Plan ahead to make savings on your travel money this half term
Those planning a half term holiday next week or a last minute romantic getaway for Valentine's could save up to £100 by planning their travel money before jetting off.
According to analysis from MoneySupermarket.com, exchanging last minute at the airport bureau de change could cost as much as 10 per cent more than someone using a debit card designed for overseas usage. For example, travellers changing GBP to US dollars via ICE bureau de change at the airport would pay £714.44 for $1,000, while someone spending $1,000 on the Norwich & Peterborough Building Society Gold Classic debit card would only pay £640.25.
And with the growing strength of the Pound versus the Euro, Brits can still benefit from shopping around for their Euros, leaving extra cash in the wallet for family activities. For example, travellers could save £93.73 when using a Sainsburys Finance Gold Credit Card to take out €1,000 at an ATM, at a cost of £837.46. While those taking out €1,000 last minute via ICE at the airport would end up paying £931.19 for €1,000.
MoneySupermarket also found that for jet setters, spending a few minutes to pre-order money online for same day collection in London could save £70. Purchasing $1,000 online with central London collection with ICE would cost £645.16, compared to a direct purchase at the airport ICE bureau de change, costing £714.44.
Bob Atkinson, travel expert at MoneySupermarket.com, said: "Travellers who change their travel money at the airport could be paying well over the odds for doing so and missing out on significant savings by not planning ahead and shopping around. For those strapped for time, both Thomas Cook and Travelex offer a service where you can reserve your currency online for same day airport collection and benefit from the internet rate and no airport commissions.
"But, you can save even more by thinking ahead and buying in the right place and at the right price in order to save as much money as possible. Even for those already planning their summer holidays, now is a good time to arrange travel money while exchange rates for the Euro are stronger than recent months. Currently, Brits can benefit from exchange rates nearly 9 per cent stronger than in July 2011, giving you a boost to your holiday spends. And with many resorts offering great value deals on eating out and entertainment your holiday money really does go further.
"And we should not be complacent about using our usual credit and debit cards overseas. By applying and using a card designed for spending overseas, you can benefit from some of the best deals around, coupled with the safety of using a pin protected card."
Various products are on offer for those jetting off abroad. A pre-paid card such as FairFX would cost £654.66 for $1,000, based on five purchases in the US, and does not charge a fee for application of spending. Those needing to withdraw cash abroad could use a market leading pre-paid card such as the CaxtonFX Prepaid Card costing £657.89 for $1,000, which has no charges for ATM use abroad, while the Norwich & Peterborough Building Society's Gold Classic debit card currently offers free card usage abroad and would cost just £640.25 for $1,000.
Bob Atkinson continued: "Those planning to use a debit or credit card should always check the small print to ensure they understand any charges before setting off abroad - or they could be greeted by a hefty bill on their return. Always give at least a week to ten days when applying for a market leading card, leaving plenty of time for it to arrive. And of course remember that if you use a credit card to withdraw cash overseas even the market leading ones designed for overseas usage will charge interest immediately, with the exception of Sainsbury's Gold Card .
"Check for local charges for using ATMs or making purchases abroad as some banks and retailers may charge. Others may also offer to convert your transaction into sterling at point of sale, known as dynamic currency conversion. This generally works against the customer so it is usually worth rejecting as you will be offered a more favourable rate of exchange by your provider.
"A pre-paid card allows consumers the most spending power and protection against loss or theft when abroad, and pre-paid best buys such as FairFX or CaxtonFX have no purchase or withdrawal fees, can be topped up by phone or online for free and replaced quickly if needed."