10 Ways to get the best deals on your holiday currency

Marianne Curphey 

As the summer approaches, so do thoughts of holidays abroad. It can be an expensive time of year, but planning ahead can keep your costs down and help you make the most of your holiday pounds.

1. Pre-buy insurance

travel insurance

Purchase insurance when you book your flights and accommodation—don’t leave it until the day before you travel to arrange your cover.

If one of your party is unwell or you have a family emergency that forces you to cancel you will be glad you have insurance. Check out MoneySavingExpert’s guide to finding the right cover for you.


2. Order your holiday currency early

If you wait until you are at the airport before you change money then you certainly won’t get the best rates. In fact, you can end up paying up to 10 per cent more than if you used an online foreign exchange service. So instead, shop around online to find the best deal.

Don’t forget to check the commission rate and postage costs as well as the advertised exchange rate and work out the total price. If you buy well enough in advance, you can opt for standard delivery of your cash to your home—the service is often free.


3. Plan ahead for car hire

car hire

You can shop around for good deals online, but don’t forget that the cheapest rates may not necessarily be the best so check some major car hire companies like Avis Car Hire. Make sure you know whether insurance is included and whether there are any excesses if you have an accident.

The lowest priced deals often have expensive but essential add-ons. The AA has a good guide to what you should look out for.

4. Tell your bank or credit card provider you are travelling

Let them know where you are going and for how long and they can make a note of it on their system. That way, you are much more likely to have your card approved when buying goods and services.

Bear in mind the charges you will face for using your card abroad. A lot of debit and credit cards really rack up the charges if you use them to shop abroad, and you can be hit by hefty fees if you withdraw cash via an ATM. This can amount to 3 per cent of the purchase price or a £1.50 fee each time you spend.

Beat the charges by opting for the Halifax Clarity card or the Sainsburys Gold card (which includes worldwide insurance but does charge £5 a month).

5. Consider taking a spare credit card

spare card

This is worthwhile in case your primary one is lost or stolen or has a high holding balance on it by a car hire company or hotel.

You can check the fees for using your credit card from information on the back of your monthly statement, on the travel money website of your card issuer or by contacting the customer helpline.

If you are offered the option of having your card charged in sterling or a local currency, then choose the local currency as you are likely to be a better rate.

6. Save money on calls abroad

Before you go, check what the charges are for making calls while abroad. Your mobile network provider will be able to explain. USwitch has a good guide to using your mobile phone abroad.

Although the European Union has voted to completely remove roaming charges by June 2017, all networks have their own add-on packages for those going away either on holiday or business. These entitle you a set amount of calls, texts and data overseas for a one-off charge. Leaving the EU may change the way UK users are charged in the future.

If you have a Skype account you can use an internet café to make calls via a wi-fi network or use a wi-fi hotspot for your mobile phone.

7. Find super cheap flights

cheap flights

Using a website like Cheap Flights will show you what deals are available at short notice, with a price comparison service.

8. Book airport car parks in advance

Airport parking can be very costly if you turn up and park, so try booking ahead with Air Parks which covers all the major UK airports.

9. Make sure your passport is valid for your destination


For some destinations, especially in the Middle East and Asia, including Thailand, need you to have six months’ validity left on your passport to fly.

Don’t forget to keep an eye on the Foreign Office’s travel advice for your destination. You can find it here

10. Check which inoculations (if any) you will need before you travel

You may need to have injections up to a month before you go, so find out as soon as you have booked by using the NHS website Fit for Travel.


Read more advice from Marianne Curphey

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