Are there bureau de change in major cities in the United States (such as New York, or San Francisco) offering competitive rates (say within 1-2% of the current mid-rate for major currencies?). Banks and Travelex offer less competitive rates and generally have a small selection of currencies.

(I recognize that this may not be the most effective way to bring money overseas, as suggested by this question on how to take currency).

Singapore, for one, has a number of bureau de change (at the rather appropriately named Change Alley) offering relatively competitive rates, and I'm wondering whether this is simply not the case in the US.

  • Don't recall many currency exchange places in Freiburg. And of those I don't recall them offering rates any better than I could achieve electronically. If you're looking to buy you can get your desired rate against the current spot but selling is a different story.
    – Karlson
    Commented Sep 6, 2016 at 21:36
  • Best rate can generally only be achieved by Tier 1 banks.
    – Karlson
    Commented Sep 6, 2016 at 21:37
  • The US dollar being so readily available around the world, and electronic payments becoming the norm practically everywhere in the US, and the great majority of tourists in any given U.S. city being domestic, I don't see much demand for currency exchange, and thus little competition. In all of Washington, D.C., a city replete with foreign tourists throughout the year, Google Maps identifies only about 6, two of which are Travelex locations.
    – choster
    Commented Sep 6, 2016 at 23:33
  • 1
    I am not aware of any in San Francisco offering good rates. Google shows some I was not aware of in or near Chinatown. The chains (Travelex, etc.) have awful rates, and so do the banks. Commented Sep 7, 2016 at 0:17
  • 1
    @pnuts I'm afraid I don't (and that question is also slightly outdated). Commented Sep 10, 2016 at 15:48

1 Answer 1


Money exchanges bureaux are not popular in the US, and you will have really hard time finding ones outside the airports and major tourist cities (San Francisco, Las Vegas etc) - and even there you'll only find them in major tourist spots.

Because there are so few of them, and they're limited to locations listed above, where the costs of renting a business space are quite high, I don't think what you're asking is possible at all. Those I've seen had a really large spread, often exceeding 20% or even more.

Banks in US can also do currency exchange, but not all branches will do this. And their rates, when I tried to purchase foreign currency from them (Wells Fargo and Bank of America) were very uncompetitive comparing to the rate they'd give me when getting money from an overseas ATM.

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