Our youth group used to collect newspapers, cans, and
bottles for recycling when I was a kid.
We used the money to help pay for trips, etc. On collection day, my friend Andy and I would
volunteer to help unload the stuff from the donators and load it into the
truck. We used to check the bottles as
we loaded them, because some of them were worth a bit more than the others when
you would return them to collect their deposits. In those days, Pepsi bottle was worth five
cents, but some root beer bottles were worth six cents, etc. There was one particular beer bottle that was
worth a dime! I never understood how
those same sized bottles could vary so much in value.
I think the same thing about international exchange
rates when I travel out of the country.
Sure, I know the rate will fluctuate a tiny bit every day, but wouldn’t
you think that there would be a single source of that information that all of
the banks, hotels, and other business would use to do their business? It’s not so!
At the end of one business day while in
no less than five different exchange rates that were forced upon me as I ate
meals, etc. “How on earth,” I inquired
to myself, “Am I going to account for all of this on my expense
If you don’t have a meticulous manager or auditor who
insists that you use the official internationally established exchange rate,
broken down and accounted for on each day of your trip, then you’re lucky. I had a manager ask me to do that once, and
when it all boiled out of the kettle, I ended up spending an extra hour of time
to re-do each day of my expense report and I saved the company a whopping $1.37
What I do now is collect exchange rates! Any receipt or printed notification from my
hotel, a bank, internationally accepted source from the internet, etc, I copy
it and I keep it. Eventually when I get
home and settle in to do my expense report, I’ll pull out all of the referenced
exchange rates, and I’ll simply use the one that is best for me. For example, let’s say that I stay in a hotel
spend 1,000 British Pounds for the week.
If the exchange rate was 1.5 dollars for every 1 pound, then I would
have spent $1,500 to stay there in U.S. Dollars. If the exchange rate was 1.48, then I would
have spent $1,480. If I were to use the
exchange rate of 1.5 when I do the expense report, I’d get reimbursed $20 more
than if I’d use the other one.
Be sure to consult your travel policies, of
course. No matter how many bottles Andy
and I found, we weren’t allowed to keep them at the end of the day. We still had to turn them in. Most companies have a policy that will
certainly govern the willy-nilly use any random exchange rate, but if you can
produce proof that your hotel used a rate that differed from the international
rate at the time (it happens all the time), then you’ll certainly want your
EXTRA: If you have
questions for Ken regarding business travel, hotels, airplanes, etc, please send an email! Your questions
will be recorded and Ken will answer the best ones in his Ask the
Expert podcast show.