Who Uses Forex Anymore?

washington dc by wayan
Photo by Wayan

This blurry photo of a Travelex currency exchange office at Dulles Airport makes me wonder:

Who uses foreign exchange bureaus anymore?

With the global spread of ATM machines and debit/credit cards, there is not a need for travelers to change money in transit. Just grab it on arrival at the destination airport. Its way faster and cheaper than forex.

Trust me, I know how to travel international.

Married, mortgaged, and soon to be a father, Wayan Vota is in the fast lane to mid-life respectability – until the day his brood finds his intimate journal of global traveling and curses him with the ever-eternal reply “I’m gonna be just like you, Dad!”

6 thoughts on “Who Uses Forex Anymore?

  1. I have found myself needing cash for a cab or something and without a working ATM and have used these things abroad. You have to admit – not much works in Northeast Thailand unless there’s a water buffalo attached to one end.

  2. Knowing how to travel international apparently doesn’t confer knowledge of how to link to external websites :)

  3. I’m always stuck with the “what do I do with the currency” once I get back to the US? I use either American Express Travel or Forex to turn it back in to US currency – and then do an incredibly painful calculation to show my company what they owe me for the exchange loss.

    But getting currency? I agree completely, always hit an ATM. The exchange rate is MUCH better than you get at any currency office.

  4. Jonathan,

    I always try to spend down to the last bit of foreign currency with the goal of less than $5 left when I leave the country. That I usually give to someone kind I see on the airplane or when in Laos, tossed off the second floor of the airport waiting area to watch a few hundred kip in 10 kip notes flutter to the happy crowd while yelling “Merry Christmas”.

    I thought this the best strategy till I saw someone with a glass coffee table stuffed full of all the money the couple collected from global trips. I then had regret – for about 10 seconds.

  5. When I traveled around many less developed countries in the Middle East, I had to use cash for the majority of my expenses. A credit and debit card was important to have with me – but how many street vendors and small restaurants take credit cards? Even many hostels prefer cash. And don’t forget about baksheesh… can’t give out your credit card for that.

    Even worse, hitting up an ATM to do cash conversion isn’t always the best. In Egypt the entire banking system was down for three days while I was traveling, and no ATMs worked. It’s good to come with cash, depending on where you’re traveling.