I am currently in Mexico visiting my family and on my way here I made a small experiment to find the best exchange rates.
- How to get a decent exchange rate?
- is it better going to an exchange office or to use the ATM?
- What if I paid by card whenever I can
So the little experiment was like this. I flew from Krakow to Brussels. I stayed one night and the next day I flew to Cancun. I needed to exchange zlotys to euros or even dollars because in Cancún dollars are accepted.
I exchanged 100 EUR in an exchange office. Another 100 EUR using the ATM and finally I paid by card in Brussels in the supermarket and to get my train tickets to the airport.
1 – Exchange office
I went one exchange office inside the train station in Krakow. All of them have similar rates must say. The difference for 100 euros was no more than 10 zl between places. I would definitely avoid any office in the airport for obvious reasons. The worst possible rates.
2 – Withdraw money from the ATM
I have a debit card and my bank allows me to withdraw money from Euronet ATMs with no fee. Some of them have double currency. Zloty and euros. So I decided to get euros considering the no fee advantage.
3 – Pay by card when possible
Last but no least. I decided to pay by card in Brussels everything I could from train tickets to food and see the exchange rate later in my bank account.
Note: All of this happened in the exactly same day.
- Exchange office – The exchange rate was 100 EUR for 430 zl.
- ATM – Surprisingly the rate was 100 EUR for 477 zl. Daaamn huge difference of 40 zl (10 EUR).
- Paying by card – For 32,64 euros that I spent on Carrefour I paid 148.86 zl resulting in an exchange rate of 100 EUR for 453,012 zl.
To be honest. I am surprised. I thought the bank wouldn’t charge me that much money. At the airport in Krakow that same day the exchange rate was 100 euros for 485 zl.
I didn’t withdraw money in Brussels because for sure the exchange rate will be lower and a possible commission of your bank for using an external ATM.
In conclusion: Get your dollars or euros in the city before going to the airport and taking the airplane.