Crappy Exchange Rates At ATMs In European Airports?

travel tips

I came across an article from Frommer’s a few days back with some pretty crappy news.

According to what I read, at many airports in Europe taking money out is going to cost you a bit more due to some really bad exchange rates.

You must be wondering why…

Pauline Frommer recently co-hosted her radio show with Travel Channel’s Samantha Brown.

During the show, Brown shared some info about what she learned when she recently flew to Germany. She found out that the only ATMs available at the airport were run by the currency exchange company Travelex not a bank.

Pretty crazy, right…

According to the article, “Investigating it further, she learned that Travelex has managed to boot all of the bank ATMs out of the airports of Europe“. I wondered if this could really be true.

The article states that when landing at major European airports you’re only option for taking out euros or pounds will be by going to a currency exchange counter or an ATM ran by them.

Kim and I always try to have a small amount of Euros at home for future trips. Rather than bothering with finding an ATM and/ or waiting on a line, we could head out once we get our bags. As long as we have enough money to get to our hotel, we then just take out money in town.

Frommer’s shares some other travel tips on how to prepare for these poor exchange rates given by currency exchange places.

Click here to check out the article from Frommer’s.

Frommers’s also mentions an Airfarewatchdog article from December (which I somehow misssed) which goes into a bit more detail about these European Airpot ATM problems.

With Airfarewatchdog’s article being over 2 weeks old, I’m wondering if any of you have heard about this or experienced poor ATM exchange rates in European airports?

8 thoughts on “Crappy Exchange Rates At ATMs In European Airports?

  1. This is a giant scam, just like the “dynamic exchange” b.s. with credit cards. And, it isn’t just a “bit more”, but a lot more.

  2. It’s not true. Period. I don’t know to which specific airport she flew in Germany, so I cannot comment on any specific airport. But to give you some examples:

    – Got cash from ABN Amro, Rabobank and ING Bank (three Dutch banks) at Schiphol/Amsterdam Airport
    – In Spain, La Caixa (Spanish bank) is available at El Prat/Barcelona Airport
    – In Munich, got money from Commerzbank (German bank)

    Living in Europe, I’ve used many different airports and at most of them, I got cash. I’ve never seen an airport that exclusively has one bank supplying the ATMs.

  3. Gene- If it is true, then it will be a lot more (or less if you look at it the other way).

    JMR- Thanks for the info! This is great news. The last time we took cash out at a European airport was this past August in Bucharest. Not a city I’d consider to be major.

    1. To add a comment to my own: as European I don’t deal with exchange rates, I can get euros without the banks being allowed to charge me extra for being in another country.

      But, for those that need to exchange money, I wouldn’t advise to do this at the airport. Probably it’s common sense, but exchange rates tend to be much better when looking around a bit in the city center. Or better: just outside that center 🙂

  4. My wife and I avoid airport ATMS altogether. We found better exchange rates (and more privacy) at our destination town.
    We also keep a few hundred $ worth of several foreign currencies so that we dont feel pressure right aware to go get cash when we land.

  5. Travelex ATMs automatically offers the options of using their “own” rate, or “take a chance” with the bank rate. 99.99999% of the time the bank rate is lower. However, it’s not a true scam since you can opt-out of it, but to the the most of the general public they would not know the difference.

  6. Just flew into Prague 3 weeks ago.

    The only ATM’s in the baggage claim area were owned by Travelex. Of course you could exchange your Euro’s, Dollars, and Pounds at the nearby currency exchange desk— also operated by Travelex.

    So is there is some truth in the story of Travelex buying up European airport ATM’s…

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