Published On: Mon, Feb 12th, 2018

Foreign currency: How to get the best exchange rates for your money | Travel News | Travel

Changing money to euros or any other currency is an issue riddled with bad exchange rates, handling fees and hidden costs, which can give travellers a sore head and lighter wallet.

Follow these tricks to ensure you’re getting the best exchange rates for your money. 

Compare currency rates

The best thing to do is shop around and compare currency rates before you commit. 

Using online travel money comparison tools will allow you to compare rates and determine how much money you’ll be left with after any fees and charges. 

Be suspicious of “commission-free” deals

A commission free deal sounds great, right? But, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. 

According to currency expert FairFX, zero commission deals are a con and are more likely to have fees loaded into the rate and in some cases have shortchanged holidays by up to £100. 

Minimum charges can make it more expensive to change small amounts of money. 

Also be aware of handling fees (the fee charged by the seller to carry out the exchange) which can tot up your final bill. 

Whatever you do – don’t exchange at the airport

According to the Post Office, every year more than £21 million is wasted on buying currency at the last minute at UK airports. This is due to poor exchange rates and commission charges on lower-value transactions. 

As a captive customer an airport’s bureau de change can charge pretty much any price they want. 

Expect distorted rates that don’t represent good value for money.

If you must change currency at the airport, pre-order for pick-up to get a better rate. 

As a rule of thumb, always do this at least four hours beforehand. 

Know your debit card charges

It’s easy for travellers to fall into the trap of using their debit cards without realising the hidden costs attached. 

Many UK debit cards not only charge a load and ATM fee, but also charge up to £1.50 every time you spend on them. 

This means, after loading and spending fees, a £5 transaction could cost you £6.65. 

Whilst an extra £1 here or there doesn’t seem too troublesome, this would soon add up over the course of a holiday. 

Opt for a pre-paid card

If you’re going on holiday and don’t want to carry huge amounts of cash on you, then a pre-paid card is a good alternative. 

They’re simple and easy to use: just load money onto the card before you go and then use the card to withdraw cash from ATMs or make purchases in shops and restaurants. 

The best pre-paid charges include Mastercard’s Revolut, which has good interbank rates and no spending fees, and Monzo which is completely fee-free when abroad.   

Do research about what kind of card if best for you, before you apply. 

Some providers don’t charge exchange fees, but may charge an initial set-up fee or charge you for ATM withdrawals. 

Others charge ‘inactivity fees’, such as Ryanair’s Cash Passport which charges up to £2.50 a month if users don’t use their card for six months. 

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