I frequently use a currency conversion tool to work out how much my Helium payments, in US dollars, will convert to in UK pounds. In previous eras, to do such a currency conversion, I would probably have needed to go into a bank branch or, at the very least, to have made a phone call. However, the emergence of the Internet has provided us all with the ability to self serve and means that we can do our currency conversions at any time of day, and on every day of the year. Importantly, as well, we can work out the currency conversions for free.
There are a host of currency conversion websites that you can use. It would be impossible to provide a review of each one of them, so I’ll limit my observations to the select few that I feel offer the greatest utility and usability.
The currency converter that I use the most is the one supplied by www.xe.com. It has a simple user-friendly design that means that I can immediately do a currency conversion when I arrive at their home page. All I have to do is enter the amount and then select the currency that I want to convert from and to. These are selected from a drop down box that displays the 21 currencies that they currently cover. That’s quite a comprehensive list and certainly has always met my needs.
I notice that XE also offer a “Full Universal Currency Converter” that offers currency conversion on up to 180 currencies for those people who need to work with slightly more obscure or exotic currencies.
Like XE’s universal currency converter, Bloomberg’s tool offers an incredibly comprehensive range of currencies. Indeed, it outscores XE’s site in this regard, proclaiming to offer currency conversion for over 200 currencies. That’s just about as comprehensive as you’re ever going to get! For example, if I happen to be travelling from Benin to Albania, then I can see that 100 Benin Francs is worth 19.14 Albanian Lek.
Both the XE and Bloomberg websites are great for getting free currency quotes. However, what if you want to actually order your currency online? The best bet, in that case, is probably to check out a few bank websites to see whether they offer an online travel currency ordering service. To give an example, HSBC offer the ability to order currency (in over 80 currencies) via their website. Typically, you will be asked to select the currency you want to transfer from and to and the amount. An online quote will then be provided and you will be asked to confirm whether you wish to proceed. You will then be asked to enter your card details to effect the payment and the delivery of the currency will usually have to be to the address associated with that card or, in some cases, to your account holding branch. Of course, many people will just use the Internet to research currencies and will then purchase their currency face-to-face. However, it is nice to also have the option of completing the transaction entirely via the Internet.
There is no doubt that the world has become an ever smaller place in the past few generations and many of us now engage in a lot of world travel. Whilst some standardisation of currencies has happened (most notably the introduction of the Euro across many of the European countries), international travel often still involves the need to exchange money from one currency to another. It is great, therefore, that easy to use online currency converters are so easily at our disposal, as well as the ability (in some cases) to order the foreign currency online. In fact, all this talk about foreign currency has made me want to go and investigate my next holiday!