The Sketchier Side of Changing Money

The Black Market

In some parts of the world there is an official exchange rate designed by the local government to profit mightily off tourists. In those same parts of the world, there is also often a black market, offering exchange services at better rates. Unless your idea of traveling with the kids is having them visit Daddy in a local prison, do not change money outside of recognized banks or exchange services.

The Worst Places to Change Money

That said, universally, the absolute worst places to change money are often in hotels, restaurants and shops that cater to tourists. Why a hotel that is already getting my money for a room wants to make a couple of more bucks off me by squeezing me on some small money exchange I do not know, but I do know they do it. Hotels and the like are very convenient places to change money, and are usually open for exchange business days and hours the banks are closed, so consider them in a pinch. Otherwise, change somewhere else.

Count it Twice

Be sure to count carefully. In most places currency has the denomination written out in numbers, such as “100”. In a few places (though mostly on coins) the denomination is only seen in the host language. Take a moment to familiarize yourself with the new money, its colors and denominations, so you don't accidentally get short changed, or hand over the equivalent of $100 while buying $3 worth of ice cream..

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