Five travel money dirty-tricks to avoid

Don’t you just love that holiday feeling. That moment at the airport when you begin to relax and start feeling that buzz of excitement.

What’s guaranteed to spoil your great mood is when some of your hard-earned cash disappears because of a travel money dirty-trick.

That’s why we’ve put together a list of 5 travel money scams to avoid, so you can keep that holiday feeling going for the whole of your trip.

Our latest investigation reveals that as a nation we lose £5.4bn a year through simple travel money mistakes. Here’s how to avoid travel money rip-offs and make your cash go further:

Avoid UK airport ATMs

Most UK airport ATMs dispense Euros and Dollars, usually a good thing if you have a FairFX Euro or Dollar Currency Card. However, if you’re not aware of it you can easily find yourself being charged in Pounds instead of Euros or Dollars, and then getting hit by hidden conversion fees.

Avoid being ripped-off by withdrawing your cash when you arrive at your destination or asking us to deliver cash straight to your door before you go.

Don’t use airport exchange desks either

UK airports are notorious for offering some of the worst exchange rates in the country.

Our research of 19 UK airports has shown that the average difference between the market rate for euros and the rate offered at the airport can be as much as 15%.

The best thing to do is buy your currency in advance of your trip, which means you effectively choose your exchange rate, rather than being forced to accept the very poor airport rate.

Always pay in local currency

Paying in pounds when abroad triggers a financial trap called Dynamic Currency Conversion which offers much poorer rates and additional fees applied by the merchant. These DCC fees can add an average of 7.74% to your transaction.

We've found that £490.4m is being lost by UK holidaymakers opting to pay in pounds - don’t be a part of that statistic, always insist on paying in the local currency.

To make more people aware of this issue we've worked with the Financial Times on an exposé highlighting why you should never agree to paying in pounds when abroad.

Read more about the travel money trick here >>

Don't leave it too late

One in ten people leave buying their travel currency until the last minute which means little choice over the exchange rate you receive. Start monitoring rates as soon as you know where you’re going and you can buy currency when the rate moves in your favour, locking-in the best value - our Rate Alert service will do this for you.

Use the right plastic

Think twice before reaching for your UK debit or credit card when you’re on holiday. Your UK bank card may have costly fees when you spend in a foreign currency, and you’re almost certain to get a poor rate.

Before using any service, make sure you check all fees and charges involved. For example, what is their foreign exchange fee? Do they charge a transaction fee or a “processing” fee?

FairFX looked into the ATM fees for 7 banks and found that the average ATM fee for debit cards was 2.53% with an average transaction fee of £1.39. While the average ATM fee for credit cards was 2.87%, plus a transaction fee of £2.57.

If you use your debit or card card for purchases abroad you’ll also find yourself out of pocket, as the average fee for using your debit card abroad was 2.71% and 2.80% for credit cards.

By defaulting to their existing UK debit or credit cards British travellers are currently paying millions more abroad than they need to because they’re using the wrong plastic.

Read more about our research on the BBC News website >>


daylight robbery infographic


Choose the right plastic the next time you go away by packing a FairFX Currency Card. You can lock-in a great rate in advance, spend fee-free in shops and restaurants, manage spending using our clever app, plus share funds with family and friends with additional linked cards.

Get a card

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