Expats and new travelers take note of the best places to exchange money;
You’ve just gotten here and you need to exchange some currency where do you go? You’ve been here for a while and you need the very best rates that are consistent as well… We have a favorite exchange and it’s right in the city center at Piata Unirii across the street from the Unirii shopping center, or Magazinul Unirii. There are to metro stops directly in front. From there, directly across from the “Zara” store (ex-media galaxy) you’ll see two exchanges wedged in between some other shops. They seem to consistently have great rates. I tend to stay away from banks, as without an account, the walk-in rates are very poor. Quite often you’ll run in to “commissions” as well. Be aware that the big signs that advertise 0% commissions may be an attention grabber in order disguise the fact that their poor rates may compensate for your savings.
At the time of this posting 1 Euro = 4.29 lei, and the Unirii exchanges we giving a whopping 4.27 on that. That’s a tight margin for them but excellent for us. The dollar to lei was weaker, but hopefully everyone has gotten their money out of dollars by now. So where’s the other great exchanges?
UPDATE: Again we’d like to reiterate that there is a lot of “news” regurgitation that is going on out there in “Bucharest Travel Info Land” and your local freebie magazines offering Bucharest information. The most common thing that we hear from people or are asked to comment on is the proper place to exchange money. In a related post we mentioned the difference between banks, currency exchanges, and ATM’s. Virtually all of the info sources “out there” recommend using ATM’s, Banks, and exchanges… in that order. We think this is insanely incorrect. Just a quick rundown here: ATM’s charge you up to triple fees (one from your bank, one from the ATM’s bank, and a currency exchange fee… if not you’re lucky) they also have the worst rates. Banks rates are also not always the greatest. We prefer exchanges, but you must know where to go to get the best rates with no commission… and by all means check your money to make sure its real. This does happen occasionally, but not likely in parts of Bucharest you’ll be staying in.
We’ve since found another great currency exchange that is open 24hrs a day, is in a convenient area, has absolutely great rates, and best of all you can grab one of the best shaormas in town less than a meter away from the currency window! Its the Dristor Kebap location at the corner of Dimitri Cantemir and Blvd Marasesti.
One thing to be careful of when hunting down currency exchanges: stay away from the ones at the shopping malls and airports. Bad rates.