Best places to exchange currency in Barcelona

27.03.17
4 minute read
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In many ways being in Barcelona feels like being inside a work of art. The city is a masterpiece, drawing millions of tourists yearly to marvel at its design and enjoy its offerings. Be it architecture, football, food or art, there’s something for everyone in Barcelona. Which is why you’re going to want your money to go as far as possible by choosing the best currency deal there is.

Things to know before exchanging your money

Know the actual exchange rate

Currency exchange doesn’t need to be as complicated as a Dali painting but doing your homework will certainly help. Keep up-to-date with the mid-market exchange rate, which is the real exchange rate you’ll find on google or Xe.com. This is the exchange rate in its purest form, before any commission is added in.

Exchange bureaus and retail banks, on the other hand, will offer an exchange rate lower than mid-market. Extra fees are added into this margin and they’ll usually also charge another upfront fee. Use the real mid-market rate as a benchmark to compare how fair an offered rate is. You can check the live rate via an online currency converter.

Remember - exchange rates always change

Exchange rates will vary for many reasons. Fluctuations in the rate, whether mild or more noticeable, can be caused by political and economic decisions and other external events. If you can keep track of what’s happening on both a global and local scale while in Barcelona, you may be able to determine an ultimate time to exchange your money.

Research your home bank’s partnerships before you leave

If your bank has an international partner with a local bank in Barcelona, you might be able to withdraw money from their ATMs for free or for a reduced ATM fee. It’s a good idea to check with your home bank whether they have any partnerships before you leave for Barcelona. At the same time, notify your bank that you’ll be travelling to avoid having your card suspended while using it out of the country.

Always choose to be charged in the local currency

Withdrawing EUR from an ATM is a convenient and generally cheaper way of accessing your money while in Barcelona. When the ATM asks how you wish to be charged, always choose to be charged in the local currency. Allowing the ATM to charge you in your home currency means they’ll apply a poorer exchange rate and charge extra fees for their service. This question may be worded differently - whether you wish to withdraw money with or without conversion. Choose to continue without conversion as you want the transaction to be charged in EUR. Remember this rule to ensure you save on conversion fees.

Avoid airport and hotel currency exchanges

Airports and hotels are conveniently located, and they operate in a captive market with minimal competition. This is reflected in the higher fees they charge and poorer exchange rates they offer. Avoid exchanging your money in these locations, but if you are in dire need of cash at the time, change what you need and wait until you’re in a more central location before changing the rest. Or, for an easier and fairer option, withdraw EUR directly from a trusted ATM operator.

Spend your money before leaving

Plan ahead so you can spend all the EUR you’ve converted before leaving. If you exchange leftover money back to your home currency, you’ll end up paying conversion fees twice. It’s especially important to spend residual coins, as these will not be accepted at an exchange office. So budget well and spend what you change, or set aside your unspent EUR for your next venture into the EU zone.

Where to exchange money in Barcelona

There’s no such thing as a ‘no commission’ currency exchange. If the fee isn't presented upfront, it’ll be absorbed into the exchange rate being offered. You can determine the real cost of a transfer by comparing their rate to the live mid-market rate. Below are some in-person exchange options in Barcelona.

Currency Bureau Address Contact Information
Exact change Av. de la Catedral, 1, 08002 Barcelona +34 933 01 77 28
Ria – La Rambla La Rambla, 56, 08002 Barcelona +34 933 02 86 96
Money Exchange Carrer de Mata, 1, 08004 Barcelona +34 934 43 38 03
Checkpoint Barcelona La Rambla, 15, 08002 Barcelona +34 902 01 24 13

The bottom line

With some research and knowledge of the mid-market exchange rate, you’ll be well prepared to seek out the fairest currency conversion options in Barcelona. If using an exchange bureau, be sure to check their offered rate against the real rate via an online currency converter. Alternatively, you’ll usually pay less in fees by withdrawing cash directly from an ATM.

Better yet, if either you or a friend have access to a EUR bank account in Barcelona, use TransferWise and make the transfer ahead of time. Not only does TransferWise use the real mid-market exchange rate to convert your money (which almost always beat the banks), but since your currency is received and sent via local banking systems in both your home country and in Spain, all those nasty international bank fees magically disappear.

TransferWise is the smart, new way to send money abroad.

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