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calendar   Tuesday - December 03, 2013

Arbitrage Sux. Or is it just banks?

Not Really “America’s Most Convenient Bank”
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I did what I could to spend all my Bahamian currency in the Bahamas, but as luck would have it, buried deep in my wallet was an extra $21 in island money. Hey, no worries, I’ll just take it down to my local bank and deposit it in my account. After all, they bill themselves as “America’s most convenient bank”, and the Bahamian Dollar has been 1:1 with the US Dollar since “new money” came around in the mid-sixties.

Wrong. Not only could I not deposit it, I had to go see some desk monkey to do an exchange. Still, no worries, right? Friendliest and most convenient bank, yadda yadda. Wrong. I sit down at his desk and tell him I had a small amount of foreign currency left over from my vacation, a whole B$21, and that I’d like to exchange it, knowing that it’s tied directly to our currency.

He pulls up the appropriate program. Click, click, click ... wait. Wait. Wait. Click click. “How much was it?” Twenty one dollars. Click click. Wait. Click. “Ok, I can give you $10.50 for it.” Excuse me, what? “Well, your B$21 is only worth US$15.75, and then there’s a transaction fee of $5.25.” Um, no, the Bahamian dollar is one to one with the US dollar. One of ours is worth one of theirs; one of theirs is worth one of ours. “No, your B$21 is only worth $15.75.”

Like hell. I’ll eat the loss and hang the money on the wall as a souvenir before I’ll knuckle under to that rip-off. Funny how the banks there are only too happy to have my US cash.

Friggin arbitrage.

How about “vacation friendly” banking? Come back with less than $75 in foreign money, and the bank will take it for face value and a $3 fee? How about a percentage fee that caps at $10 for large cash exchanges, and goes to 0 for amounts under $50? My bank wants $17.50 to convert less than $250, and they apply a usurious discount rate. Bastiges.

How about, if US banks aren’t willing to do currency exchange, then setting up a money changer booth in the Inbound side of our major airports? Pay 2% or $2, whichever is greater, and get it done before you clear customs.

Man oh man. Once upon a time, somebody took a whip to these money changers. I can understand why.

Next time, should there ever be a next time, I’ll make sure to spend ever last dinar, E - C dollar, or Franc I have on me. What a rip.


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Posted by Drew458   United States  on 12/03/2013 at 03:39 PM   
Filed Under: • Economics •  
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