Whether you’re travelling for business or leisure, exchanging your travel money in the best possible fashion should always sit high on the agenda.
After all, failure to choose the best solution could result in poor value or potentially put you at risk of fraudulent or malicious activities.
Educating yourself about the various options is the only way to make a calculated decision. Let’s take a look at the possibilities.
Exchanging pounds sterling into dollars, euros, or any other currency can be achieved by visiting a number of places, including:
- Post office;
- Foreign exchange bureaus;
- Travel agents;
- And more.
Firstly, you need to be sure that the chosen operator stocks the currency you want (if opting for a rare option, it’s possible that you’ll need to phone in advance). Secondly, it’s important to check the exchange rates being offered by each vendor – especially when exchanging large volumes. For this reason, you’ll want to avoid the airport.
Cash isn’t as safe as some of the other options, but it is perhaps easier to monitor spending.
Paying by card while abroad is as convenient as doing it back in the UK as most countries now use ATMs as well as chip and pin merchant machines. Only the least developed locations won’t have these facilities.
Debit cards and credit cards may be used, and they do offer a number of benefits including:
- Monitor spending by tracking transactions on your banking App
- Won’t need to worry about exchange rates with cash
- Purchases are protected as they are in the UK
However, it is worth noting that a small charge may be added to transactions at ATMs, meaning you won’t get as much value for money. Moreover, you’ll need to take precautions by ensuring that merchants complete transactions in front of your eyes. It’s worth telling the bank about your travel plans too. This guide from Lending Expert offers further advice when using a credit card abroad.
Meanwhile, you won’t always know the exchange rate being offered by the card vendor until you return home.
Perhaps the safest option, traveller’s cheques can be purchased in the UK with each cheque carrying a specific value in the currency of the destination country. Some will see the idea of managing cheques and change as unnecessary hassle and opt for alternatives.
If you spend less than the cheque value, the merchant will provide change in cash, which can be seen as a positive or a negative depending on your viewpoint. The best thing about them, though, is that they can be reported as lost or stolen, which gives you great protection.
Traveller’s cheques carry your signature, and you’ll sign for purchases, which verifies the transactions. This is another step that can protect you when pickpockets get hold of the paper copies.
Prepaid cards are somewhat like prepaid gift cards in that they are preloaded with money. The funds can be spent or withdrawn from ATMs while it’s possible to top them up in most destination countries as well as the UK.
One of the good things about the prepaid cards is that they can be topped up in several ways, including:
- Credit card transactions
- Debit card transactions
- Bank transfer
- Cash in a bureau
This gives you many of the benefits offered by standard bank cards without the potential threat of cloning etc. Still, if lost or stolen, the money is essentially lost.
The Final Word
Ultimately, there is no one right or wrong solution for exchanging money ahead of your next trip but the info above should highlight which is most convenient for you. Get this right, and the adventure is sure to be more enjoyable.