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Travelex Is One Of The Biggest Thieves In Travel

I get hosed by Travelex … again.

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AUCKLAND, New Zealand- I found myself with 135 New Zealand dollars in my pocket as I moved towards the security gate at the airport in Auckland. Shit. That’s over $100 US — enough to get me significantly hosed at the currency exchange counter.

Now, some airports have competing currency exchange operations, which keeps them honest and the rates competitive, while other airports just have Travelex.

Travelex is a global currency exchange chain who are some of the most onerous over-the-table thieves in travel.

Currency exchange operations usually make money in one of two ways: they charge a slightly unfavorable exchange rate and pocket the difference or they charge a commission.

Travelex does both to extremes.

In a market value exchange I would have received 416 Malaysian ringgit for those 135 New Zealand dollars ,but via Travelex I only received 340.

Now I expect to lose a little when exchanging cash at the airport — it’s the price you pay for the convenience (or your absentmindedness for not doing it somewhere else). But losing 76 ringgit — around US$18, or 18% of the initial transaction value is extortion.

The breakdown looked like this:

Travelex gave a 2.77 ringgit to the NZ dollar exchange rate when the official rate was 3.09 and then charged a NZ$12 commission on top of this.

It should be one or the other: a poor exchange rate or a commission, not both.

But I was unable to complain, as Travelex enjoys a monopoly at the Auckland airport. It was either get hosed by them or leave with $100 worth of useless cash.

I ate it.


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Filed under: Money, New Zealand, Travel Diary, Travel Warnings

About the Author:

I am the founder and editor of Vagabond Journey. I’ve been traveling the world since 1999, through 91 countries. I am the author of the book, Ghost Cities of China and have written for The Guardian, Forbes, Bloomberg, The Diplomat, the South China Morning Post, and other publications. has written 3720 posts on Vagabond Journey. Contact the author.

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VBJ is currently in: New York City

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