My mom arrived with Canadian Money thinking she could exchange it at any number of exchange booths through France.
To our surprise we have scouted around for days, to find very few options. In Hungary they are on every corner with highly competitive rates.
First Option – Paris Airport
The Paris airport charged mom 6€ to exchange 95€ at 1.419 exchange rate. Up to 150€ the rate is the same which means for mom to exchange $1000 Canadian would cost an additional 36€ in fees, not to mention the high rate of return. The national exchange rate is 1.28. It should be criminal to charge tourists interest, plus added interest, plus a service charge. Mom was stuck at the airport for 5 hours waiting for her connector flight and a girl has got to eat, leaving her without any choices.
Second Option – The Bank
The bank rate for people entering off the street for $1000 Canadian to exchange is 50€ service charge, plus 1.419 exchange rate.
The bank rates for people with an account at the bank are also 1.419 except the service charge is waved. Which would save my mom 50€, making it a better exchange rate than the exchange centers in tourist areas around France. i would put her money in my account and gladly save her the fees.
Third Option – The Post Office
Beziers post office is the nearest to Capestang with bank services. They offered 1.38 rate of exchange, plus a 5€ service charge, giving my mom the best rate around.
Save yourself the legwork and go straight to the post office. If you are staying with family or friends that happen to have an account at the post office, I believe the service charge is also lifted.
Large Sums of Money
When exchanging large sums of money, like enough to buy a house or car I would suggest a third party exchange company. World First is popular.
Although, check with you bank first in the country of your origins, as sometimes they will match the rate or close but wave the service charges making it a better deal. Shopping around could mean thousands in your pocket.
The most simplistic way to travel through France is with your bank card. Take money out via bank machine from your bank’s affiliate and save on high fees. The exchange rates are competitive, just watch your bank fees.
Credit unions are usually the lowest rates if you have a credit union in Canada. Trick is to take out money from a machine all at once and not use your card for individual purchases. That could add up to hundreds on vacation.