Travel Money

£21 million a year is wasted through poor airport exchange rates and high commission charges

You SHOULD NOT go away unprepared, find out about your credit card and debit card fees, charges and exchange rates BEFORE you go so that you have the right option for YOU

A combination of the RIGHT credit card, pre paid card and a small amount of cash is often best

The RIGHT credit card can save you A LOT of money


Credit card

Most standard credit cards will charge you 3% on top of the exchange rate EVERY TIME YOU USE IT so you need a credit card designed for use abroad with 0% commission and 0% interest on purchases.  Using your existing card can end up costing you a small fortune QUICKLY!

  1. Lloyds- No foreign transaction fees

  2. Santander- No foreign exchange fees

  3. Post Office Platinum- No fees on overseas purchases

  4. Nationwide Select- No commission on purchases abroad

Pre-paid card

If you don’t like carrying cash around, pre paid cards are an excellent option as you apply for a card before you travel, load some money on to it and you are all set. Go for a card in the currency you need – the main ones are Euro and US Dollar.  If you get a Sterling card then you WILL have to pay a fee each time you use the card.

Prepaid Cards do not require you to have a credit check as you pre-load them with money to spend abroad. The major advantage is if you lose your card, you can get it replaced with all funds intact, for a fee of about £10.

Prepaid cards are a GREAT way to budget

  1. FairFX- Good exchange rates, can use in over 200 countries

  2. ICE Travellers cashcard- no atm fees, cashback on £50/$50/€50 or more purchases

  3. Caxton- good exchange rate, any currency on one card

  4. Virgin Money- Free to reload by debit card, no fees for transactions in same currency


The golden rule with getting your foreign currency is you should never, ever leave it til the last minute. If you get your cash at the airport then you can expect poor exchange rates and high commission. If you do want to take cash, then order in advance from a specialist.

As a general rule, the High Street banks offer some of the least competitive rates so steer clear!

  1. FairFX- 0% commission, excellent exchange rates

  2. Ice- 0% currency commission & excellent rates, commission free buyback

  3. Post Office- 0% commission, FREE next day delivery on online orders

  4. American Express- 0% commission, excellent exchange rates

  5. ASDA- 0% commission, frequent 'sales' online with discounted exchange rates

  6. ICICI Bank- 0% commission, order online or collect in branch

Need to know

  • The same rules apply with travel money as ordinary borrowing, so ONLY use a credit card if you can afford to pay off your balance within the offer period.
  • Withdrawing cash from an ATM WILL cost you money!
  • You can use a pre paid card for everything from withdrawing cash to paying for restaurant bills, but DO NOT use your card for anything where you are paying a deposit like renting a car or checking in at a hotel, as they will take the money off your card and you will need to top it up straight away. If you use a credit card then you will not be out of pocket as they should refund the deposit before your next bill
  • Do not assume that using your debit card is a cheap way to shop abroad, is usually isn’t and many cards will charge you £1.50 EVERY time you use it
  • Whilst on holiday a lot of shops will offer to let you pay in pounds instead of the local currency, but you should NEVER do this as the exchange rate they’ll give you is usually much worse than the rate you’ll be charged by your credit card

The inside track

  • Although not so popular anymore, Traveller’s cheques are also still accepted as payment in most places but remember you will be charged each time you exchange them for cash, so go for larger amounts so you have to exchange them less often
  • Use up spare coins on the plane home but never notes. Most airline exhange rates are MASSIVELY in their favour and you will end up losing out 

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