Useful tips for buying and selling foreign currencies

We’re going to London to spend weekend of our dreams! But… where can I get British pounds? If you want to exchange euros for pounds or for any other currency, you can either go to your bank or to a currency-exchange bureau. And the other way around too: when changing back to euros your left over foreign currency.

In Spain, currency-exchange bureaux are supervised by Banco de España and must therefore comply with specific user protection measures. Some currency-exchange bureaux may charge fees and others may offer the service free of charge. Those that charge fees usually offer very interesting exchange rates, but pay attention to the small print and read it carefully, because sometimes these fees can be quite high and aren’t always clearly and transparently displayed.

Therefore, some precautions should be taken:

  • First of all, check the financial institution’s notice board, which must be in a visible place and contain relevant information for users, such as Banco de España’s authorization, applicable currency-exchange rates, as well as fees and costs that might be charged.
  • Before handing in any amount over the counter, ask exactly how much foreign currency you will receive. Check that there are no additional fees and if there are, make sure you agree with the amount charged.
  • If possible, always check the bank’s or currency-exchange bureau’s website beforehand so that you can carefully read the offered conditions. It is an easier and more convenient way, since you will have enough time to read all the information.

Currency-exchange bureaux choose their own currency-exchange fees and costs, which can be quite high and in some cases exceed 20% of the amount exchanged. In addition, sometimes the information provided can be confusing. As with any other banking transaction, it is highly important to be fully aware of the conditions before agreeing to them.

Banco de España has received claims and complaints against currency-exchange bureaux over the past two years because they operated in a non-transparent way. Provisional measures forcing the currency-exchange bureaux to warn their clients in each of their establishments in Spain about currency-exchange fees were adopted for some cases, whilst a final resolutionAbre en ventana nueva was yet to be reached.  

If you believe a currency-exchange bureau is violating your rights, you may submit a claim to Banco de España’s Market Conduct and Claims Department.


Did you find this information useful?