Foreign Currency Express (FCE) is probably the best rates you can get in Los Angeles and Orange County. It’s a couple blocks from my office so it’s super convenient for me. There are two Fx Converter sites people use, which are XE and Oanda. The rates aren’t far off from the rates on those sites/apps.
There are two ways currency exchange shops make money, which are tax the exchange rate, charge a fee, or both. FCE doesn’t charge a fee but they do tax the exchange rate. In other words, they will take down or up the exchange rate to make money. In other words, they will give you an exchange rate of 1.07 for Euros instead of the current market rate of 1.03. It’s much better than other places at the airport, which is the LAST place you want to go to exchange money.
Here is the thing. If you’re buying currency that’s heavily traded, FCE will give you a better rate. If you’re buying currency that’s not heavily traded, FCE will kind of rape you on the rate. They usually don’t charge me more than $10-15 if it’s heavily traded for $800-1,000. It’s about $20-25 for the same amount for currency not heavily traded.
Overall, I usually charge it on my card but there are times where I need cash like paying for drugs. Unfortunately, they are still far behind on technology, don’t accept credit cards, and don’t have Square. I don’t even think they have VenMo or Paypal. It’s a booming business but they need to get their technology updated.
Anyway, I go to FCE due to their rates and it’s super convenient for me. The bad news is you can’t avoid paying a fee on exchanging foreign currency. The good news is I just saved a lot of money on my car insurance.