Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Travel Money - Get the Best Deal in London and when you Travel

Take some cash with you when you travel abroad for places that don’t accept plastic like small shops, taxi’s etc. Cash machines do not give you the best rate for changing money, you will get a better rate if you exchange cash at a foreign exchange.

To change money there are a variety of options. I find that Marks & Spencer’s, Travelex and the Post Office are all a rip off. The worst foreign currency exchanges are the ones in the airport which have huge ‘margins’ (the difference between what they buy a currency from you and what they sell it to you). 

Never pay commission, but just because they are advertising 0% commission doesn’t make their rate any good. Check online, I check Yahoo Finance. Then you want to get the closest rate to this that you can. 

If you live in London, Edgeware Road has a good selection and rates. The best place I have found is Thomas Global exchange which has 4 branches in london.

In general go to the little hole in the wall places with one guy cooped up in his little glass prison cell and he will have better rates than the high street banks, stores and even the chain currency places. Competition is good!

Better yet, exchange money directly with your friends. Just look online and get the rate at that time for the currency you have from Yahoo Finance and calculate it.
I have done this a few times, selling US Dollars to friends and another time buying Euro’s from my European friends. Use Facebook if you have to, but don’t pay Travelex’s ridiculous rates please!

If you are using a credit or debit card and somewhere abroad offers to let you pay in pounds, say No! This is called dynamic currency exchange and means the shop does the currency conversion, usually at an abysmal rate. 

The best method is to spend on your credit card where possible, if you have a decent credit card that doesn’t charge for this. Then withdraw the maximum cash with your debit card e.g. £300 worth of local currency in one go and only spend it when they won’t take a credit card. Then go home and change any leftover cash with your friends going on holiday, or save it for your next trip. 

Traveller’s cheques are a waste of time, if they are accepted where you are going then there will be an ATM nearby, so why not use your debit card, it charges, but is a lot less hassle!

You will get charged by your bank to use your debit card abroad, so take out a big amount as it is normally a 3% charge up to a maximum flat fee e.g. £5. Check your bank’s rates before you leave. 

If you are from London, Metro Bank charges no foreign exchange loading or cash withdrawal fees on its current account card.

Enjoy your holiday more when you pay less :)

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