If you’re heading abroad soon, here are our seven tips to get you the best from your travel money.
1. Watch For Card Fees
Most debit and credit cards are going to charge you both a fee to convert back to pounds, and a fee to use cash machines. They can be very expensive.
However, there are some that are actually the best way to pay. Halifax’s Clarity credit card is our top pick. It won’t charge a fee to pay or withdraw cash, though it does charge interest on any money you take from a cash machine.
Or you can get a current account from Norwich & Peterborough (worldwide) and Metro (In Europe only) which won’t charge you at all! Metro accounts are only available in branch – mainly in the South East, but you can apply online for the N&P one.
We took these two cards on a big trip and they saved us a fortune. Have a back up Visa though as we found in South America that MasterCard wasn’t taken everywhere.
2. Get The Best Exchange Rate On Cash
It’s easy to just pop to the bank or post office to get your money before you go. But you won’t necessarily get the best rate. Use the Travel Money Max comparison site to see where offers the most money.
It’s often cheaper to collect the money rather than have it posted. Also avoid exchanging at airports unless you really have to.
3. Pay In The Local Currency
If you’re paying by card and given the option of paying in pounds – don’t! Always pay in the local currency to get the best exchange rate.
4. Know What You Spend
Unless it’s a simple half it or divide by three kind of exchange rate, there’s every chance you won’t bother to figure out how much costs, or more likely just get it wrong. We use this handy app – Xe. Just select your currencies and enter in the amount you need to convert. What’s great is you don’t need to be online once you’ve updated the rate, so you’ll avoid costly data charges. Here’s our full Clever Site guide.
5. Are Taxes Included?
You’ll make a booking for a hotel and think you’ve a good deal. But are there any extras? Unlike the UK where taxes are all included, there may be additional payments – even if you’ve paid upfront. Find out before you book.
6. Let Your Bank Know You’re Going
I’ve been caught out here before. Everything is going fine for a couple of days then all of a sudden your card is declined. There’s a good chance it’s because your bank doesn’t know you are away and thinks it’s stolen!
7. Prepay As Much As You Can
Avoid carrying too much around with you by paying upfront where you can. Then before you go you know what you’ve spend and what you have left. It’s not just hotels – many excursions, buses, ferries and more can be prebooked.
If you can’t get one of the cards mentioned above and are worried about too much cash, you can instead get a prepaid card where you load money on upfront. There are fees, but they’re often lower than your standard credit or debit card and more convenient than travellers cheques. FairFx and CaxtonFX are the leading companies.