxis or taking you on a longer route … here are some to be aware of:

Different hotel

You tell your driver which hotel you want to go to, and he takes you to a different one. There will be excuses like ‘The hotel you asked for has closed down’ or ‘It’s fully booked’. The driver gets a commission for booking you into the hotel he has taken you to.

The scenic drive

Your driver takes you on the longest possible route to your destination and charges you a hefty fare.

The old switcheroo

You give the driver a fifty, look away for a second and the next thing she is holding a ten. The driver insists that you’ve shortchanged her.

I don’t understand

The driver tells you that the price is 15 real and, at the end of your journey, insists that he meant 50 real! Language barriers mean that you end up paying more than you expected.

How to avoid

  • Wherever possible, arrange for a shuttle service provided by your hotel.
  • Outside the airport, choose metered taxis only.
  • Always check that the meter is running.
  • If your driver inflates the fare, leave a reasonable amount on the seat and walk away. It’s a good idea to have plenty of small notes and coins on hand for this reason.
  • Do your research using websites like worldtaximeter.com or taxifarefinder.com. If you are still unsure, check TripAdvisor, airport websites or ask hotel staff for estimated fares.

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Phone scam

You’ve arrived in a foreign country, exhausted and jet-lagged. You don’t have local currency for making a call. You find a phone that accepts credit cards, but it doesn’t tell you the rates. Beware! You could pay rip off rates, even for a short call.

How to avoid

Use cash for airport telephone booths. Even if rates are visible, they still may not include hidden charges.

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Airport security

The person in front of you sets off the metal detector. While the person is lingering as they empty their pockets, their accomplice may use the opportunity to steal your phone, wallet and other valuables from the conveyor belt.

How to avoid

  • Keep your belongings on you until you are ready to walk through security.
  • Put your valuables in the same bin and take your time to ensure that you haven’t missed anything. You can put your valuables together in a clear ziplock bag to make it harder to steal individual items.
  • Or, you can put your most valuable items through the machine last.
  • Keep an eye on your items as they go through the machine.

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