Cheap Holiday Money

8 July 2013

It seems a little bit silly to have to spend money on buying, er, money but that's what we have to do when we go on holiday abroad. The canny parent, and that's anyone reading this because all our PlayPennies parents are canny with their cash, knows there's ways to minimise this spending. I've found out as many possible ways to do just that and am here to share them all with you. There are some new, and rather exciting, options available these days, and also some tried and tested you may have forgotten about.

To find out more read on. And I hope you enjoy your summer holidays. For me there's only one week left of the drudgery of the school rum before we finish for a long extended break. I can't wait!

Know your exchange rates

Shop around before your holiday to get an idea of what the best exchange rates being offered are. They're not all the same. Plus you can keep an eye on what the current official exchange rates are using an app on your phone or laptop. I use, although other people may have their own preferences.


Cold hard cash is going to be a necessity at some point on your travels. Even if it is just to get a cab from the airport to your resort. Most seasoned travellers I know advise against picking this up at a Bureaux De Change that's attached to an airport or other travel centre. They have a captive audience, and their exchange rates reflect that.

I don't really need to tell you that though. This is more a reminder - I know you are intelligent enough to work it out for yourself, but in the frenzy of getting ready to go on holiday it is something that is easy to forget.

Here's another tip to keep in mind. Get money out to buy your money. Or rather, check on any fees before using a payment card to buy foreign money.  Some might charge you a small fee for this, whereas you may pay nothing at all if you spend cash to buy cash.

Travellers cheques

Yes, they still exist. And in many instances, the security offered by travellers cheques makes them a good option. Just not the cheapest, although you can follow a few tips to minimise the costs.

Again, it is worth shopping around to find not just a good rate, but also a good set of fees. For example, buying from a company that is affiliated with a bank or operates in another country may mean that you won't have to pay another fee or commission when you cash a travellers cheque using that bank or company.

Just don't forget to make a note of all the serial numbers, and keep that in a separate place, in case anything goes wrong.

Travel cards

Travel cards are a new option that I am hugely excited about, and depending on which one you opt for, they could be the closest to free foreign money that we can get at the moment.

Unfortunately, you can only buy them in a few currencies at the moment. These are British pounds sterling, US dollars and Euros. You load the card up in the currency of your choice, then when you are abroad, use the card as you would a debit or credit card. To pay for items, or get cash out of a machine. With most travel cards, no further charges, and you are not charged commission on each transaction. Make sure you check on what fees the card carries before you decide on one.

You are however for the most part stuck with the exchange rate as it is when you load the card. And, you will get stung for fees if you use the card in a country where its currency isn't used, and you have to convert the money.

I would recommend using the travel card finder to get the best card deal.

Debit and credit cards

These seem the next most convenient after a Travel card, but there are plenty of hidden pitfalls. The most common is the 'security check'. I've been stuck before, with no other means of money on me, because even though I called my credit card company and let them know I was travelling overseas they still put a stop on my card the first time I used it. There's nothing more fun than dealing with jetlag, and trying to call a company in the UK (where it is 3am) to sort out a security check on your credit card.

But also, credit and debit cards can also have all sorts of complicated fees. A charge when using a machine, a different charge for each item purchased, fees for converting these charges back into your own currency. This is why I am so excited about Travel cards!

So, do call your bank to let them know you are travelling. Make a list of all the charges you might incur when using your card. And finally, when using your debit or credit card check to see whether the establishment you are in will allow you to settle the bill in sterling instead of the local currency. This could save you in charges.


1 comment

  • Jones8
    Great article! Good to be informed about all the various ways you can travel or holiday abroad at an affordable price. Exchange rates are constantly changing so should always keep track of the exchange rates

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