Atlanta, home to the Hawks, Falcons, Braves - and your next trip.
Whether you’re travelling to Atlanta to catch a game, visiting Martin Luther King, Jr’s birthplace, popping in for a business trip, or studying abroad, you’re going to need some cash in your pocket.
To make the most of your visit, you’ll need to know how to avoid being ripped off when you exchange your cash. Figuring this out in a new city is never easy - but don’t worry, we’ve done the research for you.
Here’s our guide to avoiding the scams and finding the best places to exchange your cash in Atlanta.
Wherever in the world you want to exchange cash, you’ll need to check and make sure that you're not being ripped off.
Start with finding an online currency converter to tell you the current mid-market rate for the currencies you want to exchange. Because trading happens around the clock, rates will constantly fluctuate. But that mid-market exchange rate you’ll find online is the real rate - it’s the rate banks use on the global financial trading market.
Rates for individuals are usually less favourable, but by comparing the exchange rates you’re offered to the real rates you’ll find online, you can make sure you get the best deal. Just make sure to keep an eye out for extra charges and fees hidden in poor exchange rates.
Another way to avoid tourist traps is to skip the exchange services in and around your airport and hotel. Although the services are conveniently located, they tend to charge a premium for it. If you're in dire need of some cash for a taxi from the airport, then exchange only the cash you think you’ll need and head into town to find a better rate for the rest.
If convenience is important, ATMs may be your best bet if you’re educated on how to use them abroad.
A better option when you’re travelling for a short time is to use ATMs, but you’ll still have a few things you’ll need to look out for.
Ask in advance if your bank has a partnership with a U.S. bank. It pays to check in advance if your home bank has a partnership with any banks operating in Atlanta. If they do, you may be able to withdraw cash without extra fees by sticking with your partner banks’ ATMs.
When given the option, choose to be charged in the local currency. Often, if you use a foreign bank card, ATMs will ask if you want to be charged for the transaction in your home currency. It’s best to decline this offer - you’ll want to be charged in the local currency to get the best exchange rates, otherwise the bank will choose a poor exchange rate for you and you’ll end up paying more than you expected.
Don’t exchange more cash than you think you’ll need. Being stuck with leftover bills at the end of your trip is a bad idea. You'll end up being charged twice, and smaller denominations often aren’t even accepted. Spend what you have and enjoy your time abroad.
If you have cash jingling in your pocket and need to exchange it, make sure you’re not ripped off in the process.
All exchange services will take a cut, whether that's in the form of fees and charges they tell you about upfront, or by offering a relatively poor exchange rate and taking it that way. Make sure you know the real deal you're getting before you choose which service to use.
We’ve gathered a few you might want to check out.
Travelex has several branches in four of Atlanta’s airports and another in the city itself.
|Lenox Square Mall: 3393 Peachtree Road NE Atlanta||(404) 841-9410|
|Hartsford International Airport: 13 locations throughout the airport||various|
|Charlotte Douglas International Airport: Arrivals, Atrium & Concourse D||various|
|Memphis International Airport: Delta Ticket Lobby B||(901) 922-8090|
|Raleigh Durham International Airport: 2 locations in Terminal 2||various|
Branches are open 7 days a week - check online or call ahead to the branch you plan to visit. Airport opening hours may vary according to the flight schedule.
Altour offers currency exchange as well as a range of travel-related services
|3384 Peachtree Road NE, Suite 150 (American Express Travel)||(404) 262-7561|
Check with the branch before visiting.
If you're looking to exchange your cash during office hours, there are exchange desks in 14 branches of Wells Fargo banks in Atlanta.
|979 Virginia Ave NE||(404) 897-3750|
|2204 Peachtree Road NW||(404) 350-6901|
These are two of the main spots. You can find a full list of Atlanta branches on their website.
Most branches have limited hours on Saturdays and are closed on Sundays, so call ahead if you plan on visiting.
Alternatively - for an even better deal - use Transferwise. If you have a USD bank account, or know someone who does, you can transfer money between accounts using the real mid market exchange rate. This means no worrying about hidden fees or scouring for the best exchange services. No need to waste your time abroad worrying about scams.