Do you have a case of holi-wobbles? The pound is still in the doldrums and so are many vacationers.
Still, two minutes now can be a time to relax when you’re abroad, knowing you’re getting the most money (or euros) for your bong.
Vacation Abroad Collywobbles are real. I recently ran a quick Twitter poll, over 5,000 people responded, 12% of those who intended to go abroad have abandoned these plans, and 35% say they will go, but will be. more prudent in their spending.
As Ally tweeted: “@martinslewis I’m not back from Australia for long – things were about 1/3 more expensive than a few years ago. Painful.”.
And with Easter now behind us, my mailbag creaks with sun seekers asking if they should buy their foreign currency now before their summer getaways.
So let me explain everything you need to know …
Should I buy my euros or my dollars now for the summer?
A good question and one to which I do not know the answer. Anyone who tells you they know what will happen to exchange rates is a liar. It’s a market that fluctuates by the minute, rates move both based on economic factors affecting both the pound and the currency you are buying, and the whims of traders trying to guess the future interactions of the two.
Of course, someone will say “buy now”, someone else will say “wait” and a third person “the prices will stay the same”. One of them will be right and say, “I told you,” but that doesn’t mean they knew.
Personally I don’t mind, I make sure I get the best rates when I go. Still, if you’re nervous, you can hedge your bets. Buy about half of what you need now, to lock it in, then get the best rates when you travel. For the rest of this article, I’ll show you the best way to do it.
Take 2 minutes to get near perfect fares around the world, every time you are away
The easy option is to get and spend on one of the overseas specialty credit cards that you religiously pay IN TOTAL every month (or you pay up to 20% APR interest – in this case, do not do it).
This gives you the same nearly perfect exchange rates that the bank gets the day you go, in almost every country, time and time again, unlike most debit and credit cards that add a “ foreign exchange fee. ” non sterling ” by 3%, these do not charge.
There are about eight of these cards, to see which one you are most likely to be accepted for using my overseas cards eligibility checker at mse.me/travelcardcheck, which shows your chances of acceptance for most of them.
If you have a decent chance of all, a Mastercard tends to offer better rates than a Visa. The first two of these are www.halifax.co.uk Clairty, which offers good long term feedback and low ATM withdrawal costs, and a new player www.creation.co.uk Every day the ATM fees are a little cheaper.
It should be noted that it is cheaper to spend on these cards than it is to withdraw money and spend it; because you can pay interest on cash withdrawals (not expenses) even if you completely erase the card. Yet even then they beat most of the money changers.
The best prepaid cards give you the best rate of the day and are easy to get
Prepaid cards don’t have a credit check so anyone can get them. Plus, unlike credit cards where you get the day rate you pass by, with these cards you usually pre-charge them in cash before you travel at the day rate. So it’s a good way to set a rate now for spending later. Of course, if the pound strengthens around the time of your vacation, you lose, if it weakens, you win.
Need cash? Compare rates from over 30 offices
If you want cash, of course you get the rate on the day you pay. Ignore any flannel like ‘commission free’ what you want to know is – if I give you £ 500, how many euros will you give me after all charges? And that’s the way to compare.
You can do it online through my www.travelmoneymax.com site that compares about thirty online offices. It also shows you how outrageous it is to change money at airports or ferry stations. If you have to, at least pre-order for pickup because you get a better deal.
And beware of paying for currencies at UK offices by credit card, this counts as a cash withdrawal so there are fees and interest even if you fully repay – so it’s best to pay with a card debit or cash.
Renting a car abroad, you will need a credit card
Many car rental companies do not accept a debit or prepaid card when you pick up your car. You’ll need a credit card, and remember that you’ll usually pay (or leave the deposit on) in foreign currency, so a specialized overseas card is especially good for this.
If they ask: “Do you want to pay in pounds or euros?” – say “EUROS”. When paying with a card abroad, you are often asked whether you want the transaction to be in British pounds or in the local currency. As a rule of thumb never pay in pounds sterling – that means the store / bank abroad is converting and the rates are usually horrendous.
Martin Lewis is the founder and president of MoneySavingExpert.com. To join the 12 million people who receive their free weekly Money Tips email, visit www.moneysavingexpert.com/latesttip