For months, I’ve been telling everyone that they can get the best exchange rate from their home country’s currency to the local currency by simply bringing their ATM card and withdrawing money wherever they are. In Bali, for example, the rate I got through the ATM was nearly equivalent to the actual exchange rate, meaning the banks practically made no money from that transaction.
APPARENTLY, the exception to that rule is when you’re exchanging pesos to pounds in London. On September 4, the official exchange rate was PHP 72 to GBP 1, so I almost choked when I withdrew a few hundred pounds from an ATM at Heathrow, checked my bank balance, and realized their rate was 80.65 pesos to a pound! It wasn’t just that particular ATM too, though it was the worst; at an ATM in the Westminster area, I got a rate of 78.92 to a pound.
One more reason to love Scotland: their exchange rates were better. I got 74.52 at one bank and 74.45 at another. Scottish banks, by the way, issue their own notes, and some shop owners in England might refuse to accept them out of confusion, but by law Scottish notes are supposed to be legal tender throughout the United Kingdom.
Before I left the Philippines, I exchanged a few thousand pesos to GBP at Ayala Center Cebu and I got rates that were just slightly better than Scotland’s. Stuff I paid for with a Citi Visa credit card had exchange rates in the 74.90 – 75.00 range.
So, lesson learned at a considerable price: buy British pounds before leaving the Philippines. Or go to Scotland.
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