How do you get an exchange rate that is close to the fair market exchange rate when cashing a check in a foreign denomination? Banks seem to use their own fictional rates and claim they are fair, even though they clearly aren't.

In case details matter here:

I have recently closed a bank account in the UK and received a check for the money that remained in it. I want to move this money to a German bank. The bank's offered exchange rate is far worse than the "official" market exchange rate. It's enough money that it could be worth some effort for me to make sure I get a fair exchange rate. For instance, if buying some asset in the UK and selling it in Germany would result in a more efficient effective conversion rate, that would be something for me to consider. I would prefer if there simply was an online service for this, or something similar. TransferWise would do this, but they don't accept checks for some reason.

  • 1
    Use the money to buy a time machine and do the transfer before you closed your UK bank account? If you're unbanked, your options are limited. – Rupert Morrish Dec 27 '17 at 19:04
  • I could create a temporary account in the UK, bank the check there, then transfer the money and close the account again. It looks to me like that should be possible, but seems like a lot of work. Is there an easier alternative, or a way to do what I just described with minimum hassle? – Florian Dietz Dec 27 '17 at 20:29
  • What is the difference between the market rate and the offered rate? Without knowing the spread you are currently seeing, it's hard to know what would be worthwhile. A general idea of the principal balance would help with that too. ie: it would be worth a year of effort to save 5% on $1M, and less time than it takes to pose this question, to save 2% on 1k. – Grade 'Eh' Bacon Dec 28 '17 at 21:52
  • I would lose over $1k if I go with the offered rate instead of the market rate. The rate offered by transferwise would save more than half of that, but they don't take checks. If there is something else I could do with the same savings, it would be worth several days of work to me. – Florian Dietz Dec 28 '17 at 22:52

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