If you're headed to Miami for business, or you're just on a mission to worship the sun at some of the most famous beaches in the United States, you're going to need cash.

With 55 foreign consulates and 18 foreign trade offices, Miami's status as a tourist city with a high international population means you'll spot far more currency exchange offices than in the average metropolitan area. According to the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau, Miami had over 23 million visitors in 2018.

When tourists need greenbacks, where is the best place to go? While ATMs are often the smartest default option, there are some circumstances where a currency exchange may be a better bet.

Key Takeaways

  • Miami-Dade County has a multitude of currency exchange offices. 
  • Currency exchange offices have variable hours of operations. 
  • It may be less expensive to exchange currency in your home country at your bank before you travel abroad. 
  • Always carry some cash with you when you travel.
  • Exchanging money via an ATM may be costly due to fees levied by the bank for foreign transactions. 

If You’re Arriving in Miami

U.S. banks are not alone in charging ATM—also called cashpoint—fees for customers traveling abroad. Dutch operations of the multinational bank ING, for example, charge for overseas withdrawals, while withdrawals in the European Union are free.

Skip the currency exchange kiosks at the airport, often they charge hefty exchange fees and offer low exchange rates.

If you're a foreigner planning a holiday or business trip to Miami, check with your bank beforehand to find out its policies on overseas withdrawals and transactions. Of course, even if you’re an account holder at a bank that offers favorable overseas transaction rates, you may find yourself in a situation—a lost banking card, a forgotten PIN code—that requires you to seek out the currency exchange.

In these cases, you'll be happy that you decided to carry the equivalent of a few hundred U.S. dollars in your home currency with you.

If You’re Departing From Miami

One benefit that currency exchanges have over ATMs is that many banks levy steep fees for foreign transactions. U.S. banks usually charge $2 to $5 for overseas withdrawals, and some also charge a transaction fee that amounts to 1% to 3% of the total withdrawal. One solution? Seek out a bank that offers zero foreign transaction and ATM fees.

If your flight is leaving in 48 hours and you realize that your bank does indeed charge the steeper end of these fees, it might be a wise idea to visit one of Miami’s currency exchanges.

Miami Money Exchanges

Whether you are arriving or leaving, the following are four vetted places to go with your dollars or foreign currency.

1. Abbot Foreign Money Exchange, 230 NE 1st St., Miami, (305) 374-2336

Easily reached by the local MetroMover train—get off at the First Street Station—this storefront currency exchange near Bayfront Park wins positive customer reviews for favorable rates and friendly service.

Like many businesses in Miami, a city sometimes called the “Capital of Latin America,” Spanish is spoken here. Though the range of currency it has on hand may be limited, this is a particularly good place to exchange dollars to euros.

2. Currency Exchange International, 7535 North Kendall Dr., Miami, (305) 662-7155

A trusted national chain that promises to match, or even beat, same-day exchange rates offered by local banks, this branch is located in the Dadeland Mall. If you’re just arriving in town, the website offers detailed directions from the Miami-Dade International Airport. It’s open until 7 p.m. p.m. every day except Sunday when it closes at 6 p.m.

3. Lincoln Currency Exchange, 1633 Washington Avenue, Miami Beach, (305) 672-1633

If you’ve escaped cold weather elsewhere and headed straight from the airport to the beach, the Lincoln Currency Exchange offers a convenient place to exchange foreign currency for dollars in the Miami Beach/South Beach area.

With more than 80 types of foreign currency on hand, this is one of the best currency exchanges for travelers arriving from smaller countries whose currencies may not be carried by most banks and other currency exchanges. For those visitors who like to stay up late, this exchange keeps its doors open until 10 p.m., seven days a week.

4. First Citizens Bank, 250 Palermo Ave, Coral Gables, FL 33134 (305) 639-7200

If you’re a local resident planning an overseas trip and you’d like the security of having some foreign currency on hand before your departure flight, the First Citizens Bank in Coral Gables is a solid bet. Offering helpful customer service for those new to currency exchange, their rates should be on par with market value. 

The Bottom Line

It may be tempting, after you’ve finally dragged your carryon down the jetway, through the terminal and you have cleared customs, to hit the first currency exchange you see. Don’t give in to jet lag—keep walking. Airport currency exchanges offer notoriously low rates compared to market value.

It’s a far better idea to hop in a taxi and head into town to a reputable currency exchange: you’ll happily get many more Cuban sandwiches and beachside daiquiris out of that stack of bills in your wallet.