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I will be shortly travelling to the United States, and I just found some japanese Yen bills that were sleeping in a drawer, for a significant amount.

I would like to change them into US Dollars for the upcoming trip.

In order to get the most out of that sum, which currency exchange office along my route is likely to charge the smallest commissions, between the following places?

  • Geneva airport
  • New York City airports
  • Somewhere in NYC as we will be transferring between airports
  • Orlando airport
  • Somewhere in Orlando, any place that offers currency exchange
  • @Gagravarr Not really the same question. That's about bringing money from X to Y, this is about converting currency Z when traveling from X to Y. – jpatokal Feb 2 '15 at 23:50
  • @jpatokal You're right. I'd assumed the OP was in Japan, in which case the right answer is paying the Yen into their bank account and following the advice in the linked question. Hadn't spotted that they weren't – Gagravarr Feb 3 '15 at 0:31
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You always lose money when exchanging currency because of the bank overhead. Unless you have the old receipt (which with some companies allows you exchange back at a lower rate), then you want to limit the number of transactions.

Rather than exchanging Yen->Dollars (which for the company will be an internal Yen->Euro->Dollars), exchange Yen->Euro and deposit the money. Then in the USA, use a no-fee ATM card to withdraw your Euro as dollars. (This assumes you have a no-fee ATM card).

Alternately, find some departing Japanese tourists at the airport and offer to give them yen for the euro they no longer need.

  • Good advice! Do you mean all currency exchange companies use euros as main currency? As I live in Switzerland now, getting Swiss francs would be more useful than euros; in addition, I have an account in euros, but there is no nearby branch of my bank available on my route. – DavGin Feb 2 '15 at 20:42
  • No, I just assumed that you were in Europe. Sorry, didn't see Geneva. Then it'd be Swiss Francs if you're using a Swiss bank/company. In any case, same procedure. – RoboKaren Feb 2 '15 at 21:07
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    How is this plan superior to exchanging the yens do dollars once arrived in the US? Even with a no-fee ATM card, going through euros will still cause the OP to lose money to exchange rate spread twice, rather than combining the "get rid of the yens" and "get some dollars" in a single transaction. – Henning Makholm Feb 2 '15 at 21:26
  • @HenningMakholm Cash conversion rates in the USA are stunningly bad. The local bank (some day I should take a picture) has a near-10% spread between bid and ask for Euros and GBP. Worse for Australia dollar. Don't remember Yen. I can believe that, exceptionally, the JPY-CHF and then CHF-USD transaction would work out better, depending on the rate for depositing the JPY cash in Switzerland. The USA is an exception to the rule that you should change money in the foreign country, preferably at an ATM and if not at a bank or exchange service. – Andrew Lazarus Jan 31 '16 at 21:39

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