Saturday, July 31, 2010

Pssst...Change Money? Avoid Travelex

Yeah, I already know this and so do you, but one of the worst ways to exchange money, short of an armed robbery, is to use one of those ubiquitous Travelex booths in an international airport terminal.

But I was bound for London recently, and needed to hit the ground running on arrival at London City Airport, an airport I'm unfamiliar with. (A very nice and extremely convenient airport from which British Airways operates all-business-class service to New York on Airbus A318 planes -- and more on that later).

Normally, I'd simply get pocket money in British pounds at an ATM machine at Heathrow -- no great shakes, but way better than the exchange rate I got at the Travelex booth before departure at JFK Terminal 7:

So I wanted a mere 100 British pounds? At Travelex at JFK the other day, that came to $177.27 US, please, plus a $7.95 "service fee" (as if the vig on the exchange rate were not sufficient). Total: $185.22 (and I haven't checked yet to see if my American Express card slapped on its own fee. More on that later, too.)

Actual international exchange rate for that same day, as shown on the very useful site: 100 British pounds = $154.27.

Travelex describes itself as "the world's largest foreign exchange and international payments specialist with over 700 retail branches across 30 countries at key airport, seaport, rail and tourist locations."

Thanks for the warning. I'd plumb forgot.


1 comment:

James said...

Hey there... Didn't know you were blogging, I'm a regular NY Times reader, and we've corresponded once or twice.

Anyway, City Airport is far and away the best airport for flying in and out of London. You don't have the long waits you normally get at the other four airports, and it is closer to where you want to go.