Ever since the Brexit results, the pound has suffered against the euro. This can make for a difficult and, oftentimes, confusing journey to exchange your sterling in anticipation of a holiday outside of the UK. The drop in the pound means many families had to refine their travel budgets to accommodate the change in what their pound will get them.
Some bureaux de change offices are offering barely above €1 for £1, especially if you wait till the last minute and changed your money at the airport, for example. On top of the poor exchange rate, you can count on high fees and charges being billed by some of Britain’s biggest banks, such as Lloyds. Lloyds charges 2.99% for every debit car transaction while abroad. It also adds a £1 standard fee on top of the percentage fee. It can cost you £4.50 each time you take money out of a cash machine in Spain. If you must make a cash withdrawal in another country, it is best to take out a large amount, once, than a lot of little withdrawals. By doing that, you can avoid the myriad of flat fees every time you use a machine.
Many people are unaware that you can order money online, ahead of time, and save a lot. Even the pricy airport exchange bureaux can be the best deal, if you order ahead and pick up your money at the airport bureau. There is a website that can help you find the best deal to exchange your currency. TravelMoneyMax.com will search, using your postcode, for the best deal near your house.
Ordering at least 24 hours ahead of time can mean the difference between €1.05 per £1 and €1.17. Some bureaux even offer next-day delivery if you are unable to get to the office in person. There is a small fee for this service but, compared to bank fees, it is a still a good deal. A good thing to keep in mind, whether you are walking up to counter to exchange or you have ordered in advance, is to never use a credit card to exchange. The transaction will be treated as if you were withdrawing money from another country and you will be hit with a lot of fees. Always use cash or a debit card.
No matter how diligent you are when making your vacation budget, something is always bound to come up. Plans change or you face unexpected expenditures. When this happens, it’s wise to be aware of the best way to withdraw money in another country. Most big banks with take off the top approximately 10% of the money you are withdrawing. One exception is Nationwide building society. If you have the society’s FlexPlus account, you can take money from cash machines with no fee at all and the exchange rate is near-pure market rates. There is a monthly fee for this account but it includes family travel insurance and coverage for a car breakdown. Other banks that are fairly cheap are Norwich & Peterborough building society and Metro Bank. It’s understandable that you may not want to switch banks just for a holiday or two. Research your options and you’ll be better off for it.
The last point, and perhaps one of the most important ones to remember, is that many cash machines abroad will ask if you want your transaction to be in pounds instead of in euros. Even in shops, the shopkeepers will ask you this. Always say no. If you say yes the bank or shop will apply its own exchange rate and that rate is guaranteed to be horrible.
Wherever you’re headed for your well-earned vacation, be informed and research before you exchange your money or use a credit or banking card in another country. You worked hard for your money, don’t let a currency exchange take a lot from it.