Dear Dr. Don,
Can you offer a suggestion on a currency converter? I'm looking for the best way for a consumer to convert existing foreign currency into U.S dollars. I read in the recent edition of AARP The Magazine that conversion at an airport is way out of line. One other factor is that the European currencies that I have are pre-euro.
-- Tom Tenner
I asked the nice people at EverBank in Jacksonville, Fla., to help me with your question and was pleasantly surprised to get a reply from Chuck Butler, president of EverBank World Markets.
Butler says that when it comes to dealing with folding cash, "a holder has very few choices." Among those limited choices are "the kiosks in the airport, or a currency teller in a large money center bank." EverBank does not deal in folding cash, Butler says.
"The other thing here is the important fact that the customer says they have pre-euro currencies," he says. "The only way to convert those to dollars is to present them to the central bank in Europe ... The timeline for conversion at any bank ended years ago."
Most of the countries that converted to the euro have a schedule of when coins and notes can be redeemed. For many of these countries, coins can no longer be redeemed for euros. A common deadline for the redemption of notes is some time in 2012.
The University of British Columbia's Sauder School of Business has a table of central bank redemption deadlines on its Web site under the heading "Legal Tender Status and Redemption after E-Day."
Your cache of pre-euro foreign currencies may have more value to numismatists than it does with the European Central Bank after considering the costs associated with conversion.
For the other coins and currencies, a few calls to banks in your area will likely result in your finding one that will convert the notes, if not the coins. You can then compare the bank conversion rates and costs with those at those nefarious airport kiosks to see where you get your best deal on conversion.
UNICEF has a program called "Change for Good" that will accept your contribution of coins you can't convert that nonetheless remain legal tender. Virgin Atlantic has a similar program, "Change for Children," that may accept your contribution of coins.
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