High street travel money

Buying travel money from the high street

Buying high street travel money.

You’ll often find that the best exchange rates can be found when buying foreign currency online. But, if you need to get your hands on some travel cash immediately, or you’ve left it to the last minute, getting your travel money ‘offline’ might be the preferred option.

Shop around for your travel money

It’s well worth shopping around to compare rates from various exchanges, and you’ll become more aware of the traps too. You’ll see lots of foreign currency exchanges proudly advertising their money as ‘commission free’, but it doesn’t mean you’re going to get a great exchange rate. Rather than charge a commission, their rates will be high enough to cover their losses, so just like buying foreign currency online, you need to compare the total cost of the transaction. Check handling fees and minimum charges as these can make changing small amounts of money extremely expensive.

Avoid buying foreign currency at the airport

It’s worth planning ahead in order to avoid exchanging foreign money at airports, train or ferry terminals. You will get a poor deal from an airport’s bureaux de change, paying substantially more than you would at a competitive high street store such as Marks & Spencer. It’s probably best to avoid high street banks and building societies too as their rates aren’t always competitive. Check the ‘buy back’ rates as well. When you return from your travels you could find yourself with more spare foreign money than you expected. Some providers won’t charge you a fee for buying it back, but others do.

Check your travel money is insured

You should think about safety when you’re taking cash abroad. It’s worth taking a money belt with you, but more importantly, check your travel insurance and that you’re not taking more cash than your policy is covering. If your travel money gets stolen or lost, and you’re not covered, you can wave goodbye to your cash. Use common sense and the facilities available to you, such as hotel safety deposit boxes.

Pay in cash to avoid card fees

Finally, it could be a good idea to buy your travel money with cash to avoid paying credit/debit card fees completely. Some providers charge fees of around 2.5% when you use your card to purchase travel money. American Express, MasterCard and Visa credit cards apply these fees. It’s always worth checking the fees out with your credit card provider, and paying with a debit card could also mean a fee, so check with your bank first. By paying for your foreign currency with cash, you’ll avoid the fees completely.

If you’re interested in finding out about other ways to spend abroad, check out our guides to using a prepaid card overseas and using a debit card overseas, or have a look at buying foreign currency online.

Have a happy holiday.

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