Best Currency Exchange Services

Bank of America has the most competitive rates

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Couple checking currency exchange rates


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The Rundown

Whether you’re planning a trip to Canada, Mexico, or overseas, you’ll need to exchange currency to ensure a smooth travel experience. Unfortunately, currency exchange services available at airports and hotels tend to impose high rates and can waste valuable time at your destination. On the other hand, the best currency exchange services offer low fees or no fees as well as competitive exchange rates that are at or close to the true mid-market rate. 

We reviewed several banks and other currency exchange services to find the best deals for TripSavvy readers. Here are our top picks.

Best Overall: Bank of America

Bank of America

Bank of America

Why We Chose It: As our top pick, Bank of America stands out because of its fee-free currency exchanges, competitive exchange rates, and quick delivery options.

Pros
  • No fee for ordering currency online

  • Lower exchange rate than many other banks

  • Users can choose to receive funds in small, large, or mixed denominations

Cons
  • New customers must pick up currency from a local branch

Bank of America is a well-respected financial institution that offers its clients currency exchange services online, in-branch, and via mobile app. Customers with a Bank of America checking or savings account can order up to $10,000 in foreign currency online over the course of 30 days. However, clients must stop into a local branch for orders over $10,000. Bank of America offers the added flexibility of choosing small, large, or mixed denominations. 

Customers pay roughly an $8 delivery fee on foreign currency orders less than $1,000 and may opt for a standard or next business day delivery. While orders under $1,000 can be mailed to a customer’s home, orders over $1,000 are not eligible for home delivery and must be picked up at a branch. 

In contrast to many currency exchange services, Bank of America doesn’t charge a fee for ordering foreign currency online. Still, customers will get an exchange rate slightly higher than the true mid-market rate—or the average rate agreed upon when conducting a foreign exchange transaction.

Best for Quick Delivery: Citibank

Citibank

Citibank

Why We Chose It: Citibank offers next-day delivery to homes, offices, and local branches as well as thousands of ATMs worldwide, making it an excellent option for travelers who need to exchange currency quickly and conveniently.

Pros
  • Delivers foreign currencies to homes, offices, and local branches

  • Provides exchange between more than 50 foreign currencies

  • Also lets customers access money at thousands of ATMs in more than 40 countries

Cons
  • Requires a Citibank checking or savings account

  • Does not accept cash orders

Originally founded in 1812, Citibank is a well-established and well-reviewed bank that offers its customers currency exchange services for more than 50 foreign currencies.

While Citibank does not accept cash orders, clients with a Citibank checking or savings account can order exchanged currency over the phone or at a local branch. Those who order currency for delivery to their home or office can receive it as soon as the next day. Citibank even offers Priority or Saturday overnight shipping for an added fee. 

Like other banks, Citibank’s currency conversions are done at competitive exchange rates, and there are no service fees for clients with the Citigold or Citi Priority Account Package. Customers who have another type of account must pay roughly a $5 service fee on transactions under $1,000. Returning unused foreign currency is also easy, and is free for exchanges over $1,000. For those who prefer to travel without cash, Citibank debit cardholders can access their money at thousands of ATMs in more than 40 countries.

Best ATM Access: Capital One

Capital One

Capital One

Why We Chose It: Those who prefer using debit cards while traveling overseas will benefit from Capital One’s large network of fee-free ATMs.

Pros
  • No fees for customers with 360 products

  • Customers do not need to notify Capital One of their travel plans

  • Features a network of more than 70,000 fee-free ATMs

Cons
  • Customers with non-360 products may have to pay a fee when withdrawing from international ATMs

Many people find traveling with cash cumbersome, but not all merchants and vendors accept credit cards. Capital One makes it easy to access cash while traveling through its large network of more than 70,000 fee-free Capital One, MoneyPass, and Allpoint ATMs. 

Not only are Capital One’s ATMs plentiful, but customers with a 360 product also aren’t charged any additional fees when using their debit card abroad. Keep in mind, though, that customers with non-360 products may incur a $2 fee, plus 3% of the total transaction amount when withdrawing from an international ATM. Customers who prefer to pay with a card instead of cash can use their Capital One cards everywhere MasterCard is accepted. 

To improve the customer experience and simplify travel, Capital One doesn’t require its users to notify the bank when they plan to travel—so you don’t have to worry about your card getting declined for an out-of-area purchase. Capital One customers can also take advantage of the company’s top-rated mobile app that makes it easy to keep tabs on available cash while traveling.

Best for Transferring Money: Wise

Wise

Wise

Why We Chose It: Wise makes it easy to transfer foreign currency at the true mid-market rate because of its high transfer limits, user-friendly mobile app, and flexible payment options.

Pros
  • Does not charge an exchange rate above the true mid-market rate

  • Users can send payments from numerous account types

  • High transfer limits

Cons
  • Slow delivery times compared to other providers

  • Customers can only send money to bank accounts

Formerly TransferWise, Wise is a foreign currency transfer platform that lets customers send money to people and accounts in different countries. So, whether you want to exchange currency to pay someone else—or you’re an ex-pat with an account in a foreign country—Wise makes it easy to make exchanges between more than 1,000 country combinations and across roughly 57 currencies. 

Sending money is also more flexible than with many exchanges and can be completed via bank account, debit card, credit card, Apple Pay, and Google Pay. Depending on the destination, some minimum transfers are as low as roughly $0.93; maximums are about $15,000 per day for most Americans using ACH and $1 million for transfers that are funded with a bank wire transfer. Currency exchanges are made at the true mid-market rate, so users don’t pay the markup found at many exchange services; per-transfer fees are also low. 

That said, deposits can only be made to bank accounts, though some providers also offer cash pickup locations for those who don’t have a bank account. Note: Most deposits are made within one or two business days.

Best Fee-free Transfer: OFX

OFX

OFX

Why We Chose It: Unlike other foreign currency transfer platforms, OFX stands out because it does not charge a fee for transfers.

Pros
  • Charges zero transfer fees

  • Supports transfers among a network of more than 115 banks with 55 currencies

  • Offers competitive exchange rates compared to many banks

Cons
  • Users cannot send funds via cash, credit card, check, or bank draft

Regulated by the US Department of the Treasury Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, OFX offers fee-free transfers between more than 55 currencies and across 115 banks in its global network.

So, if you want to send money to a friend, or to your own foreign bank account, OFX is a safe and affordable option. OFX also offers more competitive exchange rates than major banks like Bank of America, CitiBank, JP Morgan Chase, and Wells Fargo. The platform’s user-friendly website also provides customers an easy-to-use currency converter. 

Unlike other platforms, transfers can only be initiated via wire transfer from a bank account or via ACH direct debit; funding is not available via cash, credit card, check, or bank draft. Users can track transfers online or with the OFX mobile app, and most exchanges take one to two business days, though this can vary by country.

Final Verdict

Even the best vacation can get derailed if you run out of cash or lose your credit card. Currency exchange services simplify foreign currency by providing low fees, competitive rates, and quick turnaround. Likewise, travel-friendly banks let customers access a wide range of foreign ATMs without encountering excessive fees. 

Our best currency exchange service overall, Bank of America, excels because of its low exchange rates, fee-free structure, and home delivery options. Not only does the bank let customers order foreign currency online and in-person, the Mobile Banking App further simplifies the process. 

Frequently Asked Questions

What Are Currency Exchange Services?

Currency exchange services are companies that let customers exchange one currency for another. While some exchange services are located in airports and hotels, others are web-based. Many of these platforms help users exchange and transfer funds to bank accounts in other countries. 

All exchanges are subject to the mid-market rate at the time of the exchange, but most exchange services charge a percentage beyond the true exchange rate. Many currency exchange services also charge an additional fee that’s calculated based on the exchange amount.

Is It Better to Exchange Money at a Bank or Currency Exchange?

If you have the ability to plan ahead, you can typically save money by exchanging currency at a bank or credit union. Exchange rates and fees are often lower than with dedicated exchange services, and some account holders may even get access to a fee-free exchange. Many banks also offer same- or next-day shipping for cash currency, as well as a large network of international ATMs. That said, if you need to exchange currency immediately and don’t have access to an ATM, a currency exchange can help you—albeit at a higher exchange rate. 

What Can I Do With Leftover Foreign Currency?

Many banks accept foreign currency for exchange, though you’ll have to visit a branch to initiate the transaction. Also, keep in mind that banks generally do not accept foreign coins for exchange. Exchange services at airports and hotels may also be willing to exchange foreign currency once you return from a trip. 

Alternatively, you can choose from one of the many charitable organizations—like UNICEF—that accept donations of foreign currency, including change. Or, if you travel often, consider keeping the foreign money so you have it on hand. 

How We Chose the Best Currency Exchange Services

To select the best currency exchange services, we compared 15 banks, exchange companies, and transfer platforms based on available rates, selection of currencies, and additional fees. We also compared providers based on the availability of international ATMs, foreign ATM fees, and the existence of a mobile app for exchanging and/or locating foreign ATMs. Finally, we evaluated customer reviews, the intuitiveness of each website, and delivery options for cash currency exchange.

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