Do you haggle for the best travel money exchange rate?


May 27, 2014
Do you haggle for the best travel money exchange rate?

Want to get more from your travel money; then don’t leave the haggling to when you are abroad trying to get the best price for a bag or watch; start haggling today.

These days more of us shop around either online or on the high street for our holiday spends, looking for the best travel money deal which is great news but take care; all is not what it seems!

I was listening to the radio about getting the best travel money exchange rates on the BBC’s Money Box programme with Paul Lewis last week and was amazed to hear that a number of companies have the flexibility to change the quoted exchange rate, but only when pressed by the customer.

Simon Calder, the travel writer who was being interviewed recorded himself trying to buy holiday money on the high street. On challenging the exchange rate he had been quoted asking for the best deal, some outlets had room to manoeuvre giving the infamous mystery shopper a much better rate of exchange.

I guess it’s a case of, if you don’t ask, you don’t get!

A spokesperson for Thomas Cook confirmed this by stating their retail managers did have some discretion when it comes to exchange rates. At the end of the day, even if is only enough to buy a few sangrias it all helps so why not try it?

If like me you prefer to avoid the shops in favour of your lap top, then there are a number of easy to use comparison websites available offering the best currency exchange rates, so it pays to shop around online.  

Oh and if you are looking for the best exchange rates, don’t leave it until the last minute. If you have the funds available and can afford it, start looking a couple of months ahead of your trip, keeping an eye on movement in exchange rates and the various deals available to you.

Supermarkets carry special offers from time to time which can be worth looking at, so keep an eye out for the adverts when shopping at places like ASDA, Sainsbury and Marks & Spencer.

You can of course leave it until you get to the airport but you will usually end up losing out and getting a poor deal. Airports are only really advisable if you have left things too late and need to get cash on the fly (no pun intended)!

If you choose to book your holiday through a travel agent, you will usually be offered their travel insurance and foreign currency as part of their ‘upsell’ patter. Never accept it until you have had chance to shop around first; it maybe the best offer (usually it’s not though!) but how do you know if you haven’t compared prices first?

When it comes to paying for your foreign currency with a credit or debit card, you should expect to pay a 2.5% surcharge made by the card providers so if you can pay by cash, you could save a bit more money to go in your holiday kitty!

And whilst I’m on the subject of cards, if you are planning to use your credit or debit card whilst you are out of the country, check first how much your provider will charge you as they don’t tend to be cheap. You don’t want a nasty sun tan fading surprise when you get your next statement do you?

If you are considering how much foreign money to take with you, the Which? website recommends that you only take as much as your travel insurance policy will cover you for. They also advise not to carry the money around with you when you get there but instead, leave some in the hotel/villa safe box. Basically only take with you what you think you will need; this may help the pennies go further too.

Happy holidays!


Ashley Shepherd is an Over 50s Personal Finance Expert

ashley shepherd

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