If I can just get out of the airport then I’ve made it. That applies to dodging taxis and skipping the exchange counter.
Fresh off of an Easyjet that defines no frills, I am in Athens waiting for my companion to arrive. I reached for my trusty Charles Schwab to withdraw few euros only to find that the damn funds still haven’t transferred. Failing to load Chuck is as big a problem for me as remembering to check visa requirements.
I asked what the exchange would be for $40, enough to make it through the evening, and was told it was 27 euros. That’s more than ten euros short of the interbank trading rate and roughly an $11 fee.
As a master bargainer, I work too hard to quickly surrender my money to the airport fx crooks. All I really needed was 10 euros which would get me and Ms. TPOL on the bus (not the 55 euro ripoff taxi) to the city center. From there I could walk to the hotel.
Like a points hustler who realizes he has a spare lounge pass saving him from commingling with as Sir Richard Branson calls them, them, ‘the riff raff’, I remembered that I keep my trusty currency baggy with me at all times. In it, I have coins and papers from all around the world that I keep for situations like this instead of exchanging it back to my home currency.
The bag of goodies continued 3 euros and 20 cents and small denominations of RMB. After haggling with the fx counter person, I managed to walk away with less RMB than I had started but enough euros to take the bus.
Curiously, the RMB rate was far truer to the interbank rate than the USD.
So next time you think to exchange your scraps of rupiah or tugrik I suggest you only do so for the latter. Otherwise, the fx boogeyman will catch you slippin’.