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Travelling abroad takes a lot of forward planning, with accommodation and flights taking president, it’s easy to overlook your spending money. By demoting currency exchange to a last-minute task a couple of days before your trip, you risk getting a poor exchange rate and a large commission fee. Follow these top tips if you want to be smart about your travel money:
Currency exchange services are rarely free, but if you shop around, you should find a deal with low commission, or better yet, none at all! Most places offering zero commission deals will have associated flat fees, where you are required to convert a set amount of money.
If you’re a regular visitor, or the country deals in a common tender, such as Euros/USD, exchanging a little more money is sensible to avoid forking out for commission. Make sure that you will be able to use the additional money you exchange though! If you’re not planning a second trip to Vietnam, it would be counter-productive to spend an extra £100 on Dong, that would only cost you a few quid in exchange fees, otherwise
Booked up for Florida 2019 already? Keep a close eye on the exchange rate over the coming months and strike when the iron is hot! You can use currency comparison tools to keep tabs on trends and set up email alerts for when your chosen currency devalues. This is a clever way to get the most from your currency exchange and can help you spread the cost of your holiday.
If you’re left with a little extra at the end of your trip, and you won’t be returning there any time soon, don’t forget to covert it back! If you swap your foreign money back when their exchange rate is good, you could end up with an extra 5-10% than what you originally traded in your pounds for. The trick is to keep an eye on the rates, and since they’re published online & you can set up email alerts, there's no excuse not to secure a great deal.
If you’re away for more than a week and don’t want to carry too much cash on you, combining your converted currency with a pre-payment card is a great idea. While most will still have those pesky fees, it will be a lot less costly than using your UK debit card/ credit card. The real benefit of pre-payment cards is that you can top them up as you go and any leftovers can easily be transferred back to your usual account (without that commission we try so hard to avoid!).
As with anything currency related, it's vital that you do your research in advance. Don’t leave it ‘til the last minute… unless you’ve bagged an amazing last min holiday deal!