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Question about converting cash (changing currency) in Japan

HanSolo

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Hi All,
This looks like the leading Japan forum on the internet so I thought I'd post this question here.
I am looking for a good-value way of converting foreign currency cash to yen in Japan. Specifically, I have AUD and USD cash.
Travelex is an unbelievable gouge (for AUD, you receive 80yen versus the market rate of 94yen), and the post office was not much better (84yen versus market rate of 94yen). This is a completely unreasonable loss of greater than 10%, and I'd rather hold on to the cash for the indefinite future than pay this, but I don't like carrying it everywhere.
By comparison, if I withdraw from my Citibank card (linked to AUD account), the loss is tiny, and 0% if I use a Citibank ATM. Hence ideally, it would be better to send the AUD back to Australia, and get a friend to deposit it, but this sort of thing is difficult in terms of safety (mailing cash etc).

So, does anyone know somewhere that a better deal can be had with exchanging cash?
Regards!
 

Glenski

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There are several ways to do it. Don't even try to get around the system. It sounds like you want to find a way that is actually profitable for you.

Bring cash in yen, traveller's cheques, or a debit card. Banks, large hotels, the airport, and the post office will be the places to check out for exchanges. When you have found the cheapest (not most profitable), accept it.
 

HanSolo

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I don't understand. It is never 'profitable'. I already have the foreign cash, in Japan, and the 10% plus loss I'd have to take to convert it is intolerable. So the information I am requesting remains: is there somewhere that offers a reasonable rate that I don't know of, or is there a safe way to return the cash back to Australia for depositing.
 

undrentide

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What kind of "market rate" you are referring to?
三菱UFJリサーチ&コンサルティング | 外国為替相場
If you are seeing this kind of info, you should remember that those rates are based on Telegraphic Transfer between banks. Banks add handling charges for cash (in case of US$, they usually add JPY3/US$). In Japan banks and post offices have the best rate.

Bank charges for transferring money to banks abroad are very expensive here, from JPY4,000 to 7,000/transaction. Western Union seems to be the cheapest way (around JPY1,000) but there's certain risks unless you know the recipient well and can trust him/her.
 
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Majestic

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As above, I think the retail rate at banks here are your best option. I've found that Travelex adds on one or two points more than the banks, but this can be reduced if you have a discount coupon from them (and they hand them out like candy, if you sign up for their member's club).

Sending cash is risky due to the chance of loss or theft. If you are considering sending cash overseas in order to save a few points on foreign exchange, you would be better off hanging on to the money yourself. If you need local currency I think many ATMs now accept foreign cards, but you will be paying extra charges at the ATM as well.
 

HanSolo

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Ok thanks undren, that bank offers a reasonable rate for USD cash, but doesn't list a rate for AUD cash. I'll check them out.
 

WonkoTheSane

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I go to Lucky since it's right near my work. Here's the page for the Okinawa branch which shows the day's exchange rate (the Yokosuka branch is about .25 - .5 ¥ worse):

2015.5.7(Thu) Today's Rate...|Lucky Exchange center$両替¥

If the dollar is under 110 to the yen, it's best for me to get travelers checks and exchange them at Bank of Yokohama. Otherwise, Lucky has the best rates I know of.

No idea where other branches are, though.
 

undrentide

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Here are lists of different exchange rates for different purposes. The lists are updated around 11am every working day.

トラベラーズチェック・外貨現金両替相場:三菱東京UFJ銀行
Rates for Cash (Selling i.e. changing JPY to Foreign currency), Traveller's Check (Buying i.e. Foreign currency to JPY), Cash (Buying)

外国為替相場一覧表:三菱東京UFJ銀行
(This list is more for business rather than personal currency exchange.)
T.T.S. = Telegraphic Transfer (Selling),
ACC. = Acceptance Rate (for payment by acceptance under L/C)
CASH S = Cash (Selling)
T.T.B. = Telegraphic Transfer (Buying)
A/S = At Sight Rate (for payment at sight under L/C)
D/P, D/A = Rate for payment by documents against payment/documents against acceptance
CASH B. = Cash (Buying)

Note: "Selling" or "Buying" here are from the Bank's point of view.

Just for OP's reference.
 

johnnyG

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...
Bank charges for transferring money to banks abroad are very expensive here, from JPY4,000 to 7,000/transaction. Western Union seems to be the cheapest way (around JPY1,000) but there's certain risks unless you know the recipient well and can trust him/her.

OTOH, if you are a platinum customer at Shinsei, you get one free transfer/month (cost is zero).
 

undrentide

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Yes, but to use the service, first you need to open an account called "Power Flex".
 

HanSolo

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Yeah it seems that AUD to JPY cash exchange is a gouge everywhere in Japan. USD is fine. AUD must just be a low-volume 'exotic' currency as far as banks here are concerned. Maybe I'll have to start flogging it to returning Aussies bit by bit :D.
 

danno

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In all my travels, I have never used a Currency Exchange service. Keep your money in your bank at home and use ATMs works the best in terms of exchange and no hassle. In Japan, the ATMs in 7-11 konbinis work very well and they are ubiquitous.
 

HanSolo

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Yes as mentioned a citibank ATM card is the way to go, however I did not have chance to deposit this AUD before I left.
 

HanSolo

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Update: eventually found somewhere with a better rate so I took it. It was Nishi-Nippon City Bank, offering a loss of ~5yen to the dollar, versus the ~10yen of other banks and JP, and ~14yen at travelex (travelgouge).
 
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