If you are aiming to go on a summer holiday shopping spree this year to snap up homeware bargains on the Continent, this is what to do - and not to do:
DON’T buy currency from the most expensive provider: that could add hundreds to the total cost of your break. One of the upshots of the Eurozone economic crisis is that the pound is working in the favour of British tourists. A year ago £1,000 bought €1115, while today it will buy about €100 more.
DON’T buy the cash at the airport, Eurostar terminal, or port: it will almost always result in eye-watering rates and charges too as you’re a captured market.
Instead, there are four options for overseas currency:
1. DO buy before departure on the High Street: Marks & Spencer and the Post Office are amongst those who change money without charging commission, but remember to compare rates. Usually, you’ll be able to get a better deal by…
2. DO buy cash online: These money suppliers tend to offer rates of between one and 10 per cent cheaper than on the high street, but you’ll need to plan ahead as delivery takes time. Compare rates and charges at travelmoneymax.com. Remember to add on the cost of delivery, unless you go for a provider which has branches where you can pick up the cash for free.
3. DO take a fee-free bank card: anyone worried about carrying a wad of cash overseas (although you will need it for those market purchases and local restaurants) may want to opt to pay with a card. Either go for a fee-free piece of plastic - Metro Bank’s current account card and the Halifax Clarity card do not charge for overseas ATM transactions or purchases. Nationwide’s Select credit card also offers commission-free purchases abroad.
4. DO look into pre-payment cards: these are on offer from providers including Travelex, Caxton FX, and the Post Office. They work like credit cards, but users pay to load them with money ahead of time. Be careful of fees: some charge as much as £2.50 for withdrawing cash – but CaxtonFX imposes no ATM charges or purchase charges.