My European cousins are visiting so we are exchanging currency. How do I calculate an exchange rate that removes the cost for the middle man? An example would be appreciated. Thank you

  • 3
    Just use the google rate
    – Midavalo
    Commented Apr 11, 2023 at 2:24
  • best conversion without middle man cost can be achieved with Revolut, but it requires your cousin to download the app on their phone and to sign up for it. it takes only few minutes, but it is a services trusted by millions for the best exchange rates.
    – Fed
    Commented Apr 11, 2023 at 6:49
  • Getting a no-FX (foreign exchange) fee debit card and withdrawing at an ATM will be the cheapest way to exchange money Commented Apr 11, 2023 at 7:33
  • 7
    We are talking about an informal exchange between friends or relatives, which is the cheapest way if both are honest, and no need to sign up to whatever online service.
    – Willeke
    Commented Apr 11, 2023 at 7:55
  • 1
    @NicolasFormichella: true for some countries but there are also notable exceptions. Argentina and Bali come to mind.
    – Hilmar
    Commented Apr 11, 2023 at 14:14

3 Answers 3


Check the central banks involved, they often publish some mid market currency rates. For example ECB


I usually agree with people to use an online rate, which we usually randomly select out of an -exchange rate euro to their money- search.
As this is mostly between two well known currencies like UK pound, euro, US dollar or Canadian dollar those are easy to find. Most searches return several results which are close in value and all have a buy and a sell rate or an option for either currency as the base one.

When you find one with a 'we buy' and 'we sell' with quite a difference you will have to go to a value in between two cut out the cost of the middle man.

Some sites also offer a banks or banknotes rate which already is in the middle, but those are mostly comparison sites, not selling sites, which are the better ones for this purpose.

How many sites you find depends on which currencies. It may be that you need to use a third currency like US dollar if no listing includes both of yours.

  • the main reason you get different rates is timing, the next biggest would be accuracy of the source material.
    – jwenting
    Commented Apr 11, 2023 at 7:32
  • how do you select "randomly"? Commented Apr 11, 2023 at 22:53
  • Pick the top result? Basically we agree to not study many sites but pick the site out of the first page of the search results of which we recognize the name.
    – Willeke
    Commented Apr 12, 2023 at 2:24
  • Always nice to hear from Willeke. As I understand it the "top" Google results is calculated based on algorithm that is driven by references to the URL as well as how often it is visited.
    – gatorback
    Commented Apr 15, 2023 at 5:07

Financial papers tend to publish the inter-bank rates used on financial exchanges. That's the base rate on which banks base the price they charge consumers for exchanging currency.

It's the "fairest" rate you can get, though of course you will end up bearing the burden of exchanging the foreign currency you get from your visitor back into your local currency when eventually you do bring it to your bank for deposit.

And I'd deposit it eventually as you never know whether the bank notes and coins you receive will still be legal tender when next you go and visit them in their home country (I still have a stash of left over foreign currency from long ago foreign travel that's now just worthless because of that, I use it as bookmarks).

  • Whether you need to deposit depends on how often you travel to the country where the money is used, or when you go next. I often exchange left over English money from friends and people at work just before I go over to the UK.
    – Willeke
    Commented Apr 11, 2023 at 8:10
  • @Willeke of course, hence the warning about long duration storage. If you're going to use it in the next few months you're fine, if you're going to have it sitting there for years and years, beware.
    – jwenting
    Commented Apr 11, 2023 at 8:32
  • When a currency change happens, old currency can usually be exchanged for new currency at a bank for quite some time. Commented Apr 11, 2023 at 18:35

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