Orlando, Florida is known for being home to Disney World, also known as ‘The Magic Kingdom’. A lot of money goes into creating the ‘magical’ experience. Orlando theme parks are notorious for being expensive, so prepare to spend plenty of cash.
If you’re going to be exchanging foreign currency, you have several options available to you. Here is a summary of what you need to know before you exchange.
Things to know before exchanging your money
Know the actual exchange rate
There's only one ‘real’ exchange rate, which is called the mid-market rate or interbank rate. This is the rate you’ll find on google and which you can check easily via our online currency converter. The exchange rate you’ll see on offer in currency exchange bureaus, airports, hotels, ATMs and banks will usually be lower than mid-market.This is how they make their money - by adding commission into their rate. They may also charge an upfront fee on top of this.
Use the mid-market rate as a base rate for comparison. You’ll be able to calculate just how much extra commission a service is charging by how far their rate deviates from mid-market.
Remember - exchange rates always change
Exchange rates can fluctuate at any moment. Sometimes these fluctuations are small but in other instances, you’ll notice large spikes and drops. Exchange rates change based on global events, economic decisions and many other factors. Look out for large-scale political events and financial news in the region you’re visiting, as big news will almost certainly impact your exchange rates.
Research your home bank’s partnerships before you leave
If your home bank is large enough, they’ll likely have agreements or partnerships with American banks. How does this impact you? Certain partnerships may offer adjacent perks to members. For example, you might be able to withdraw from a certain bank’s ATMs for free. Educate yourself on your options; if given the choice between two ATMs, you might save lots of money from a partner bank.
Always choose to be charged in the local currency
When withdrawing cash from an ATM, choose to be charged in the local currency, as opposed to making the transaction in your home country’s currency. The latter choice means you’re permitting the ATM to make the conversion for you, and they’ll usually charge an extra fee for the service or apply a poorer exchange rate. For a better deal, choose to be charged in USD.
Avoid airport and hotel currency exchanges
You might find it easier to wait until you get to your hotel to exchange your currency. Or, you might think to stop by the currency exchange desk at the airport on your way out. Although these options may seem easy, you’ll pay for the convenience.
Exchange rates in hotels and airports are usually poorer and the commission charges higher. Look instead for an exchange office located in the city centre, where competition drives a better deal. Alternatively, you’re likely to get a fairer rate withdrawing cash directly from an ATM.
Spend your money before leaving
Plan ahead so you use up all the money you’ve exchanged before you leave the US. Otherwise, you’ll end up paying foreign exchange fees twice: first to exchange into dollars, and again to exchange back to your home currency. If you do end up with cash (and particularly coins) at the end of your trip, buy yourself something nice.
Where to exchange money in Orlando
Though in-person exchanges can be expensive, you might still need to use them. Be sure to compare their advertised rates to the mid-market rate to ensure you’re picking the fairest service. Below are some currency exchange bureaus servicing Orlando:
|Currency Bureau||Address||Contact Information|
|Currency Exchange International The Florida Mall, East Shopping Center||8001 S Orange Blossom Trail, Orlando, FL 32809||(407) 854-0860|
|Magic Kingdom Guest Relations Lobby in City Hall||1180 Seven Seas Dr, Lake Buena Vista, FL 32830||(407) 939-5277|
|Currency Exchange International The Mall at Millenia||4200 Conroy Rd, Orlando, FL 32839||(407) 363-3555|
The bottom line
They say that Disney World is “where dreams come true”, but getting ripped off feels more like a nightmare. So don’t waste money from predatory currency exchange bureaus.
If you need money quickly, plan to find an ATM run by a trusted operator. You’ll usually get a fairer exchange rate and lower commission from an ATM than you will at a currency exchange bureau.
ATMs charge a flat-fee for each transaction. So you’re better off making one or two large withdrawals, instead of stopping at an ATM every time you want to go to a new theme park or buy a souvenir.
Better yet, if either you or a friend has access to a USD bank account in Orlando, 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 the U.S., all those nasty international bank fees magically disappear.