Tuesday, January 23, 2007


I wrote a piece a year and a half ago titled Changing Money. It covered all the angles I knew of in order to get the best exchange rate around the world. Recent problems here in Thailand cause me to add to the instructions.

I try to live here in Bangkok on pension income from the United States which means the exchange rate is important to me. Unfortunately the exchange rate has been in a downward spiral for some time. It has gone from a high of around 42, I think, sometime last year to below 36 to the dollar. Most of that is due to weakness in the dollar I’ve been told.

No matter the cause, it’s a huge hit to me. It has caused me to watch the reported exchange rate to try to catch it on an upswing. The other day all three of my sources reported the rate to be over 36 so I went to my friendly neighborhood ATM to do a furtive withdrawal. I got robbed! No, not by thieves but by the exchange rate. It was way below what had been reported. I checked my internet source, XE.com - The Universal Currency Converter ®. Sure enough, the rate had dropped nearly 3% in the time it took to go to the machine.

Lesson: The reported rate is worthless. Just today, the Bangkok Post is reporting a current rate of 34.75 which, they say, is down 1.23 baht from yesterday. The Nation reports a current rate of 35.93 which, they say, is up 0.88 baht from yesterday. The Currency Converter, referenced above, states the current rate is 35.18. Which do you believe?

You can’t believe any of them. But here is a simple way to see if the current rate is for you or against you. Always hang on to your ATM receipts. On the bottom, if it’s a good ATM, it will give a current balance shown in Thai money. Before you deal the next time, check your balance first. Your balance will show what way the exchange rate has gone since your last transaction in the only way that matters, which is how much money you have left.


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