Plan ahead to take full advantage of strong currency rates
Brits planning to head into Europe or further afield this summer can cash in by taking advantage of a strengthening pound against a number of foreign currencies giving them more money to spend abroad, according to analysis from MoneySupermarket.com.
The comparison site looked at exchange rates for buying Euros to load a pre-paid foreign currency card or for calculating purchases on a credit card and found holidaymakers are currently saving up to an extra £80 per €1,000 compared to the same time last year. For example, someone with a Travelex pre-paid card this time last year would have received an exchange rate of 1.1115 compared to 1.218 today, meaning an extra £78.67 for their holiday cash, while those using a credit card for €1,000 of purchases abroad would be £77.99 better off.
However, Brits are failing to take advantage of buying their foreign currency early, with only one in ten people polled in a recent MoneySupermarket site survey buying their currency at least a month before they travel. Four in ten buy their currency in the week of travel. However, almost a third (29 per cent) try to time it to get the best possible exchange rate while one in six (16 per cent) sort their money when abroad, of this, nine per cent withdraw their cash from an ATM machine when they arrive and seven per cent buy their money when on their holiday.
Bob Atkinson, travel expert at MoneySupermarket.com said: "Leaving it to the last minute to sort your travel currency is madness and will generally cost you more. Planning ahead and buying currency online or applying for one of the market leading pre-paid, debit or credit cards which are designed for use abroad can help you really make the most of your money. With sterling currently performing strongly against many foreign currencies, including the Euro, if you have spare cash, now is a great time to take advantage of these rates and give yourself more bang for your buck when travelling abroad. There are no guarantees that the rate won't improve further or even come crashing down as rates have done in the past, so it is a gamble. However, for those who don't want to take the risk, buying some Euro's now and the rest closer to your trip could be beneficial.
"If you are planning to use cards abroad, then a pre-paid card offers a favourable exchange rate and many come with no foreign usage fees, both for purchases and for cash at an ATM. However, it is also worth double checking your existing debit or credit card to understand what charges are made for using them abroad. The majority of credit cards charge interest for withdrawing cash at an ATM, and have loading fees for over the counter purchases, but you should always check before heading abroad. If you are planning to take out a card specifically to use abroad, plan ahead and don't leave it until the last minute as you have to allow at least ten working days to receive the card from the date of application.
"Remember if you are travelling abroad this summer, be savvy; plan ahead; shop around; buy currency online, and work out how much €1,000 will cost you before you buy. That way you can use those savings to treat yourself while away or simply make your money go further."