Best places to exchange currency in San Diego

TransferWise content team
03.04.17
4 minute read

Located not far from the Mexico border, San Diego is the oldest town in California. With it’s natural beauty, pleasant climate and awesome attractions; it is easy to see why San Diego is a popular travel and work destination. If you’re traveling from outside of the U.S., when you arrive into San Diego you’ll be needing some USD to get by. Here’s our guide to the best places to exchange your money in San Diego.

Things to know before exchanging your money

Know the actual exchange rate

The real exchange rate is the midpoint between the buy and sell rates on the global currency markets. This real rate is known as the interbank or mid-market rate exchange rate. To ensure you receive the best exchange rate in San Diego, keep a close eye on the rates by checking the TransferWise currency converter. Calculate the difference between an offered tourist rate and the mid-market rate to determine any extra fees disguised in the exchange rate. Take into account any upfront fees to decide on the fairest conversion deal.

Remember - exchange rates always change

Exchange rates constantly fluctuate as currencies are traded. Put simply, there are currency traders around the world who buy and sell each currency. This impacts the demand and supply of a specific country's currency which changes the exchange rates of the currency traded. Other factors also affect rates, such as political and economic decisions and events. You can keep track of changes in rates by signing up to our rate tracker tool for exchange rate notifications.

Research your home bank’s partnerships before you leave

Ask your home bank if they have any partnerships with local banks operating in San Diego. If they do, you may be able to withdraw cash from a partner’s ATM for a reduced or waived fee. An ATM is a good way to access your money while overseas. Be sure to notify your home bank of your travel plans, to avoid having your card blocked due to suspicious activity.

Always choose to be charged in the local currency

When using an ATM, always choose to be charged in the local currency. If you choose to be charged in your home currency, you’re allowing the ATM’s bank to perform the conversion for you. This will usually result in a poorer exchange rate and an extra fee. Choose to be charged in USD, to avoid paying hidden exchange fees to another bank.

Avoid airport and hotel currency exchanges

Apart from the convenience they offer, you won’t get the best foreign exchange in San Diego from airport or hotel currency exchange options. Instead, let the hotel bill you in USD and let your credit card do the exchange. If you’re in desperate need of some cash, exchange a small amount at the airport and leave the remainder for when you go to town and compare options. Sadly the best currency exchange in San Diego won't be found at your convenience!

Spend your money before leaving

The trick is to withdraw or exchange only as much money as you're going to need for your trip. Re-exchanging your money back will mean you’re being charged twice for conversion. If you have leftover cash at the end of your trip, spend it at the airport or set it aside for your next trip to the U.S.

Where to exchange money in San Diego

Beware the places listed below will still charge you fees, either visible or hidden charges in the exchange rate. Before choosing an exchange bureau, check the offered tourist rate against the current mid-market rate using an online currency converter. Armed with this knowledge, you're better able to obtain the best money exchange in San Diego.

Currency Bureau Address Contact Information
Travelex (Down Town) Westfield Horton Plaza, 177 ; Horton Plaza San Diego, CA, 92101 619-235-0901
Travelex (Fashion Valley) 7007 Friars Road Suite 593 San Diego, CA, 92108 619-542-1173
Travelex (University) 4417 La Jolla Village Drive /# N17 San Diego, CA, 92122 858-457-2412
Currency Exchange International Westfield Mission Valley, 1640 Camino Del Rio N, San Diego, CA 92108 619-574-0133

The bottom line

Whenever you exchange currency in San Diego, or anywhere abroad, money is being made. But sadly not by you. If you still prefer to convert at an in-person exchange branch, be sure to check their offered rate against the mid-market rate.

ATMs usually offer you the best foreign exchange rates in San Diego. Remember always choose to be charged in the local currency as opposed to your home currency. As you’ll be charged per ATM transaction, aim to make one or two larger withdrawals instead of several smaller ones.

Better yet, if either you or a friend have access to a USD bank account, 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 the U.S., all those nasty international bank fees magically disappear.

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

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