With the dark nights drawing in and the weather getting colder, you may be tempted to head off to sunnier climes. But while you may get a last minute bargain on the trip, it pays to think of a few things in advance to ensure you’re not losing out on your holiday money.
Avoid getting your currency at the airport. The bureaux de change there know you don’t have any other options by that point so you will be hit with poor exchange rates.
Check whether your existing credit and debit cards can be used abroad for free and without any hidden charges. You need to be sure you can use them to both pay for things and to withdraw money from ATMs.
Amid the current political uncertainty, currency fluctuations are inevitable so check the rates regularly. Shop around. The traditional banks are unlikely to offer the best deals. Comparative websites like CompareHolidayMoney.com and TravelMoneyMax.com show consumers the best exchange rates and a map of where they can order online and collect in person.
See what the newer online banks such as Monese, Monzo and Starling offer with their debit cards. They can be quite flexible and offer good conversion rates. Building Societies can also be a useful option.
Investigate pre-paid travel cards. Check whether you have any left from a previous holiday and top them up online. If not, pick up a new one from any of the large supermarket stores that have a foreign exchange bureau. Most can be used without incurring a fee abroad.
Alternatively, get a Travelex card in person from an airport. Once you’ve got your card you can register and activate it over the internet. You can then transfer money onto it from your bank account at preferential online rates.
Be aware that many providers will operate a two tier system for ordering ‘cash in hand’ currency. You’ll pay a higher price if you just walk in off the street than if you’d ordered your currency online and gone into the branch of the same provider. So it’s always worth ordering online and collecting in person if you can, even if you’re due to depart in just a few hours. In fact, some providers will let you pick up Euros, dollars or prepaid cards from an airport branch just four hours after placing an online order.
Happy holidays and hassle-free spending!