The New Way to Exchange Money While on Travel

Written by Avid Traveller

Topics: Finance, Travel

I recently stumbled upon the site WeSwap which uses a social/crowdsource methodology to help you exchange your currency while on travel and avoid the exorbitant exchange rate fees. Let’s say you want to change your Euros to Dollars before ehading back home from Italy. There will likely be someone who has dollars that is looking for Euros. WeSwap effectively allows you to exchange travel money directly with other travelers via a secure transaction online, backed by MasterCard ™.

After you upload your money to the WeSwap account and state which currency you are looking for, it will start to match you up with other members that can swap money with you. They exchange rate used is the actual mid-market rate at the time of the exchange. The fee is anywhere between 1% (1 week) and 1.4% (instant) depending upon how long you are willing to wait for your money.

You receive your cash in your WeSwap account which has an associated MasterCard Debit Card. You then use this to pay for whatever you need, wherever you are.

I really like this concept and have not tried it personally yet, but am considering this for Peru. My concerns are as follows:

  • Not everyone takes MasterCard, or more importantly, many services that will not accept a credit card at all. I am thinking about the taxi upon arrival, the small store across from the hotel, the local vendor selling souvenirs, etc. There are many countries in SE Asia and Latin America where a credit card is nearly useless in almost every place other than the hotel. They do allow you to take out money at ATMs with the card as well, they charge $1.50 for amounts smaller than 200 pounds, and free above that, so this could help.
  • If you are using a less in demand currency like the Costa Rica colon or the Albanian Lek, or in my case, the Peruvian Nueva Sol, and you want it instantly, I am curious to see if the transaction can be performed.

I am still looking into using my Charles Schwab card first to see if this makes more sense, or if I go with a service like WeSwap.  Either way, it’s great to see someone thinking outside the box for a common travel problem and getting around the crazy fees banks and local exchange houses charge.

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