World finance :: Savings, Business and Personal finances

Cut the cost of your christmas holiday currency purchases

JETSETTERS are taking 10 million overseas trips a year, which means we’re spending a lot of foreign currency.

Christmas is one of the busiest times of year for buying currency and sending money to relatives overseas, so getting a good deal is important in helping you to save hundreds of dollars.

First, make sure you look beyond your bank.

International money provider World Firsts chief commercial officer Ray Ridgeway says you should always shop around and compare your banks rates with at least one non-bank currency provider.

Find a company that offers you a price promise or price matching, which will save you time and money in the long run, he says.

Currency is always moving, so sign up to a rate alert service. A lot of foreign exchange providers offer that and will message you by text or email.

Ridgeway says it can be a good idea to buy currency in smaller parcels in the lead-up to your trip, protecting you against a sudden slump.

Beware of terms such as no fees, he says. Its a common misconception that your transfer will be completely free of charge.

Transaction fees might range from $10 to $30, but the biggest profit made by banks and other providers is in their foreign exchange conversion rate.

Banks might make 4.5 per cent on money transfers and up to 7 per cent on cash sales while some smaller operators may only make 1 per cent, Ridgeway says.

He says if you are visiting friends or family overseas you could transfer funds directly to them to save money. They could then withdraw cash for you locally.

The Currency Shop director Justin Rampono says some providers offer better exchange rates for larger amounts such as $4000, so you can combine purchases with your travelling partners.

Ask for a better rate. One question could save you a couple of hundred dollars on your currency, and you dont know if you dont ask, he says.

Avoid grabbing your foreign money at the airport at the last minute. Thats the worst way you could buy currency, Rampono says.

If you are going to get it at the airport, buy it online and pick it up from the airport. Doing that is significantly cheaper than doing it on the day.

Buying US dollars online the day before and collecting it before your flight can save 3c or 4c per dollar, Rampono says.

Venezuela leader says cash crackdown a victory

VENEZUELA’S president said Sunday that the sudden decision to scrap the country’s most-used currency bill was an economic triumph over the country’s enemies even as the government sent troops and police to cities where riots and looting broke out over the measure.

In a national radio and television broadcast, Nicolas Maduro said his abrupt action had flooded the countrys banks with currency deposited by Venezuelans racing to get rid of the paper bills while also devastating Colombian-border currency traders he blames for the bolivars precipitous plunge in value against the criminal dollar.

Last weeks sudden announcement annulling all 100-bolivar notes led to massive lines at banks, a dramatic spurt in electronic payment and widespread fear by poorer people with no bank accounts and all their savings in the doomed bills, whose value had already plunged to a few US cents. Cash transactions such as buying food or gasoline became extremely difficult.

Maduro suddenly changed course late Saturday, announcing the 100-bolivar notes could be used until Jan. 2 Before that announcement riots and looting broke out in several cities and Maduro said Sunday more than 300 people had been detained, including several members of opposition parties.

He said the violence resulted from a macabre plan promoted by US President Barack Obama to extract massive quantities of 100-bolivar notes from the country and stockpile them abroad.

He said it was meant to be the final blow of Obama, a final blow to create chaos, violence, division.

Most economists blame the countrys economic woes on price controls and falling prices for the countrys oil exports, as well as heavy government spending and production-crippling policies that gave Venezuelans lots of 100-bolivar notes but not enough to buy with them.

Maduro said hed had to lift extend the life of the old currency notes because saboteurs had prevented the arrival of three aeroplanes carrying newly printed, larger-denomination bills from abroad. He didnt give details about the plot. Disturbances continued into Saturday evening in places such as Ciudad Bolivar, where officials banned motorcycles for 48 hours and restricted overnight car and pedestrian traffic. Bolivar state Gov. Francisco Rangel Gomez said 135 people had been arrested in his state.

Eight hundred police and troops were sent to the town of El Callao, where Mayor Coromoto Lugo said a youth was killed, 25 businesses were looted and 40 people were injured in the disturbances.

In the southwestern town of La Fria, officials said city hall was burned during rioting on Saturday.