Currency Exchange Fee Calculator: Work Out What You’re Paying

Going on vacation is often an expensive event that includes costs from all areas. Add to that the confusion of an additional, perhaps unfamiliar currency and it might be easy for you not to take advantage of the best deal out there.

One place you can be subtly charged a quite significant fee is in currency exchange when buying from a commission-based bureau de change. Currency exchangers make a profit by adjusting exchange rates to guarantee a profit when a transaction takes place. Most of the time however, you won’t notice what is essentially their fee because it’s part of your overall exchange rate, which they take as commission. With each retailer offering a different rate, it can be difficult to deduce which one is offering the best deal with minimal commission.

Currency Exchange Fee Calculator is a very simple, straightforward app that will cross-reference a retailer’s offer with the going market rate to calculate the fee they’re adding on. Let’s find out more after the jump. 

Converting Currencies

As soon as you open the app, you’ll be presented with the apps’s main screen: the calculator. Here, you’ll enter an amount of currency that you wish to exchange from, the currency that it’s in, and then the currency that you wish to exchange into. For example, swapping out £200 (GBP) into United States Dollars.

Before you run ahead and hit the button to calculate, you’ll also need to input the rate that the exchange outlet is offering. At the time of writing, I was able to exchange that £200 (GBP) into $299.20 (USD) at a common British high street retailer (a rate of 1.00 GBP = 1.4960 USD). Therefore, one would enter 1.4960 into the last input field of the app’s calculation screen.

When you’ve entered all the relevant data, it’s time to tap the green Calculate Fee button at the bottom of the app.

Inputting data into Currency Exchange Fee Calculator's main screen.

Inputting data into Currency Exchange Fee Calculator's main screen.

Naturally, the app uses the Internet to connect and pull in the market exchange rates. However, if you’re somewhere without a Wi-Fi or 3G/4G connection, the app can fall back on previously downloaded data with ease, so it’s still useable. If you’re in a foreign country and don’t want to pay over-the-top roaming charges, this can be an excellent advantage since the app remains useable.

Browsing the Results

After a few seconds, the app will present a popup detailing your overall charge. For the transaction I detailed in the previous section, the app told me the retailer was charging me £6.68 (GBP) overall in my transaction.

The results of a calculation show the charge your retailer levies.

The results of a calculation show the charge your retailer levies.

You can simply take this figure and close the app, but by hitting the Details button, you’ll get a more in-depth look at how this charge is being added. The app will pull up the exchange outlet’s rate, the going market rate and the fee the exchange outlet levies on your potential transaction. Right at the bottom, the app also presents it’s working out, showing you how the feel has been calculate using good old fashioned multiplication.

The Currency Exchange Fee Calculator will also notify you when there could be a hidden fee, or just when the offer seems too good to be true.

The Currency Exchange Fee Calculator will also notify you when there could be a hidden fee, or just when the offer seems too good to be true.

From the expanded details screen, I was able to easily see that the outlet was taking five cents off my rate for every one pound I was paying. This information is probably nothing more than being of just a mild interest, but the real use comes when you repeat the process at multiple locations and retailers, comparing them to see which offer is encountering the lowest rate of commission — and the cheaper end price for you.

Interface and Design

The aptly named Currency Exchange Fee Calculator has a nice interface, that utilises most of the screen for the various input fields in the calculation screen, and not adding to the empty space by having unnecessarily small controls. The app is incredibly intuitive; you hardly need a tutorial or guidance before going ahead and performing your first calculation.

Another calculation breakdown shows how Currency Exchange Fee Calculator has worked out the charge in this EUR to IEP exchange.

Another calculation breakdown shows how Currency Exchange Fee Calculator has worked out the charge in this EUR to IEP exchange.

One thing I did note is that it’d be nice for the app to remember commonly used currencies, or allow you to “save” them, as to avoid scrolling through the endless list of available currencies for exchange. I would rarely use the app in conjunction with anything but USD, GBP and EUR, so it’d be nice to have these at the top of the list to save time for future use.

Final Thoughts

Currency Exchange Fee Calculator is just one of those apps that you should always have installed on your device, tucked away in a folder, because you’ll never know when you might need it. There’s little more to say about it than it works, just as you’d expect, in a pretty intuitive, and straightforward interface that won’t leave anyone questioning how to use it.

Additionally, the app’s ability to fall back on old data when an Internet connection isn’t available is incredibly useful, especially if you’re trying to exchange money while in a different country where Internet may be priced at a premium.


Summary

A simple utility that compares a retailer's exchange rate to the going market rate to work out how much commission you're being charged.

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