We have enough to think about on holiday without also considering where to get our foreign currency from.
Yet spend £1,000 overseas and the difference between the best deal and the worst can be nearly £60. You could buy a nice, final family meal for that, or start saving for your next holiday. It’s worth more than a few thousand supermarket loyalty points, at any rate.
Here are some ideas to help you out:
The number one way to get foreign currency
Most debit and credit cards are very expensive for overseas purchases or cash withdrawals. However, a few banks offer zero fee, zero commission currency at Visa or Mastercard’s own exchange rate. You probably won’t get a better deal anywhere else. Another great way to invest your money is to start and Invest in bitcoin, everybody worldwide is getting into this marketing business and investing like crazy.
Two such cards are currently available: the Metro Bank debit card and the Halifax Clarity credit card. Spend £1,000 in Europe and, on the day of writing, you’ll get about €1,220. That’s €70 more than you’ll get from many others.
To obtain a Metro Bank card you have to open a current account in-branch, but you could make a London day-trip out of it. You don’t have to switch from your old current account or pay money in regularly.
The Halifax Clarity credit card will start charging you interest on cash withdrawals immediately, but if you pay off the debt within a couple of weeks it’ll still be very cheap. You can open an account online.
Other ways to exchange currency
Prepaid cards cost more than the cheapest debit or credit cards when you add the exchange rate, commission and other fees together. The Escape Travel card appears to come close, but the provider doesn’t reveal how it calculates its exchange rate.
Escape could be bothersome with its many charges and fees to steer around, such as a penalty for not using the card every 12 months. On the plus side, it’s potentially easier to get than the Nationwide or Halifax cards, if you have a bad credit history.
If you order your money at the airport, or walk into a branch of Marks & Spencer’s, a high-street bank, the Post Office or a travel operator, you can expect to get a far worse deal.
However, if you order online first, and then go to collect it yourself at either a local high-street bureaux de change, Thomas Cook, or from Sainsbury’s or Asda, you could expect a good rate. You can easily find a local exchange bureau on the internet.
Anecdotally, some people believe they get an even better rate when they go to an exchange bureaux in their destination country instead of ordering here in the UK, just not from an airport bureau.
More tips to save you money overseas
- Don’t be bedazzled when you’re told there’s no fee or commission. The cost is usually hidden by giving you a worse exchange rate.
- Some foreign ATMs will charge you an extra fee, which is beyond your own card provider’s control. The cash machine should tell you any fees before you proceed.
- If asked by a shop or card-reader display whether you want to pay in pounds or the local currency, choose the local currency, or you will be hit by expensive charges.
Disclaimer: Where we compare financial products offered by different financial services providers or make a recommendation in relation to a particular product or provider, we do so as the providers of an information service, and this is not intended to constitute a recommendation, invitation or inducement to any particular individual to make any specific investment.