Getting The Best Deal On Your Travel Money

05.10.15
3 minute read
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There are many great things to spend money on while you are on holiday, from the local food and drink to day trips, ice creams and souvenirs.

Cash machine charges and bad exchange rates are not two of them. Our guide gives you the rundown on how to save money on your travel money, so that you can really make the most of your holiday spending.

One quick and easy way to minimise the cost of sending money abroad (and vice versa) is to open an account with Transferwise. You can save on the fees your UK high street bank will charge for a money transfer.

Credit Card Or Debit Card?

Between ATM fees and interest charged by your bank, taking out money while you are abroad can be expensive. If you have a good credit rating, then you should definitely look into getting a specialist credit card for your travels. You are covered for items costing between £100 to £30,000 if anything goes wrong, and if you shop around you can get really cheap interest charges on ATM withdrawals.

However, only go down this route if you are fully intending on paying your credit card bill off in full at the end of your holidays, or things could become expensive, fast. Debit cards are useful - you can’t spend what you don’t have - and if you have a Visa Debit or similar, it is accepted at most of the places you can use a credit card. However generally debit cards are a very expensive way to access your holiday funds. Most of them charge an ATM fee, an interest fee and an additional fixed charge every time you use them.

There are exceptions, but as a general rule the debit card that comes with your UK high street current account is the one you should avoid using abroad. MoneySavingExpert.com has a great guide to the best credit cards to take on holiday and check out our tips on choosing an overseas spending card for more information.

Pre-Paid Cards

Pre-paid cards are an increasingly popular way of taking money on holiday with you. Because you load them in advance, you can lock in a decent rate if you are lucky (or at least not be stung by a hike in the exchange rate while you are abroad). They are also really helpful if you want to stick to a budget - and they are easy to replace if you lose them.

However, some places that do accept credit and debit cards don’t accept pre-paid cards. Plus, they don’t have the protection of credit cards if there is an issue with something you purchase with them.

Pounds or Euros?

When you are shopping abroad, you may be asked whether you want to pay in sterling, or in the local currency. Always choose the local currency - the exchange rates on this sort of transaction are loaded in the retailer’s favour.

Getting Cash in Advance?

Banks, the Post Office, travel agents, the airport - there are plenty of ways to change your sterling into the local currency. As a rule of thumb you will get a much better deal if you change your money in the UK rather than in the airport or in your holiday destination. Shop around for the best exchange rate, but be aware that you should have a backup plan such as a credit card in case the worst happens.

If you value safety above all, then consider taking some of your money in the form of travellers cheques.

Finally, one of the quickest ways to turn a well-budgeted holiday into a financial nightmare is to skimp on holiday insurance. You can get a good deal by shopping around, and you could save thousands if you need medical care. Check out our guide to the different types of holiday insurance and see which one might be the best for you.

TransferWise is the smart, new way to send money abroad.

Find out more