Playing the currency game
Ah, holiday currency. Easy to spend, not so easy to get a great rate before your holiday! Yet there are some ways you can maximise your holiday cash whilst taking advantage of the best rates - it's not about who you know, but what you know. Follow our top tips to ensure you play the currency game to win
It's a great idea to compare currency exchange rates online rather than sticking to the tried and tested choices such as your bank or local post office. Whilst they may offer great rates, you might find even better rates somewhere else. There are plenty of websites which will carry out comparisons for you, provided you plan in advance and leave yourself plenty of time to pick up currency before your holiday.
Watch out for hidden charges
When it comes to buying and selling holiday money, look out for hidden charges. Many foreign exchange bureaus will charge you extra if you pay by credit card when buying holiday money, which can bump up the cost quite considerably if you're travelling a few times a year. Look out for not only the lowest rates for buying, but low rates for selling too - commission free is ideal. Some supermarket foreign currency bureaus offer a buy-back deal, where you can sell them your foreign currency, commission free, when you get back from holiday, provided you do so within a set time limit. When you're travelling abroad, you should also watch out for debit card fees - whilst some debit card providers won't charge you for spending abroad, some will slap hefty fees on you should you pay with your debit card on your travels.
Don't leave your holiday money until the last minute; timing is everything. If you're forced to use a bureau de change at your local airport, you'll often find the rates are extortionate, which could end up costing you. You should never change money at the airport unless it's an absolute emergency - plan in advance and pick up your holiday money at least a few days before you jet off abroad.
Cash or card?
Many people swear by pre-paid cards when travelling, which are loaded with currency that you can withdraw as you need. It's best to take a combination of cash and cards - enough cash to get you through the first few days of your holiday, and a credit card (which doesn't attract fees for use abroad) or a pre-paid currency card too; this way you'll have the best of both worlds.