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Money Exchange

Where is the best place to exchange US$ to JPYen? Is it better to exchange it at the airport in US or airport in Japan or some place else. Who gives the best rate?

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  • Hi,
    Basically it is better to do the exchange in the country with the smaller economy. Look at it this way - if you are in Argentina, you’d love to have lots more US dollars. But if you are in America, the last thing you want is dealing with a pile of Argentinian pesos.
    The exchange rates in America for yen are horrible - and you should buy your yen once in Japan. One of the best ways to get yen is to use your ATM card at a Japanese Post Office or 7–11.
    http://www.jp-bank.japanpost.jp/en/ias/en_ias_index.html
    http://www.sevenbank.co.jp/intlcard/card2.html
    You get a good exchange rate, can use the ATM machines in English, and there are tens of thousands of them across Japan. The 7–11 ATMs are open virtually 24/7. There are other convenience store chains as well - Family Mart and Lawson’s - they too are slowly adding international ATM card capability, but it is still hit or miss. For them, some may take your card while others might say ATM in front of their store but only take Japanese cards.

    There may be a certain fee for using it (check with your bank first) as well as a foreign exchange fee, but often is only a few dollars unless you are doing business with a ripoff bank. Having your money in a credit union will often be a lot kinder to your wallet in many ways. You are charged for each ATM use so withdrawing fewer and larger sums is better - and Japan is relatively safe.

    If you do plan to use your ATM card in Japan, make sure your bank knows about it first so they don't suspect fraudulent usage and freeze your account.

    You can find Japanese post offices as well as a 7–11 ATM in major airports (the Sevenbank one is the one for 7–11). So you can get yen as soon as you land.

    You can also see what Japanese money looks like on:
    http://www.thejapanfaq.com/japanfaq1c.html

    Here are the current rates in Japan and you can compare them with what your local bank has:
    https://www.mizuhobank.co.jp/rate/market/cash.html
    The right hand column has the rates for buying yen with cash, and already includes their cut, so that is the actual rate you’d get if you walked through their doors (the news shows the inter-bank rate before they take your pound of flesh; usually 3 ¥/$ or so).

    Have a good trip.
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