With Universal Studios, Walt Disney World, Discovery Cove, and SeaWorld, it's no wonder that Orlando, Fla., is the theme park, attraction, and amusement capital of the world. And, in recent years, the town has gained traction as a culinary and luxury resort destination as well, populated with prestigious hostelers like Four Seasons, the Ritz-Carlton, and the Waldorf Astoria.
In 2019, 75 million tourists came to Orlando, many of them from overseas. Here are some of the best options for exchanging currency—places that will also be helpful for Orlando residents headed to South America, Europe, or elsewhere overseas who need to pick up some foreign currency before departing.
- Exchanging currency in Orlando can be done at the airport via Interchange—the sole foreign exchange provider at the Orlando International Airport.
- Perhaps the best option is via ATMs, with various SunTrust ATMs in the airport, and other major banks having ATMs around the airport.
- There are also currency exchange stores, which are best utilized away from the airport.
While you won’t get the best exchange rate at the airport, getting currency there is convenient—and sometimes necessary if you need cash to pay for that first meal or taxi ride.
Interchange is the sole foreign exchange provider at the Orlando International Airport, and the company operates four stores inside the main airport areas. All are open seven days a week. Here are their locations:
- Arrivals B—open 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
- East Hall—open 6:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.
- Airside 4—open 12:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.
- West Hall—open 6:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.
In addition to standard currency exchange services, Interchange offers cash advances on Visa, MasterCard, JCB (a Japanese brand), and Amex credit and debit cards, plus money transfer services through Western Union.
An automated teller machine (ATM) card is considered one of the best ways to get cash while traveling abroad. Because withdrawals are based on the wholesale exchange rate, you’ll usually get a better deal than you can at a currency exchange store.
If your home bank has an agreement with a U.S. bank, you might even be able to skip the expensive ATM fees—check with your bank before you leave home so you know what to expect, and so they don't deactivate your card due to "odd charges." If you do pay a per-transaction fee, try to manage your withdrawals so you make a few larger transactions instead of a bunch of little ones.
SunTrust Bank ATMs are located throughout Terminals A and B of the airport, in both the secured and non-secured areas. Other ATMs close to the airport include:
- Bank of America—10419 Narcoossee Rd.
- Chase Bank—5189 S. Conway Rd.
- Citibank—3911 McCoy Rd.
- Wells Fargo—6491 S. Chickasaw Trl.
Currency Exchange Stores
If you have to (or prefer to) use a currency exchange store, you'll find a better rate once you’re outside the airport. A few options around the city include the Currency Exchange International, which has multiple locations, including:
- The Florida Mall, 8001 South Orange Blossom Trl.
- The Mall at Millenia, 4200 Conroy Rd.
- ICON Park, 8395 International Dr.
There's also the Money Exchange Bureau at 8000 International Dr. Ste. 112 and Travelex at 15657 South Apopka Vineland Rd.
The Bottom Line
Even though a currency exchange store advertises "no commissions or no fees," don’t assume there aren’t any hidden charges in the cash you receive. To make sure you know what kind of deal you’re getting—no matter where you exchange money—it’s a good idea to ask the clerk, "How many U.S. dollars will you give me?" before handing over any cash. Don’t settle for just the exchange rate; ask for the actual dollar amount you will receive in exchange for X amount of your home currency.
A currency converting app can be useful whenever you exchange money. These apps let you enter the type and amount of currency you want to exchange, and then calculate how much you can get at the current rate. Free apps like XE Currency and GlobeConvert are available for both iOS and Android phones. Use these apps to evaluate how good a deal you're being offered—and decide whether to take it and how much money to exchange at that vendor.
Credit cards provide an alternative to paying in cash—as well as allowing you to limit the amount of cash you need to exchange and carry with you. However, many credit cards charge hefty foreign transaction fees that can add 2% to 3% to the cost of each purchase. If you travel frequently, or even if you’re planning on using your card a lot on just one trip, it’s worth looking into a zero foreign transaction fee credit card.