Millions of us will head off on our summer holidays over the next few months, but if you’re planning a trip overseas, make sure you don’t pay more than you need to for your travel money.
Lots of us rely on plastic to pay our way when we’re abroad, but simply using your standard debit or credit card could see you return home to some hefty charges. Here are our tips to help you get more bang for your buck this summer.
1) Check how much your card charges for overseas use
Most big banks charge a foreign transaction fee of around 2.75% to 2.99% when you pay using a debit or card abroad for purchases, and you’ll often be charged a similar amount every time you make a withdrawal too.
Iain Donachie, Head of Money Services at Tesco Bank, says: “Before you use your debit or credit card abroad to make purchases, it’s important to check with your bank whether you’ll be charged any fees for making purchases or withdrawing cash. Remember, when paying, choose the local currency as it will usually be cheaper than paying in your own currency.”
Some of the best credit cards for overseas use include the Barclaycard Rewards Visa card, which has no fees on overseas spending or cash withdrawals, and doesn’t charge interest on cash withdrawals provided they are paid back in full. Cardholders also benefit from 0/25% cashback on spending. Similarly, Halifax’s Clarity card doesn’t charge any fees on spending or cash withdrawals, but you will be charged interest on any cash withdrawals of up to 28.94%, until they are paid off.
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2) Never wait until the airport to change money
Exchange rates at airports are usually much worse than elsewhere, so make sure you plan where you’re going to get your holiday money from well before you leave. In some cases, airport fees and exchange rates can end up costing you from 10-15% more than if you change your money somewhere else.
One of the best tools to use to track down the best exchange rate can be found at Travelmoneymax.com, which is part of the MoneySavingExpert website. The site enables you to compare rates from around 40 online bureaux.
For example, when we checked the site just before the last May bank holiday weekebd, based on exchanging £500 into US dollars, the best bureau de change at that time was The Travel Club, offering $611.09 dollars at an exchange rate of 1.227 to the pound after all charges, including delivery.
In comparison, Thomas Exchange UK offered $590.45 euros in return for £500, at an exchange rate of 1.205, so around $20.64 less than if you’d gone with The Travel Club .
3) Consider a prepaid card
An alternative to taking a credit or debit card on holiday is a prepaid card, which you can load with the currency of your choice and then use for all your spending and withdrawals whilst you’re overseas. Exchange rates on these cards are usually favourable and you often get a set number of free cash withdrawals. It’s also safer to use a prepaid card than carrying around lots of cash.
For example, the Revolut prepaid card gives you access to 29 currencies and the first five cash withdrawals overseas are free, provided you take out no more than £200. If you withdraw more than this, you’ll be charged 2%. There are no exchange fees on most currencies if you exchange money on working days, although there’s usually a 1% charge if you do it at weekends.