Travelex was founded in central London by Lloyd Dorfman in 1976. The foreign exchange company focuses primarily on bureau de change services, travel money, pre-paid travel credit cards and international payments.
In November 2000 Travelex expanded operations by purchasing the Thomas Cook worldwide foreign exchange company for £440 million.
In 2010 Travelex sold its card programme management division to MasterCard for £290 to reduce debts and in 2011 Travelex sold its global business payments division to Western Union for £606 million.
Travelex serves over 37 million customers annually in 1,400 stores and 1,250 ATMs in 26 countries, at airport, seaport, rail and tourist locations.
Over 40% of the world’s travellers pass through airports where Travelex’s bureau de change stores are located including Amsterdam, Beijing, Frankfurt, London, Hong Kong, Mumbai, New York, Paris, Sydney and Tokyo.
Stores are located across many retail locations worldwide, making collecting one of the 60 available currencies of travel money easy. Delivery to home or office locations are free for amounts over £1,000/$1,000 in locations such as London or NYC.
A fee of £3.99 is charged for a buy back guarantee, allowing client to re-sell leftover travel money at the same rate it was purchased.
Currency can be purchased by preloading into a Travelex multi currency or globe cash passport MasterCard
Travelex provides remittances services in its branch locations through a partnership with Western Union.
£300 minimum transfer
46 supported currencies
Best international payments price promise
24/7 customer service online
Spot transfers and Regular payments
Forward contracts and Limit orders
Corporate accounts enjoy good exchange rates with big companies like Western Union and OFX, especially for transfers of very large sums, so this may be the area where Travelex’s better exchange rates are seen. Travelex’s online currency exchange hasn’t proved the best rate for spot transfers of 10,000 euro when compared to P2P companies, but larger rates are likely to be a better value for business clients.
A currency calculator feature gives visitors the option of seeing a quick spot transfer rate or a rapid passport card reload. The rate shown is 1.136 GBP to USD when the actual mid- market rate was 1.422 GBP to USD, so the rate of exchange can immediately be seen to be uncompetitive. These are the best rates Travelex offers, so purchases in any of the 1,400 stores and 1,250 ATMs will incur additional fees.
With 23 Travelex globally translated websites, the branding changes only slightly with emphasis consistently on bureau de change services which promise to charge no commission on travel money which can be ordered online and collected at airports.
Little content serving travellers is available on any site except those serving US and the UK where Travel hub pages have articles geared to interest holiday travellers. The site isn’t particularly user friendly, speeding visitors to buy travel money online is its major function.
Travelex has an 8.8 out of 10 star review on TRUSTPILOT with 18,705 reviews. Complaints regarding fees include disappointment with very poor currency exchange rates. Recently a traveller exchanged euro for Canadian dollars at Heathrow’s Travelex branch, noting Travelex’s online rate of exchange was 1.39. He was ‘double charged for conversion fees’ resulting in receiving a rate of 1.21, much less than his calculation online through Travelex might have been.
Yelp Reviews award Travelex 2.5 stars out of 5 with 23 reviews. Consistent complaints about very bad exchange rates that don’t match Travelex’s advertised rates of exchange abound. Significant losses are reported when clients use currency buy-back guarantee and find they’re again out of pocket for more than their banks would charge.
Travelex Passport Travel cards are rated 1.7 out of 5 on ReviewCentre with only 17% of clients recommending them. Numerous issues regarding reloading cards kept many holiday travellers unable to access the money they’d loaded. Other issues regard customer service which was described as ‘robotic’ by clients spending hours on telephone ( at long distance rates) frustrated by an inability to resolve card issues. Also hidden rates, card not compatible with many ATMs were reported universally.
Travelex’s partnerships with other large industry firms implies an established leadership role in foreign exchange, however bigger, well established firms like Western Union sacrifice good rates for spot transfers for convenience. If Travelex cards worked well they’d mitigate paying high rates for bureau de charge travel money, but since the cards aren’t a good value, travellers should be aware of the problems before trusting them abroad. Lastly the bad rate of exchange for leftover travel money reduces the score for Travelex to 2 out of 5 stars.
Travelex card offers convenient travel cash option to bureau de change travel cash. Free delivery of travel money where available is also a time savings. The international currency exchange services bring depth to Travelex’s services which other bureau de change firms don’t offer.
ATM and airport bureau de change exchange rates are a notoriously poor value as are Western Union spot transfers. Transparency is an issue often complained about at the bureau de change branches because Travelex doesn’t deliver the same rate of exchange their online rate advertises.