Half a croissant, on a plate, with a sign in front of it saying '50c'
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Multi-currency cash machine

Airport ATM to dispense many/all major currencies from any bank card.
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I have no idea whether this works for bank cards issued by banks in other countries, or for all conventional credit cards, but I'll assume so, or admit this is a UK/Euro-centric idea.
I can put my bank card into any cash machine in Europe and take out cash at the instantaneous exchange rate, with no commission. (I can also do this with my credit card, but for cash and shop transactions it costs a fee. With the debit card there is no fee). Taking cash out in this way is actually cheaper than 'buying' currency in your home country, because your bank at home will set different 'sell' and 'buy' exchange rates, to make money on the rate rather than have to call it commission. However, on arrival in a country which uses a different currency, it is useful to have at least some of that money in cash - but you may not be able to find a cash machine in the arrival airport, or it may be defective, or too late at night (many other reasons). So, I think it would be useful for departure lounges in airports to have cash machines which dispense a number of different currencies. This would ensure that when you arrive you would not have to be locally penniless, but could have taken out at least as much cash as you might need for the taxi into town to your hotel, at the instantaneous exchange rate rather than your bank's inflated 'sell' rate.
No, I don't know how this would do the service providers any good, other than create some goodwill. Presumably, if it was a popular service, the sheer volume of money being taken out of these machines would justify itself, and perhaps a half-percent tweak to the exchange rate of the most popular few currencies would enable a slight profit for the bank or consortium of banks which provided this. Ironically though, this may be a service which would be more necessary or highly desired in small airports in obscure countries.

Consumer advice: Budapest Ferihegy airport has a cash machine in the baggage hall. Thankfully, because you can't buy Hungarian Forints outside the country.

Also I've thought about posting an idea for a sort of 'international airspace' for mobile phones, so that when past the passport control gates, your phone runs on a sort of tax-free system, so that all calls are taken as national rate, rather than international. Would it raise the standing charges for people who only use mobiles in their own country? Probably, but it's so expensive anyway - would you notice? I guess it's just another goodwill gesture; for people who take their mobiles on holiday, but only to call from the airport on the way back to warn their friends picking them up if there is a delay. Thought that was perhaps not too common a situation.
sappho, Jul 18 2002

(?) Baked on a Festival Cruises ship, it would seem http://www.royalban...ew/retailDirect.htm
[DrCurry, Jul 20 2002, last modified Oct 05 2004]

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       Automating money changing seems sensible, and this is probably a good way of doing it, billing a credit card or bank card. But most credit cards charge an additional fee for cash advances (and in some countries ATMs charge for any withdrawals), so I would expect this service would not be free.   

       I'm not convinced about the cellphone thing: it's a lot of admin for what you say is "not too common a situation".
pottedstu, Jul 18 2002
  

       Though this may seem a UK-centric idea, it is actually baked in the Charlotte, NC, USA airport, or at least it was a few years ago. I haven't flown internationally through Charlotte in some time. If I remember correctly, that machine did not charge an exchange fee, but the way they paid for the service was with a rather unfavorable exchange rate.
beauxeault, Jul 18 2002
  

       The problem is getting the foreign currency into the ATM. That is, getting the currency into the ATM isn't a problem, but you'll surely be charged for the ATM owner's inconvenience as [pottedstu] suggests.
phoenix, Jul 18 2002
  

       Semi baked at my local UBS branch in Geneva: I can choose to take out either Swiss Francs or Euros. (I'm not sure how much "commission" is charged by using a poor exchange rate - but knowing UBS it's probably quite hefty.)
Gordon Comstock, Jul 19 2002
  

       having arrived at airports only to find the "bureau de change" locked up tight, and having to resort to "taxi driver exchange rates" this gets my half baked pastry
senatorjam, Jul 20 2002
  

       Might need quite a lot of room, which might slightly defeat the point if it has to be the size of a normal exchange booth!   

       I like it though - would make cash exchanges much more commonplace, which must have a positive knock on effect on international commerce...   

       So for that, have a croissant.   

       International Airspace for phones would be tough to make work purely for the fact that the microwave signals screw up aeroplane navigation systems...
Seaneeboy, Jan 24 2003
  

       A company I used to work for made the note handling mechanisms for ATM's. We had some variants that could cope with multi currencies.
oneoffdave, Jan 24 2003
  

       Another solution is to offer currency exchange on the plane. My girlfriend's father was an early investor in a company that was going to do this on a big scale. The lawsuits started before they even came close to introducing the service. He got out, and I think the whole enterprise collapsed before it could get off the ground (so to speak).   

       I thought it was a surefire moneymaker.
snarfyguy, Jan 24 2003
  

       This is a good idea, although practicality might be an issue, as has been stated.   

       Re: The international mobile phone.   

       (1) Why not make this a seperate item? (2) Baked. When I went to Israel I saw ads for international cellphones. Also, at Ben-Gurion Airport in Tel-Aviv, and probably in a lot of other international airports, you can rent local cellphones and service.
disbomber, Apr 06 2005
  
      
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