You’ve just paid for your holiday on your plastic, and you’re running around the shops, searching the UK winter sales for a bikini that fits with flip flops to match. Whilst sitting on the suitcase trying to zip it shut, you remember, “I’ve got to pick up some currency!”
With the Euro coming in, it made the whole concept of which currency much easier. Most of Europe enjoys the Euro, although perhaps not one of the strongest economic choice at the moment.
Whilst the credit card is available abroad, charges can be racked up on top of what you’re spending. Travel cheques are a safe option to stash away in various places such as in your socks, in case someone breaks in to your suitcase, or robs your hand luggage. The age old option is cash from either the post office or your bank. Even supermarket banks have ventured into exchanging currency too. The good thing about going to your bank is that they can at least reassure you have the right currency for where you are going!
It’s always an option to change your money at an airport, train or ferry terminal, but these venues tend to offer the least competitive rate. When researching your options, you’ll find some companies charge commission for carrying out the foreign exchange. This will generally range from £1.25 to £3.00. There are two forms – ‘minimum charges’ which can make it very expensive to change small amounts, and ‘flat fee’ which are good for larger amounts of money. On top of this there tends to be handling fees which is the money the currency seller charges to carry out the exchange. However be wary of ‘commission free’ offers, as these do not always provide better value for money. It is often the case that the currency seller will make up for the loss of commission with a higher exchange rate. Another option to consider is the buy-back rate. If you’re likely to bring back a fair amount of cash home with you, then see if the outlet will buy your currency back for free.
Travellers cheques are generally thought of as a safe and secure alternative. Once bought in the UK, you must sign each one. This is so that when you come to change a travellers cheque for local currency you can present the cheque, enter the payee and sign in front of the cashier. The idea being tha the signature you make is proof you are the person who bought the cheque. The main benefit is that if the cheques are stolen, you can report the cheque numbers and receive replacements immediately.
Whichever way you go, make sure you don’t forget your currency!