When travelling, the last thing you want to do is the mental math of converting the price tag to your home currency. How much do you divide this by? How much do you multiply? Do I add a little on top or subtract a little?
Many years ago, there we discovered a nifty little tool called the Oanda Currency Cheat Sheet (also called fxCheatSheet) that was a low-tech printout of currency exchange numbers. While yes, you could totally pull out Google or a foreign exchange app, this remarkable simple currency conversion cheat sheet is something that I always keep in the wallet
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- Insurance – Make sure you’re covered and learn more about where to buy the best travel insurance.
Here's what we're covering:
- The Original Oanda Currency Converter
- New Currency Conversion Cheat Sheet Tool For Travellers
- Frequently Asked Questions
The Original Oanda Currency Converter
The very first version of the pocket-sized currency conversion cheat sheet came from a Canadian foreign exchange company called Oanda and is the inspiration for the latest version we have today.
For those that know about them, have used them, and wonder where they’ve gone, here’s a bit of background information and a little nostalgia as well.
How we first discovered them
When we did our epic summer backpacking trip through Asia, I randomly stumbled upon their currency converter. Similar to Xe.com, they offered live-updated exchange rates for currencies around the world.
It worked well and what really set Oanda apart from Xe was the fact that they had the ability to put in an interbank rate and also something called a “Traveler’s Cheatsheet”.
A handy printable currency converter
Over the years, Oanda has evolved their cheatsheet. It started off being called the Oanda fxCheatSheet, then became Traveler’s Cheatsheet, and finally it was integrated into the currency converter tool.
In the past few years, you could tell that there wasn’t as much of an emphasis on the Oanda cheat sheet.
What happened to the tool?
What started off as a brilliant printable currency converter simply disappeared in the wind. As priorities changed with Oanda and their need to update the user interface forced the platform to evolve, they simply removed it completely at the end of 2021.
We’ve reached out to Oanda a couple of times to find out if there are any plans to bring it back but we never heard back.
It’s safe to say that it’s now gone forever.
That is….until we had a brilliant idea from one of our readers!
New Currency Conversion Cheat Sheet Tool For Travellers
Quick cheat sheets on currency exchange are a must-have while travelling from our years of experience and we still say that now despite the ease of access to apps and cellular data.
Building the new currency conversion cheat sheet
Taking the Oanda cheat sheet as inspiration, reader, Karen Golec decided to build her own tool in Excel to do the exact same thing.
She kindly reached out to us and all we did was jazz it up a bit and make it easier to use within Google Sheets.
Using the currency conversion cheat sheet
The printable currency converter works very similarly to how it did before except a few things:
- You will need to grab the actual foreign exchange rates from a tool like Xe or Oanda. You will enter these into the tool.
- When printing the sheet, you’ll have to use Google’s print options to get it to look the way you want. Our recommendation is to switch it to vertical orientation and scale it to 50%-60%.
- A new row was added to account for currencies that are higher in denomination such as the Japanese Yen and the Indian Rupee. The cheat sheet now goes up to 50,000.
- A 2.5% interbank rate was added for Canadian credit cards.
How to read the currency conversion cheat sheet
There are a lot of numbers on the cheat sheet. How exactly should a traveller be using this printable currency converter?
The example above is for someone that wants to converts Canadian Dollars to Euros.
When you’re in a European Union country such as the Netherlands, you’ll look at the right hand side of the chart. Let’s say you want to buy something that’s 500 EUR using a credit card and want to figure out how much it’ll be on your statement, you’ll see that it’s $706.15 CAD.
How about the left hand side? This is the exact inverse of what you see on the right side with the interbank rate factored in. Normally, you won’t use this side of the cheat sheet much but if you’re in a bind and want to see how much the home currency in your pocket (CAD) can be worth if converted to EUR, this is a general guide.
That said, the rate wouldn’t be the most accurate since the above example has the interbank rate set to 3% which is the average for most credit card foreign transaction fees. If you end up changing money at a kiosk, this will be much higher (5%).
What is the interbank rate?
The interbank rate is a term that comes from Oanda’s tool that essentially represents the additional cost that financial institutions (banks, credit cards, and currency exchange kiosks) will charge on top of the real exchange rate. This is essentially a transaction fee as a way of making money.
This is a general rule of thumb:
- ATMs charge a 2% fee
- Credit cards on average charge 3% (in Canada the foreign transaction fee is 2.5%)
- Exchange kiosks charge 5% or higher
For the tool, you pick the rate you want to use depending on whether you think you’ll be using your credit card the most, cash exchanged at a kiosk, or withdrawing from an ATM.
Why use a pocket-sized and printable currency cheat sheet over an app?
This is the elephant in the room I’m sure. Why go through all the trouble of using this tool, entering the numbers, printing it, and laminating it as well?
To a large extent, this is a preference for travellers that like to have something in their hands. You’re willing to sacrifice live-market numbers for a quick-look chart that can give you a good idea of how much something costs.
For us, a big reason why we continue to use the currency conversion cheat sheet is because we can apply an interbank rate so you get a bit more of an accurate picture of how much something is really going to cost you.
Lastly, by using a printout like this, you can also avoid pulling out your phone in a busy market if safety is concern.
Frequently Asked Questions
The Oanda currency converter cheat sheet no longer exists and can’t be found on the website anymore.
The currency conversion cheat sheet tool is for members only. There is a sign up form in the article that will provide you access.
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