Change money on holiday

Exchange money in Germany or on holiday? We’ll show you how you can save cash when changing currencies.
If you don’t go on holiday in Europe, it’s often not easy: other currencies and strange customs regulations make holiday planning difficult for individual travellers. One is quickly confronted with the question “Where should I change money? Exchange fees, poor exchange rates and fraudsters – you can do just about anything wrong. But if you do everything right, you’ll save 5, 10 or even 20 percent! Money that can be invested in great souvenirs or even in the next holiday. And so it goes:

Plan the money exchange already at home

First try to get an overview of the current exchange rate in your holiday destination. The best way to do this is to use a currency converter (visit for more details). So you do not only get a feeling for the current value of the currency, but you can perhaps already identify a current trend for the rate. If the currency falls against the Euro, it is advisable to pay hotel bills and other liabilities immediately. If, on the other hand, the exchange rate rises (i.e. for one euro you get more of the foreign currency every day), it may be worth waiting for the exchange of foreign currencies.

The global currency markets have become much more volatile in recent years, which means that the exchange rate fluctuates more and more from day to day. Within a few weeks, the exchange rate can also rise by five or ten percent. If you choose a favourable time for the exchange, your holiday will be correspondingly more favourable (here you will find an overview of the exchange rate trend of common currency rates).

Keep in mind that there are also countries whose currencies are so weak that cash transactions are often carried out in foreign currencies. In some countries, US dollars, but also euros, are welcome foreign currencies, with which you can also pay cash at favourable rates. In Cuba, for example, you could pay in US dollars for many years. Many Germans certainly remember the Intershop shops in the former GDR, where you could only pay with D-Mark, but not with DDR-Mark.

When to exchange money?

Exchanging cash for your holiday

If you are travelling to an exotic holiday destination, it can often make sense to exchange some cash at home. There is usually at least one exchange office at every airport that can offer you an acceptable exchange rate. Especially for the taxi ride from the airport to the hotel you will need some cash. In fact, the exchange offices at large airports are usually the best alternative, as there is a great demand, but also a lot of competition and so cheap exchange rates are provided. But if the final airport is too small, there may not be an exchange office at all.

In such a case, you can exchange cash at any bank in Germany. But beware: especially for more unusual currencies, Sparkassen & Co often do not offer a good exchange rate and possibly even a high exchange fee.

In the past, the rule was that you had to exchange strong currencies in your home country and weak ones in your holiday destination. But the times are long gone. The internationalisation of the financial markets has ensured that you almost always receive the cheaper or at least a comparable exchange rate at your destination. Why should the savings bank around the corner keep large quantities of British pounds, US dollars or Norwegian kroner in stock? This is usually not the case and the cash exchange service is often very expensive.

You should therefore only change money in advance if you have legitimate concerns that you will not find a local exchange office after your arrival. Please also bear in mind that it can sometimes take a few days for your bank to supply you with cash in foreign currency and plan this time with a little buffer to start your journey. Usually, only the very large branches have the most common currencies in stock.

In rare cases it may make sense to exchange larger amounts of cash for another reason, even if the exchange in Germany is associated with high fees and a bad exchange rate. If, for example, there are indications that the exchange rate will fall significantly by the time you go on holiday, it may be worth exchanging cash in Germany! In this case, compare the interbank rate with the rate at your branch and add the fees. If the resulting difference is smaller than the exchange rate fluctuation you expect, then (and only then) the early cash exchange is worthwhile. If you want to profit from the ups and downs of the currency markets, you will find up-to-date analyses and news about the currency markets in our currency section.

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