How to make your funds go further on a trip abroad

Anyone setting off on holiday this summer will want to make their money go the furthest – and one easy way to do that is being savvy about how you spend money while abroad.

The difference between using the wrong card and one with low fees, or getting your cash at the airport compared to a more competitive rate could add hundreds of pounds in costs to your trip away.

Here we look at the different options to make your holiday money go further.

CASHING IN

If you’re a cash fan when you’re on holiday then you’ll probably want to change money before you go. One of the worst things you could do is wait until you get to the airport (either on home soil or at your destination) and just switch up cash there. You’ll get a worse rate than if you get it elsewhere and you might get charged card fees.

One good option is to check out Money Saving Expert’s TravelMoneyMax, which will find the best exchange rates depending on the currency you want, how much you are changing and where you live.

If you’ve left it really last minute you can also order ahead for money at the airport and get a better rate than you would get on the day. Something to look out for is a buy-back guarantee, which means the exchange will buy back your unused travel money if you have some left over at the end of your trip.

Just make sure you don’t use a credit card to buy your travel money, as this is often viewed as a cash withdrawal on the card and you’ll face higher charges. Stick to a debit card or cash.

USE A DEBIT CARD

If you’ve got a little bit of time before you head off it could be worth getting a debit or credit card that’s specifically targeted at travelling abroad. While you can use any card abroad, some will charge very high fees or give you a poor exchange rate.

Your best options are Starling Bank’s debit card or the debit card from the new Chase account. Both have no fees for spending and no charges for taking cash out of an ATM abroad.

What’s more, you’ll get Mastercard’s exchange rate that day, which is usually pretty good. With Chase you’ll also get 1% cashback on any spending you do on it. You don’t need to switch your main account to them, you can just use them as a secondary account.

PUT IT ON CREDIT

Some people prefer to spend on a credit card abroad, as it gives a little extra protection for purchases or if you lose your card. The Halifax Clarity Mastercard has long been a good option for spending abroad.

Like the debit cards above, you don’t get charged fees on spending or on ATM withdrawals. While you won’t be charged a fee on cash withdrawals you will be charged interest from the day you make the withdrawal, so it’s best to pay it off straight away or use one of the cards above for cash withdrawals.

If you opt for a credit card just make sure you pay it off when the bill comes in, before you get charged interest.

PRE-PAY BEFORE YOU GO AWAY

Another option is a pre-paid card. This is a good idea if you’re on a budget as you load it up with cash before you go and (hopefully) only spend that while you’re away. You can load them up with pounds and either lock-in a rate before you go away and effectively convert the money to your holiday currency or you can keep it in pounds and get the exchange rate on the day you spend it.

Options to look at include Revolut, Wise and EasyFX. Check out the fees and restrictions of each to work out which is best for you.

AVOID THE PAYING IN POUNDS SCAM

When paying by card or taking cash out of the machine often the machine will ask if you want to pay in pounds or the currency of your destination. The wording can be pretty bamboozling and often make it seem like you’re getting a better deal if you pay in pounds – but don’t fall into that trap.

You’ll almost always be better off if you pay in the local currency, particularly if you’ve picked one of the ideal-for-travel cards above.

CHECK FOR ATM FEES

Some ATMs will charge a fee just for withdrawing your money – this is a charge from the ATM, which is different to ATM fees charged by your card provider. Try to avoid paying these if you can, either by finding a free-to-use ATM or by getting your cash in advance.

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