This is how much money you should take with you on holiday

Andy Webb

Planning a trip always comes with its fair share of stress. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Try these simple tips for a holiday without the headache

Passport? Check. Tickets? Check. Toothbrush? Check. The list of things we need when we go away can seem endless, and it’s all too easy for something to slip through when packing. That could prove costly if one thing you overlook is travel money.

A little preparation to ensure you’re paying the right way can make a big difference to your holiday spend, from the cost of your hotel to the price you pay for eating out.

 

Avoid travel cash mistakes

Leave your currency conversion to the last minute—eg, after you’ve checked in at the airport—and you’ll get the worst possible exchange rate.

Instead, you’re far better off picking it up in advance. Enter your postcode and destination into the comparison website TravelMoneyMax.com and you’ll be able to see where you can get the most foreign currency for your pound. You can collect it in person or have it posted to you (though check for extra delivery fees).

Bigger cities, especially London, tend to have the most competitive bureaus de change, often far cheaper than banks and building societies.

If you only remember when it’s too late to do this, then pre-ordering to collect at the airport will give you better rates than just going to the bureau in the departure lounge. Travelex allow you to do this up to four hours before you need to collect.

 

Get the right card

With most debit or credit cards you’ll be hit with extra charges when you use them to spend overseas or withdraw cash. The worst can add 3% and a flat charge of around £1 per transaction.

Instead it’s worth applying for a specialist card which will offer you zero fees for spending. The Halifax Clarity, Barclaycard Platinum Travel and Santander Zero credit cards are among the options available. You do have to pay the balance off in full each month, however, to avoid getting charged interest.

If you prefer a current account, the new smart banks Monzo and Starling also won’t charge you to spend. However, you’ll need to be tech savvy as these banks don’t have branches or even phone lines. Instead, you manage your account completely through an app on your smartphone. I’d always recommend taking more than one specialist card with you, ideally a Visa and a Mastercard just in case you face problems using one. This is more likely if you’re going to far flung locations. And keep the spare card in your hotel safe rather than on your person so you still have it if your main card goes missing.

 

Using cards abroad

Once you’ve got your specialist card, you might be tempted to use overseas cash machines to withdraw your currency. This can often be even cheaper than preordering before you leave the UK. But do check that there aren’t extra fees for doing this, both by the card provider and the cash machine operator.

Watch out for retailers and restaurants who offer you the chance to pay in pounds as well. Do this and you’ll be converting at a far higher exchange rate than when you pay in the local currency on a fee-free card.