More than half (53%) of Walloons would opt for a republic should Belgium disappear and Wall...
Amnesty International’s annual report reveals that Belgium is unable to control satisfactor...
Belgian postal operator bpost today announced that it would list a minority stake, currentl...
Several irregularities undermine the legality of Brussels’ annual Car Free Sunday event, pr...
The best deals on foreign currency
In Belgium, most banks or foreign exchange bureaus can assist you in exchanging currency. Signs to look out for are the ones saying Bureau de Change, Geld Wechseln or Cambio.
As with most things in life, planning is advantageous before buying foreign currency for your summer holidays. On arrival at Zaventem airport, you will find that Travelex operates all five bureaus de change This lack of competition means that organising your foreign currency purchases at Brussels airport just before departure is likely to be expensive.
Hotels can provide currency outside banking hours; however, foreign exchange facilities are restricted to hotel guests and the range of currencies is limited.
Don’t expect your high street bank to offer extensive foreign exchange facilities. Banks tend to have US dollars, sterling or Swedish krona easily available, but if you’re travelling to an exotic destination such as Thailand, Singapore or Malaysia, look elsewhere. Most banks don’t sell any of these currencies, and as you can’t change money in a bank unless you hold an account there, your bank is likely to just point you in the direction of bureaus de change.
Bureaus de Change
There are a multitude of foreign exchange bureaus throughout Belgium, and they vary considerably in terms of exchange rates and availability of specific currencies. Make sure you phone in advance to check the currency you want is available. For instance, if you wish to travel to Malaysia, DME Change (www.dmechange.be), a bureau de change with offices in Brussels near the Grand’Place and Rue Neuve, will have the Malaysian ringgit in stock – other bureaus don’t even deal in the ringgit as the demand is relatively low.
Currency market rates change on a daily and sometimes hourly basis, and as no one organisation provides the best rates at all times in all currencies, it is advisable to shop around – even if your bank can provide the currency you want.
A recent comparison between DME Change and the high street banks ING and Fortis highlights the inconsistencies in the market. Both banks offered US$1.21 per €1, whereas US$1.25 were offered at DME Change. Conversely, ING and Fortis offered 40 Thai bhat per €1, while the equivalent for DME was 36 bhat.
Bear in mind too that rates also vary significantly from one bureau de change to another. Compare DME’s indication rate of 36 Thai bhat per euro with a Goffin Exchange rate of 34.31 and Travelex rate of 35.61.
At the airport
If you’ve left it late and need to change money, Travelex advises customers to order currency online to get a better deal – at least two days in advance if you can. Visit www.travelex.be, where you are given an indication rate at the time of order. Note though that the rate can vary up until to the time you collect your foreign currency at the airport.
•Banks offer a limited range of currencies and foreign exchange facilities are for account-holders only
•Whilst a bureau de change is likely to hold most currencies, it is always best to check first
•In some cases, if a bureau de change is ordering currency, they will require photo ID and a deposit
•You may also be asked for photo ID if you’re paying by visa
•There is no fee involved in exchanging currency whether you use a bank or a bureau. The charges are included in the transaction itself