Once upon a time, we actually enjoyed ordering holiday money. We came away with a fresh wallet of exotic-looking notes, feeling a bit like a flush millionaire with Monopoly cash to splash… This, we told ourselves, was living.
Alas, the weak pound has long seen off this (slightly pathetic) pleasure. A champagne problem, we know, but standing in queue to hear that your cash ain’t worth squat – “the exchange rate is WHAT?” – is far from a thrill.
This problem is worst with Euros and, of course, it plays out nicely for travellers headed to the UK (rather than away).
Head online to buy money
But, however the cookie crumbles, there is one simple trick you can work to make your holiday money work that little bit harder.
Read more: How I embraced solo travel as a man
Peter Rudin-Burges, financial director at currency comparison website CompareHolidayMoney, says ordering cash online is the way forward.
“Frequently, rates offered in branches are not as good as they are online. The classic example of this is the Post Office,” he tells This Is Money. “Plan to buy your currency ten days before you depart. That allows enough time to place an order online and get delivery to your home. Suppliers tend to use Royal Mail special delivery as this is insured and requires a signature.”
How to find the best online rate? Various comparison websites will do your homework for you.
MoneySavingExpert, a website set up by journalist Martin Lewis, has an app that compares currencies from around 30 online bureaus. Then there’s CompareHolidayMoney, which also rounds up the best deals from Britain’s currency providers at any one time.
As well as banks, bureaus de change and the Post Office, it’s worth bearing in mind that you can buy currency from custom online services and supermarkets. Some of the latter (e.g. Sainsbury’s) come with special rates for loyalty card holders.
Don’t use a credit card
If you do buy currency online, remember not to use a credit card.
“Buying currency is counted as a cash withdrawal,” says Lewis, of MoneySavingExpert. “You could face a myriad fees, including cash withdrawal fees, interest, or even a fee for using a credit card charged by the money changer.
“Therefore, if you’re buying currency, ALWAYS use a debit card, which isn’t allowed to charge this fee.”
While luxury adventures will always be an investment, it’s worth making the most of any little windows of opportunity to save money. And a better currency exchange rate is an obvious way of doing this. Save cash here, and you may grab leeway towards a nicer hotel room or a poolside cocktail or two. Count us in…