This site uses cookies to improve your browsing experience. By continuing to use this site, you agree to our use of cookies.  Find out more here.

Be canny with your currency

Holidays - we all look forward to our time away. And while it’s great when we finally arrive at our chosen destination, let’s face it most of us are not so keen on the amount of planning and hard work that goes into enabling us to get there in the first place.

From researching where you want to go, to then finding the best deals on accommodation, car hire and flights, followed by packing all the paraphernalia, we’re sure at some points we all ask ourselves “Is this worth it?”. Well the simple answer of course is Yes!

Included in any pre-travel check list is currency, which in itself can be a bit of a lottery in terms of when’s best to buy and also where to buy from. Plus what about all those potential charges should you need to use a credit or debit card while you’re away which may then render all that time spent researching the best deals pointless.

The Flexicover Teamshas a few ideas and suggestions to ensure that most of the precious stash you have to actually enjoy yourself with is spent correctly: on cocktails, taxis and those souvenirs that seemed a good idea at the time!

Avoid exchanging at the airport

This may sound like a really obvious tip but, lest we forget, exchange rates are usually horrendous at the point of departure. Research conducted in 2015 and published in the Daily Telegraph found that £500 bought an average of €692 when pre-ordering online but only €626 at the airport. And often this included from the self-same companies operating airport kiosks. So a little bit of forward planning online (or even just a few hours for some of the bigger currency bureaus that offer airport pickup) means you’ll have an extra €66 to spend on airport food and trinkets!

Minimise ATM withdrawals

As if a not-always-competitive exchange rate wasn’t enough of a sting, taking money out of the ATM usually comes with an extra fee that will vary depending on your bank. Some charge a flat fee, which can start around £1, while others charge a percentage – usually in the region of 1 to 2 percent of the amount that you intend to withdraw – with a minimum charge, often hitting around the £2 mark. The good news is that if your bank is a nice one, if they’re imposing a minimum fee they will probably also have a maximum one – usually around £5.

Pay like a local

Paying by card as far as you can is a good way to avoid ATM fees. Many foreign outlets offer the choice of paying in the local currency or in your home currency. Paying in sterling has its benefits: it’s easier to track spending, cheaper if your bank charges a minimum conversion fee and handy if it’s a business expense. However, this most likely involves a Dynamic Currency Conversion – a percentage mark-up on the exchange rate and the merchant may get a cut of the excess thus steering you towards the more expensive option. Unless you have a reason to pay in sterling, opt for the local currency.

Try a pre-paid card

Similar to pay-as-you-go mobile phones, pre-paid cards mean that you can buy currency to load onto a card and top it up if/when you need to. There are some disadvantages to this – for example, many operators will charge a one-off or monthly fee for the card. But the main benefit is that they can offer very competitive exchange rates. So, in countries where the currency is unpredictable and likely to leave you worse off by the end of the trip, it’s often possible to ‘lock in’ the rate you get. For regular travellers and those going to places with strengthening currencies, this could be a very good option.

Keep your coins

If you’re a cash kind of person, you’re likely to spend much of your trip balancing between making the money last until you’re back home but not spending it so quickly that you can’t get to the airport. But even when you do get the balance right, there are always coins left over which most travel exchange companies don’t accept, making holidays that bit more expensive. In times past, we’d throw it in the airplane charity envelopes or keep it for next time – whenever that next time might be. But there are now online coin exchange companies to turn those foreign coins into spendable cash – much more useful!

So wherever you go this year be it the Eurozone, domain of the dollar or realm of the rupee, remember that we at Flexicover are committed to providing you with the highest level of protection to ensure that you are safe and secure 24 hours a day when away.