Savvy travellers know that an airport is pretty much the last place you’d want to swap Aussie dollars for foreign currency. Those Travelex kiosks not only have the worst rates around town, they also hit you with the steepest commission.
Yet ironically, ordering your currency online through the Travelex website turns out to be one of Australia’s cheapest currency exchange options.
I’ve long been a fan of online ordering through Travelex.com.au. There are three good reasons I not only use it but recommend it to fellow travellers. But there are also three simple ways Travelex could offer customers an even better service.
What Travelex does well...
1. Decent rates: On any given day you'll find Travelex.com.au offers rates which are far more generous than Travelex retail outlets in the city and the airport, and roughly on par with (and in some cases a little better than) most other banks and building societies.
Of course, where most currency outlets get you is on the commission, which leads me to the second thing I like about Travelex online.
2. No commission: If you pay for your Travelex currency order via BPAY there’s no commission. None. Zip.
The caveat is that you have to allow an extra three days in advance for the BPAY order to clear. If you leave things to the last minute and pay with a credit you’ll be hit with a 1.5% surcharge. (The solution is simple: get organised!)
3. Airport pickup: I reckon this is icing on the currency exchange cake. When you place an online order through Travelex.com.au you get to choose where and when you’d like to collect your foreign currency.
You can select any of the Travelex retail outlets, but why bother adding to your already packed to-do list? Select a Travelex outlet at the airport with the pick-up date as the day you fly. Then you can stroll up before or after you check-in, show your ID, collect your cash and you’re good to go.
You can see why this is a winner for me. But there’s room for improvement.
What Travelex could do better...
1. Remember me: Unlike almost any online store which lets you set up a customer account for return visits, Travelex.com.au makes you enter all your details – name, address, credit card details, passport details (for identification) – every single time you place an order.
It’d be far more convenient for customers and a real boon for frequent flyers to have an account where all that is stored, perhaps even with your preferred pickup location and currency orders preset.
2. More airport pickup locations: There’s only one Travelex desk at Sydney and Melbourne international airports from which you can collect your order, and that’s landside.
I’d welcome a second pickup point located airside, as like most business travellers and frequent flyers I like to get through customs as soon as possible and then attend to the small stuff. Also, because there’s just one pickup desk, Murphy’s Law will dictate this is usually the counter with the longest line. Which leads me to...
3. A ‘pre-ordered currency’ pickup lane: I’ve already ordered my currency online, and paid for it. It’s sitting behind the counter in a little plastic bag, all ready to go. I’ve made your life easier, Travelex.
So why make me stand behind a half-dozen tourists who are juggling exchange rates and trying to work out how much money they need? Savvy travellers deserve an express lane so they can walk up, cash up and fly out.