Exchanging your money at the Airport: Good or bad? Let's find out!

The lead-up to a holiday is an exciting time, but at EasyFX we also know it involves a lot of preparation. 

One crucial part of preparing for a holiday or international travel is ensuring you have the local currency for your chosen destination

If you're planning to exchange your money at the airport, take a second and read this blog, we explore whether the convenience is truly worth the cost, once and for all. 

Inside of a busy airport full of people walking, eating and shopping.

Table of contents:

Convenience: The pros of exchanging currency at the airport

Airports are specifically designed to cater to the needs of holidaymakers and international travellers, including providing them with somewhere to exchange their currency before their travels.

The benefits of exchanging your currency at an airport include:

Exchanging your money at the airport provides immediate availability

  • Accessibility: Currency exchange kiosks and counters are conveniently located within terminals, making it easy to access them just before departure, or immediately after landing.

  • Extended hours: Unlike banks or local exchange offices with specific working hours, airport currency exchange services typically operate 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. This is particularly beneficial if you arrive at your destination late at night or early in the morning. 

  • No need for advanced planning: If you haven't had time, or opportunity, to exchange currency in advance, currency exchange kiosks at the airport save the effort of finding one elsewhere. 

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Airport exchange kiosks are known for quick transactions

Airport currency exchange kiosks are used to serve people who are often in a rush.

Therefore the kiosks themselves are designed for rapid transactions.

  • Speed: Transactions at airport kiosks are quick and effective, allowing you to exchange your currency without significant delays.

  • Staff knowledge: Staff at these counters are accustomed to handling various currencies and dealing with individuals in a rush, which streamlines the process.

High costs: The cons of airport currency exchange

Unfavourable customer exchange rates

The biggest drawback of airport currency exchange services is the exchange rates: 

  • High margins: Airports often mark up their exchange rates, making them significantly higher than the rates you will find at banks or alternative independent exchange services. 

  • Hidden costs: The advertised exchange rates might not include all the costs, which may result in you receiving less currency than expected.

A closer look at these hidden costs 

In addition to unfavourable exchange rates, airports often impose high fees and commissions:

  • Service fees: Some airport exchange services charge a flat fee, or a percentage of the transaction, which for large currency exchanges, can really add up quickly.

  • Layered costs: In some instances, you may face both a poor exchange rate and a service fee. This will lower the value of the currency you get back. 

Limited competition

Airports usually have limited options for currency exchange and this reduces the competitiveness of the rates and fees that are offered.

  • Fewer competitors: With fewer competitors, the exchange rate services at airports have little incentive to offer competitive rates. 

  • Lack of alternatives: The captive nature of the airport means that people often have no choice but to accept the rates and fees offered by airport exchange kiosks.

Sun setting at an airport runway, a plane is being boarded and a lot of airport staff are working.

Practical tips for exchanging currency for your travel at the airport

We suggest you choose an alternative method of currency exchange if you have the luxury of preparing for your holiday or travels abroad. 

If, for whatever reason, you have no choice but to exchange your money at the airport, consider the following tips: 

Compare before you travel

If possible, check the exchange rates and fees at various locations before your trip. 

For example, you could compare the exchange rates in your starting location, and your final destination, and see which provides the better value. 

Online tools can provide real-time comparisons to help you compare what is being offered vs the value of a currency.

Use ATMs

ATMs usually offer better exchange rates than airport kiosks.

Some banks may charge a fee to withdraw currency, but, with EasyFX's prepaid travel money card, you can make free cash withdrawals from over 2 million ATMs worldwide. 

Pre-order your currency exchange

Some banks and online services give you the option to pre-order foreign currency and have it ready to be collected at an airport of your choice. 

Only exchange small amounts at the airport

If you do have to exchange money at the airport, limit it to a small amount - such as just enough to cover immediate expenses whilst overseas such as transportation or meals.

Once you've reached your destination you can then seek better exchange rates for further cash withdrawals.

Consider these alternatives for your currency exchange

If you do have more time to prepare for your international travels, here are some alternative options to help you make a more informed decision about how to get the most out of your money.

Using a bank to exchange currency


  • Better rates: Banks will offer more competitive exchange rates than airport kiosks. 

  • Security: Transactions through banks are secure and reliable.


  • Limited hours: Banks will typically have limited operating hours, which may not align with your travel schedule. 

  • Possible delays: Exchanging money through banks can sometimes take longer, especially if you are ordering large sums of money. 

Using ATMs to exchange your money


  • Good exchange rates: ATMs generally provide better rates than airport exchange kiosks as they are close to the mid-market rate.

  • Accessibility: ATMs are widely available in cities and most major towns. 


  • Foreign transaction fees: Your bank may charge a fee for using an international ATM, or the ATM provider may impose its own fee. 

  • Card limitations: Not all ATMs accept every type of card and there may be withdrawal limits. 

Using online currency exchange services


  • Competitive exchange rates: Online services offer better, and usually, the best exchange rates available. 

  • Convenience: You can order currency from the comfort of your own home and have it delivered. 


  • Delivery time: If you are ordering currency to your home, or to be picked up from an airport, you will need to plan as delivery can take a few days. 

  • Potential fees: There may be shipping fees or a minimum order requirement when ordering currency online. 

Using a local exchange office


  • Better rates than airport kiosks: Local exchange offices, especially those located in city centres or tourist areas, will more than likely offer more competitive rates than the ones in the airport.

  • Negotiation: Some exchange offices may allow you to negotiate a rate of exchange for your money. 


  • Variable quality: Some local exchange offices won't be as reputable or trustworthy as others, so it's important to do a bit of research here. 

  • Limited availability: If you are travelling to somewhere more rural, these offices may not be around. Take this into account when making arrangements for your travel money. 

Man and women walking through an airport with bags about to board a plane.

Pre-paid travel money cards and how they can help

A prepaid travel money card is a type of payment card specifically designed for you to use when spending money abroad. These cards function similarly to debit or credit cards but have distinct features tailored to meet the needs of international travellers. 

Why you should use a pre-paid travel money card

  • Preloaded funds: You can preload money onto the card before your trip, either online, or via an app

  • Multi-currency capability: You can choose to load multiple currencies onto a travel money card, which will automatically switch to the appropriate currency when a transaction is made - thereby avoiding additional exchange fees. 

  • Fixed exchange rates: When you load money onto your card, the exchange rate will automatically lock in, which ensures you will avoid any fluctuations in currency during your trip. 

  • Global acceptance: Prepaid travel cards are typically issued by major financial networks like Visa or Mastercard, which means they are widely accepted at ATMs and stores around the world.

  • Security: Aside from enhanced security measures, since the cards are prepaid, the maximum loss is limited to the amount loaded onto the card, providing an added layer of financial safety compared to credit or debit cards linked to your normal bank account. 

  • Budgeting control: By preloading a set amount of money, you have more control of your finances.

  • No credit checks: Unlike credit cards, prepaid travel cards don't require a credit check for issuance, making them accessible to a wider range of people. 

  • Minimal fees: Prepaid travel money cards usually come with lower fees compared to traditional credit or debit cards. However, make sure you are aware of the fees associated with certain travel cards when it comes to ATM withdrawals, inactivity, or card reloading. 

Travel money made easy, with EasyFX

Using an EasyFX travel money card offers numerous benefits that will help you avoid any potential issues and high fees for obtaining currency from an airport kiosk.

One of the primary advantages is the favourable exchange rates that we offer, which are much lower than those provided in airports or your usual bank. 

We make sure that you're getting the best value for your money when exchanging currency for international travel. 

With the EasyFX travel money card you can load on multiple currencies, perfect for those planning a multi-destination trip, say goodbye to worrying about obtaining new currency in each new country you visit. 

As an FCA-regulated and authorised financial institution you can have peace of mind that your money is safe and secure, at all times. 

With over 40,000+ happy customers already, the EasyFX travel money card combines efficiency for your international finances with robust security features, making it a perfect travel partner. 

Sign up today, to get your free EasyFX travel money card, or if you'd like to know more, contact our wonderful team, who are always available to answer your travel money questions! 

Should you exchange money at the airport?
Consider convenience vs cost and other alternatives to exchanging currency at the airport for your travels!
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Let us make your foreign exchange, easy.

At EasyFX, our goal is to make international transfers and travel money affordable, smooth, and easy, for everyone. Whether a small transfer or large transaction, or to avoid fees when spending abroad, we can cater to all types through our money transfer app, expert brokers, or travel money card to find you the best rate available, saving you money.

Create an account today to get started!

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Find out if you should exchange your money at the airport!
Exchanging money at an airport for your holiday or travel abroad is convenient but comes at a cost. Explore the pros, cons, and other ways to exchange money.
6 minute read

Let us make your foreign exchange, easy.

At EasyFX, our goal is to make international transfers and travel money affordable, smooth, and easy, for everyone. Whether a small transfer or large transaction, or to avoid fees when spending abroad, we can cater to all types through our money transfer app, expert brokers, or travel money card to find you the best rate available, saving you money.

Create an account today to get started!

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