Here’s how to get the best travel money deals around:
Many tourists will squander money by using expensive plastic or relying on banks and airport vendors to buy currency.
Choosing wisely before departure means more to spend on arrival – with a smug holiday feeling thrown in for free. Here is how you can get the best deal for travel money.
Buying online is the cheapest route, even if you then collect it yourself from a branch.
Turning up at a branch without having ordered online first will probably result in a poorer deal.
Frequently, rates offered in branches are not as good as they are online. Avoid the bureau de change at an airport, where rates are terrible
Anyone buying uncommon currencies should always place an order online as it gives a bureau time to stock up.
Eazyhols.com says: ‘Plan to buy your currency ten days before you depart. That allows enough time to place an order online and get delivery to your home. Suppliers tend to use Royal Mail special delivery as this is insured and requires a signature.’
HOW TO BEAT EXCHANGE RATE PITFALLS Beware the cashpoint trap.If asked on screen at an ATM whether you want the withdrawal ‘with conversion’ or ‘without’, choose without. Also, if asked by shops or restaurants whether you want to pay in pounds or the local currency, choose the latter. This means your card provider applies the exchange rate rather than the shop.
- Avoid using a high street bank for currency exchange unless you are offered a special rate that compares favourably to offers elsewhere.
- Remember ‘zero commission’ has little value any more. It is a marketing ploy that easily masks a poor exchange rate.
- Dodge the walk-up rate at airport bureaus. If you run out of time, buy online and collect at the airport.
For those wary of or without internet access, investigate in-branch rates offered by at least three local foreign exchange bureaux before settling on one.
Do not rely only on a bank for currency.
Prepaid travel cards are used the same way as any other bank cards – with chip and PIN – and feature either the Visa or Mastercard logos. This means they can be used in most shops and restaurants worldwide.
Some cards can even be used with contactless technology, such as Post Office cards, which means customers can wave them over a terminal to pay rather than waiting to tap in a PIN.
Cards are topped up by transferring funds from a bank account, at which point the money is converted into a chosen currency.
The rate of conversion is usually more competitive than what is offered for cash at high street banks or bureaux.
Though adding funds to a card is easy, it does not have direct access to a customer’s bank account. So, if euros on a card are depleted, no more can be spent until the card is topped up again.
It the card is stolen, thieves can only take what is on the card. Some cards can be blocked as soon as a customer realises it is missing. Or a second card linked to the account can be used to withdraw all the cash before a thief gets their hands on it.
The most common cards are offered in euros, dollars or pounds. The latter can be used worldwide wherever the cards are accepted for payment.
A foreign exchange rate is applied on the spot rather than when the card is first topped up.
Brits will travel abroad in their millions between now and Christmas. As a result, more than £9bn is likely to be converted to foreign currency between now and December
Be mindful of fees, especially with sterling cards which tend to be more punitive. Inactivity charges may also apply when a card is not used for more than a year. Allow plenty of time before travel – at least two weeks – for cards to be ordered, delivered, activated and topped up.
Using plastic to pay on holiday will please or punish, depending on which one you choose.
Using the wrong one can lead to a poor exchange rate and a layering of penalties – such as non-sterling transaction fees and withdrawal fees from cashpoints.
But good cards will secure the best exchange rate and have few or no charges attached. But you will need to pay off the credit card in full each month to benefit.
Overseas shops and cashpoints may apply their own separate fees for tourists using cards, which you should ask about before paying.
Top-pick cards , Post Office Platinum they offer bank-beating exchange rates and there are no additional fees for purchases abroad.
There is little point telling last-minute planners to be more organised and buy currency early.
But for leopards with no desire to change their spots, better choices can still be made at the eleventh hour. Most currency providers will deliver cash straight to your door the next day – and for free if above certain amounts, typically around £500.
If home delivery is not an option because of time restraints, use the ‘click and collect’ option when comparing rates online. Better rates will be achieved by paying online then collecting in store. This option is available even if there are only a few hours left before departure.
It is also possible to collect cash from an exchange bureau based at the airport you are flying from – beating the walk-up rate.
Some countries prevent tourists from buying currency before departing the UK – for example, India, Ghana and Cuba. These are known as ‘closed currencies’.
There are also countries where the currency is not technically closed, but is hard to buy before landing at your destination because the exchange rate is so volatile.
Fee-free overseas credit cards or sterling prepaid cards are the best way to circumvent this problem. Use one of these cards to withdraw cash once you land or simply use as normal in shops and restaurants, especially if you are likely to be staying in built-up areas.
Alternatively, you can take some cash in pounds and exchange a small sum at your destination, before using a prepaid card to withdraw any remaining sum needed to last the holiday.