5 tips for getting the best exchange rate for your travel money

Travel money is often an afterthought when it comes to organising a holiday. You book the flight and hotel in advance but leave travel money to the last minute – that’s a mistake.

If you don’t plan ahead with your currency, you could end up having considerably less to spend on your travels.

With a little forward planning, and our tips on getting the best exchange rate, you can spend more on what you like on your next break.


1. Follow the pound

If you’re booking your holiday before you’ve checked exchange rates, you may find yourself booking accommodation and flights for a country that has unfavourable exchange rates.

The pound has struggled against popular currencies such as the euro and the US dollar, but you may be able to get more favourable exchange rates in other desirable destinations.

Look at where the pound has performed well over the long run and you can find destinations where your travel budget could go further.

One country with better exchange rates for Brits is Argentina, where the pound goes nearly 50% further today than it did two years ago, and an incredible 190% further vs five years ago.

Argentina has a lot to offer. Take Mendoza for example, famed for its wine and world-class steak, where leafy streets are lined with modern and art deco buildings. Mendoza even made it into our list of top foodie destinations for a romantic getaway.


2. Compare like-for-like rates

The foreign currency market is very dynamic and rates often change from one minute to the next. If you’re looking to find the best rate from a foreign exchange supplier, remember to compare rates at the same point in time.

This is easier to achieve online, but if you’re phoning around for quotes, try to keep the calls with the shortest time frame possible to get an even comparison.

And don’t be fooled by no commission.

You’ve no doubt seen ‘no commission’ signs along the high street or at airport kiosks. But ‘no commission’ promotions usually mask poor exchange rates. Make sure you are comparing the amount of foreign currency you get for your pounds, not just the rate in the shop window.


3. Avoid leaving currency to the last minute

Keep an eye on exchange rates in the weeks and months before you travel and you can effectively choose the best exchange rate for you.

And if you break up your currency purchases into smaller chunks throughout the year you can also spread the cost of your holiday and protect against dips in the exchange rate.

Whatever you do, don’t leave buying travel money until the last minute. In the last quarter of 2016 airport rates were as much as 26 percent different from the market rate, which is nothing short of shocking. Waiting until the last minute means you’ll have no choice about what rate you get.


4. Sign up to Rate Alerts

If you don’t have time to track exchange rates, ask an expert to do it for you. Sign up to our Rate Alert service and we’ll let you know when the exchange rate is in your favour.

With our FairFX Prepaid Euro Mastercard® and Dollar Card you can lock in an exchange rate when the pound is having a good day. This means you’ll get more to spend on your travels and you’ll avoid being hit by a fall in the exchange rate when you are travelling.

Load our currency card with smaller amounts throughout the year and by the time you travel you’ll have squirrelled away the spending money you need for your trip.

Any money loaded on the FairFX Card is not protected by the FSCS.


5. Avoid the double exchange rate dupe

When you use cards overseas to withdraw cash or pay in shops and restaurants, you’ll often be given the option to pay in pounds rather than local currency.

You may find it easier to track your spending when you pay in pounds, but you’re paying the price.

If you pay in Sterling, the vendor or ATM is able to decide the rate that is used to convert your transaction from, for example, euros, back into Sterling. This conversion is charged at an average of 6% of your transaction value – but can be as high as 10% on top of whatever you spend.

That’s a lot, and it all adds up to you being able to spend less on the things you enjoy on holiday. Make sure you always pay in the local currency to get the best exchange rate.

FairFX Currency Cards are ready for action, wherever you are. Order a FairFX Currency Card to get great rates and take control of your travel money

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