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Travel Money Tips

When it comes to your holiday money, there are plenty of options. For added security and flexibility take a mix of currency, cards and cheques – that way if you lose one, you have other options.

Credit and debit cards

  • Only take the cards you intend to use with you; leave others at home.
  • Check that your type of credit card is valid in your destination.
  • Tell your card provider that you’re going away so they don’t block your card. If they notice foreign activity, they’ll normally assume it’s fraudulent and block your card.
  • Before you go, make a note of your credit card numbers and expiry dates. Leave this at home or with someone you trust.
  • Take 24-hour emergency card cancellation phone numbers with you.
  • Remember that using your credit card for big purchases – for instance booking flights, hotel or car hire – gives you extra financial protection if goods are faulty or not delivered.

Fees

  • Check your card provider’s fees. Some charge a loading fee of around 3% foreign exchange commission (giving you a low rate) besides a 3% fee on ATM withdrawals, and immediate interest on cash withdrawals, whereas some cards charge spending fees for every purchase.
  • If you travel frequently, consider choosing a card with no charges or a very competitive rate.
  • Remember it’s often cheaper to withdraw a chunk of cash at the beginning of your holiday rather than small amounts as you go. This way you avoid paying withdrawal fees each time you draw out cash or make a purchase. Any money you withdraw in the local currency can always exchange back when you return home.

Currency

  • Exchange rates and commission vary on the high street and online, so shop around to find the best deals.
  • Exchange some cash at least a week before you go – this can be cheaper than drawing out money once you’ve arrived and it means you’re prepared for taxi or bus fares on arrival. Once in your destination, if you’re given the option to be charged in pounds or the local currency, choose the local currency – you will get a better exchange rate.

Money safety

  • Don’t carry more money that you need when you’re out and about.
  • If you need to carry a big amount of cash, split it with a family member or travelling companion.
  • It’s also a good idea to divide your cash; keep some in your wallet, some in a money belt and some in an inside pocket. If you’re leaving cash in a hotel room, lock it in your room safe – along with credit cards, traveller’s cheques and passports. (Don’t forget to check the safe in the hotel room is secure)

Prepaid card tips

  • A prepaid card is a pay-as-you-go card that you top up before leaving the UK.
  • Buy prepaid cards from banks, the high street or online; you can add euros, US dollars and sterling.
  • Some prepaid cards mean you can avoid ATM withdrawal charges.
  • Use them in shops and ATMs where you see the Visa or MasterCard logo.
  • A prepaid card helps you stick to a holiday budget.
  • Check the card’s fees, terms and conditions.
  • If you lose your card the money is protected but you may have to pay for a replacement card.

Traveller’s cheques

Traveller’s cheques are pre-printed cheques for particular amounts in pounds or foreign currency. You can use them to pay in hotels, shops etc. or to exchange for foreign currency at banks and bureaux de change. Traveller’s cheques don’t expire, so if you don’t use them all on one trip, you can hang on to them for your next holiday.

Traveller’s cheques are secure because you sign each one on receipt. When you use a cheque you sign it a second time, in front of the person accepting the cheque. Each cheque is also numbered; make a note of these serial numbers to keep separately. Lost travellers cheques can be replaced as long as you have a note of the serial numbers.

Remember that in some countries, travellers cheques aren’t widely accepted; you may have to cash them in. You may also find that some banks won’t exchange them, as more and more travellers use credit and debit cards instead.

Traveller’s cheques do incur commission fees if you’re changing them into currency and some banks will charge an additional fixed minimum fee per cheque. Exchange rates vary so compare before you buy. You can also buy travellers cheques in currencies including euros and US dollars, which may save you paying commission.

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