Useful Info: Getting Money Abroad
When organising any trip abroad, one of the less exciting aspects is organising your finances. Deciding how much money you’ll need, whether you need an ‘emergency’ stash and who’s going to pay for what is complicated enough, and that’s before you’ve even arrived! In a bid to make organising travel finances a bit easier, here is our breakdown of the different ways to carry the money for your trip.
While it is exciting at the beginning of your holiday to have a huge wad of shiny new notes, taking the budget for your entire trip in cash isn’t a great idea – it may not be safe and you have no protection should your money be lost or stolen. Instead, we recommend taking enough cash with you for the first few days, and using another method to hold the rest of your budget. Regardless of how much money you have with you, try to be discrete with your cash and ensure you split it between two separate places – some in a zippered pocket and some in a wallet, for example.
Safe, secure and hugely popular, traveller’s cheques make it easy to carry large amounts of money at once. Once bought, they can be exchanged for cash at major banks and many bureau de change offices across the globe. You may find, however, that you’re charged when you buy them or even when you redeem them. The positive of traveller’s cheques is that if lost or stolen, they can be replaced.
Don’t wait until you’re at the airport to exchange your currency – you won’t get a good deal on the exchange rate and will probably also need to pay a commission charge. Be careful when trying to exchange cash abroad also – it can sometimes be more costly. Instead, order your required currency online and have it delivered to you, or go to a reputable bureau de change – the Post Office can exchange many currencies for you in store.
Many bank accounts do allow you to take money out abroad in the local currency, however, there are a number of downsides to doing this. Firstly, bank charges for withdrawing cash abroad usually sits at round 3%, and you’re not guaranteed a good exchange rate either. As well as this, in some countries, ATMs are uncommon and you may struggle to find one when you need cash.
A reasonable solution if you want to have an ‘emergency fund’ or are planning on buying some expensive items whilst you’re away. For any items bought on a credit card, you’ll have consumer rights – including protection if the company goes bust or if you are sold something which costs over £100 and is faulty or damaged which you cannot return or exchange. The exchange rate is generally quite good and if you pay the card off at the end of the month it’s free credit. Don’t use your credit card to take cash out, though – you’ll be charged a ‘cash advance’ fee, which will usually start at around £4.
Pre-loaded Money Cards
It’s now also possible to buy cards which can be loaded with the local currency before you leave. Whilst there may be a joining fee for these cards, the exchange rate can be favourable and they can be used as a debit card would be. In emergencies, someone at home can also top up the card for a little extra cash.