I recently went to withdraw some cash in another country from an HSBC ATM. A screen popped up after I entered the amount and HSBC offered to do the currency exchange locally rather than let my bank make the conversion.
The problem is that HSBC’s offered exchange rate was really terrible – nearly 7% less that my bank’s exchange rate.
There was no way to tell that was the case from their ATM. I just happened to be watching the exchange rate closely and didn’t fall for it.
If you’re traveling internationally don’t accept a currency exchange from the local bank when you make an ATM withdrawal. Like HSBC, they may just be trying to scam you for sweet, sweet unearned profit.
Instead let your own bank do the exchange. You’ll almost certainly get a significantly better rate.