The best and worst ways to spend abroad
Holiday season is in full swing and your travel money should be high on your list of priorities if you’re going away soon. So, what are your options?
Plan in advance: Don’t leave sorting travel money till the last minute. You will pay more for your currency if you buy it at the airport. Compare prices online before you leave to find the cheapest deal. If you have left it too late, booking your currency to pick up once you get to the airport will be cheaper than buying over the counter at the airport.
What is a good exchange rate? This really depends on the currency you’re buying and when. Keep an eye on the exchange rates in the lead up to your holiday and buy when you’re happy with the rate. If you’re still unsure, buy half now and half nearer to when you go.
How are you going to pay: This will depend where you’re going. Taking both cash and a card is the safest bet – you don’t want to have to use your card to withdraw money when you are away. The fees to do this are extortionate so avoid withdrawing cash on your debit or credit card when you’re abroad.
Worst ways to pay: Paying by debit card will often cost the most, but any card that isn’t designed to be used abroad will cost a bomb.
Work out the overall cost: Getting the best exchange rate on your travel money online isn’t always going to be your cheapest option. If you’ve got to pay a fee for delivery or the company charges commission the best exchange rate may not be the best value.
Shop around: The amount of currency you’ll get for your money will depend where you get it from. Do a proper comparison to make sure you are getting the best deal as most places have different rates.
Should you use a credit card while you’re away? Only if you find one that doesn’t charge you fees and offers a good exchange rate. This can be a safer way of spending because you’ll get Section 75 Protection and you won’t be carrying around a ton of cash. Remember though – it’ll only be cheaper if you pay your credit card balance off in full and on time.
How to keep tabs on your spending: Get a prepaid travel card and load it with the funds you can afford to spend. This can help you to cap your spending so you won’t have any regrets when you get home. Make sure you create a budget by working out how much you have to spend each day and have an emergency fund too, online calculators can be really handy for this. You can use a standard prepaid card too, but this will charge you the rate of exchange each time you use the card.
Never pay in pounds: When you are abroad always pay in the native currency. If you say yes to paying in pounds instead the establishment will use their own exchange rate to charge your bill which you have no control over.