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Caveat emptor: Stanley Moss reminds us that exchanging money at airports can be a rotten deal for the traveller

On my way into the UK last month I urgently needed some sterling at Gatwick Airport, so I walked up to the Moneycorp window and plopped down CHF 500 to change. The posted exchange rate by these folks was 1·6986. I hadn’t checked the currency rates in the paper, my bad. The clerk told me I’d get £290·37, which seemed low, but I was in a hurry to get into town and needed the cash, so I took it. Later, I Googled the day’s exchange rate only to find it officially posted at 1·327, which would have equalled £378·65. On my receipt the exchange rate was clearly noted, including an added commission fee of £3·99. So there was no duplicity on the part of Moneycorp. They openly listed their rate and their commission. But note that the difference is a whopping £88·28. Thus I surrendered about a US$100 value for the privilege of this transaction.
   Caveat emptor: changing money at the airport can easily cost you 20 per cent. If you must, change as little as possible with these pirates—and when you travel, use your cash card in ATMs. Better yet, stick with your credit card when travelling abroad: you always get the day’s best exchange rate. And, Moneycorp, that’s the last time you’ll be seeing me.—Stanley Moss, Travel Editor, Lucire

Check out Stanley Moss’s latest travel story from the 7th arrondissement in Paris here.