Easy Travel Money "Top 10 Tips" to get more from your travel money
Buy your currency before you leave. When you are abroad, ATMs, bureaux de change and hotel concierges can be costly, with poor exchange rates, high commission levels and hidden fees.
Take a little more money than you think you need. Most travel money companies offer a 'buyback' service, where they will buy your currency back at the same rate you bought it. The fact is, most people will top up their spending money when on holiday, which can be tricky when some foreign banks close over the weekend. This can be costly, with cash withdrawal charges, and 'foreign exchange' charges estimated to cost Brits £300m in 2008 – in addition to a poor exchange rate.
If using a bureau de change overseas – haggle! Like most things in life, if you ask for a discount, you may well get one – especially if you offer to exchange more currency.
Pool together with friends and family – you may get a better exchange rate if you are transacting a larger amount.
What's the first thing you'll need cash for when you land? Probably a taxi, for which you'll need small denominations of currency for tips. Make sure you understand the tipping system and take a suitable amount of small notes – you won't want to tip your hotel porter with a €50 note!
Be aware of tourist traps. There are reputable organisations offering great exchange rates in high tourism areas (e.g. London's Oxford Street), although there are a fair share of 'cowboy' outfits who will offer you dire rates and steep commission charges. Check the exchange rate online, before you buy, to make sure you're getting the best deal possible.
Don't keep all of your cash in one place. Pick-pocketing in high volume tourist areas is common, and you won't want to lose everything in one go. Leave most of your cash in a hotel safe for extra security.
If you are getting currency at the airport, order currency for collection before you travel. It is common knowledge that you will get an inferior rate of exchange at the airport due to high operating costs. However, if you pre-order your currency online, you will receive a much better rate, and still be able to collect your currency at the airport. For example, if you turned up at Gatwick airport on 2 December 2010 and bought currency, you would receive a rate of 1.08, but by pre ordering, you would receive 1.10 – an extra €10 spending money.
If you don't have time to visit a bureau before you travel, and you don't want the airport rate, get a currency delivery to your home. This is a safe and convenient way to get currency, and you will generally get more for your money than using a bureau de change.
Bear in mind that many banks and credit card companies will block foreign transactions as a means of fraud protection, if you forget to inform your bank you are going overseas. It's worth taking extra cash in case this happens.