Whether it's a relaxing two week holiday, or a city break, using your credit or debit card abroad all to often results in a nasty surprise come the end of the month. Yet by using the right card you can save £100s by beating bank charges and enjoying the best possible exchange rates.
Money Saving Answers has created these top tips to maximising your spending power abroad.
Five money saving holiday facts:
- Never change money at the airport – You've left it too late, they've got you over a barrel and they know it. You'll be lumbered with the worst rate, and that's no way to start a holiday. If you absolutely must change money at the airport, ferry terminal, or train station, always pre-order. You can usually do this up to four hours in advance and you'll enjoy a better rate. Instead try to leave yourself plenty of time to change money. That way you shop around for the best rate.
Give Travelex they often have good exchange rates and frequent ‘flash sales.'
- Get the right credit card and enjoy the cheapest rates – most credit card providers add roughly 3% to the exchange rate they get when changing money themselves. This is called loading. Some cards don't load though. By choosing one of these you'll get the absolute best rates available.
- Debit cards are the worst offenders – While most credit cards load, nearly all debit cards load and charge a £1.50 per transaction. The worst offenders are: Barclays, Lloyds TSB, Halifax, RBS, Co-op, Santander and NatWest. Avoid using these cards abroad.
- Always pay in the local currency – Many overseas ATMs, restaurants, and shops will ask you if you'd like to pay (or withdraw) in pounds, when using your credit/debit card. If you pay in pounds, what happens if that the retailer does the currency conversion for you. Rates are almost always worse than letting your own lender do the conversion. ALWAYS always pay in the local currency. This trick is used extensively in Spain and can be a nice little earner the banks/retailer.
- Don't buy cash on a credit card – All credit cards charge a fee for withdrawing cash, even if you repay in full. Buying foreign currency from a bureaux de change, even if it's online, will count as a cash withdrawal. Use a debit card instead.