Exchanging your money into foreign currency for holidays can sometimes cause travelers to incur losses due to exchange rates or exchange fees. But as more Britons return to the skies, two travel money experts have shared their top tips to ensure hopeful vacationers get the best rates possible.
According to Simon Phillips, director of travel money specialist No1 currencyit all starts with research and planning.
For those who have secured travel plans, the expert urged people not to leave their holiday currency until the last minute.
He explained: “It is always best to buy your foreign currency before you travel.
“This gives you a chance to shop around for the best deal, help your pounds further, and avoid the awful exchange rates usually offered at airport exchange offices.”
And while many retailers and restaurants have switched to contactless payments since the pandemic, says Michael Foote, editor-in-chief of the travel money comparison site. QuoteGoat said travelers should not rely solely on card payments.
He explained: “Leaving it to the last minute will cost you dearly exchanging your money at the airport or going abroad with only a standard credit or debit card to use.
“If you use a standard debit or credit card to buy items abroad, you’ll probably have to pay a fee every time you make a purchase, usually three to six percent, which can add up significantly if you’re gone for a few weeks.”
By planning ahead, Brits can track the current exchange rate and pick a time when their chosen currency looks most fertile.
Mr Foote explained: “The exchange rate tells us how much of one currency we can exchange for another.
The exchange rate will be locked in if you choose to exchange cash before you go.
“Exchange rates go up and down all the time depending on supply and demand.
“Maybe you’re lucky and get more bang for your buck before you fly, or you might get a better price when you arrive.”
While vacationers can shop between travel money shops, the QuoteGoat expert recommends turning your attention to the Internet.
He said, “If you want to bring some cash, you’ll almost always get a better price online, so you have to factor in the time it takes for your money to be delivered.”
As an alternative, travelers should opt for a challenger bank card.
Challenger banks such as Starling and Monzo allow customers to make card transactions abroad at the current exchange rate without being charged.
Mr Foote said: “While you can get comparable exchange rates when you compare cash and cards, if you use the right card your money will go further with a card.
“The right card depends on who you bank with or the type of card you plan to carry.
“If you use a card from challenger banks such as Monzo or Starling, they will not charge you for using your card abroad.
“Other options include taking out a travel credit card or reloading a prepaid travel card before you fly so you don’t have to pay any fees for purchases.
“If you use cards abroad that are designed to be used abroad for free, you often get a near-perfect exchange rate.”
But even if you find the right map, planning ahead is essential.
Mr Foote added: “Give yourself plenty of time to apply for a card if you opt for a travel credit card or a challenger bank card such as Monzo or Starling.”