MONEY MONDAY: Travel Money Tips – get more for less!

Hi pals, it’s MONEY MONDAY. The day where I chat finance, not face. The real VALUE part of Face Value.

If you’ve read my earlier blog post, you’ll see that I went on a little jolly to Malaysia and Singapore.

So to follow on a theme – as your resident accountant beauty fiend friend, please find some handy help below..

Let’s start from the beginning.

There are several ways to get your FOREX fix, the most common being:

  1.       International ATMS
  2.       Bureaus de Exchange (in my best French accent)
  3.       Pay for stuff directly on your cards when you’re out there
  4.       Prepaid cards 


Overseas action

Want to withdraw cash overseas? Or just going to buy something (or lots of things) on card in a shop?

Unfortunately, most card providers will charge you a fee for overseas transactions. Normally its a between 1-4% of the total and sometimes, a fixed fee of £1-3 dependent on your card provider.

Some card providers do special 0% overseas cards, more often than not exclusive only to their existing customers. I’ve seen MetroBank and Santander offer a debit card with zero fees on overseas spending.

UK action

There are some international ATMS dotted around in the UK where you can put in your debut card and withdraw FOREX – mostly Euros. 

  • PROS: Good for those who need a bit of cash quickly and easily, before you leave for holiday.
  • CONS: These are subject next to the same charges that your card provider would charge you if you were using an ATM overseas. Boo.

Okay – how about popping along to le Bureau De Change? M&S, Post Office – do your planning in advance and see who’s offering the best rates. 

Ahhh the Post Office, that great British institution – it’s fairly decent but you’ll get better rates on the Post Office Online than going to the PO branch to queue. The same goes for anywhere, online rates are always more competitive. 

HOWEVER. Online rates can also come with restrictions. Last time I checked, Post Office online had a minimum of £400 spend and only delivered to billing address or Post Office branch. Not so bueno.

FaceValue Tip: WATCH OUT. Some branches will also like to charge a commission or a debit-card fee when you buy currency. Naughty.

Therefore — if you’re buying in branch, the best way is often to PAY IN CASH.  And this is where the planning comes into play – most current accounts cap withdrawals at about £200 right?  So if you’re wanting any amounts over £250 you probably have to withdraw the max amount two days in a row, or head to your local bank branch. PLAN IT, PAY LESS.

Where does Zoe Dubs go? 

This one’s probably for the London team only, soz. I did my research, and the best deal for me was the Fast Track service at this place called Best Foreign Exchange

This place does the best rates I’ve seen compared to high street travel money exchanges. You order an amount online and pick up&pay at the branch later that day. Charges for card payments, but no charges for cash payments.
I found the perfect pic mixing money with cute animals. WIN.

Face Value Do’s

  • Plan your FOREX at least a week in advance, in case you need a couple of days to wait for stuff – delivery, time for the bank, a pizza, whatever.
  • Watch out for ways that companies use to charge you more – some companies will charge a commission or a handling fee. Always check the fine print.
  • Better rates and deals are generally found ONLINE. However, check the delivery charges as a £5 delivery charge may be less than a .001 difference in the online rate and the rate at the local branch.

Face Value Don’ts

  • Don’t pay using a credit card – the rule with credit cards is not to use them to withdraw money right? Well paying for currency in a branch feels like a shopping purchase but it gets treated the same as getting cash out of an ATM and you’ll be charged a cash advance fee. Most likely a big one.
  • Don’t buy at the airport! The rates are notoriously worse! Same goes for the Eurostar station or any major international transport hub. They are the equivalent of buying bottled water at the cinema aka massive rip off.

But – all information aside – at the end of the day, it’s all about what you need, when you need it and how quickly you want it. 

If you need to pay more to get something more quickly, then so be it.

But now at least you know your options!


ps Hey FaceValue Friends – what other topics are useful to you? Is there anything you’d like to know more about? Just let me know in the comments below!

Published by ZBW

Zoe is a Forbes '30 under 30' finance pro, style writer, presenter and panellist, working for a fashion startup and trying to live that best life in the most IRL way possible.

4 thoughts on “MONEY MONDAY: Travel Money Tips – get more for less!

  1. Very good post! I always use my card in shops and am ashamed to say that I NEVER know what to opt for when they ask me if I want to pay in local or Sterling. I don't go away very often *cries*, but what is your advice on that for next time I do?

    1. ALWAYS local!If you choose Sterling, the retailer will then convert it at their own rate. Whatever it is, is is most likely always higher than what the bank offers (ie when you choose Local, the bank will convert it at their rate)The retailer gets any FX gain from their own conversions, so some places lay the trap for tourists by asking them "local or sterling"…. but you won't be fooled next time mwaha!Zoe x

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