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8 Common Travel Money Mistakes to Avoid

Published: 31 Aug 2018

8 Common Travel Money Mistakes to Avoid


Going on holiday abroad is exciting, and if you’ve got a trip planned soon it’s likely you’re looking forward to a well-earned treat. For many this includes indulging in things that you’d rarely do at home; such as shopping for luxury goods, eating out more often and enjoying activities or excursions. Of course, to do all of these things, you need money. Cash continues to be the most popular method of spending abroad (around 80% of people opt for taking cash abroad), but of course you must exchange your British Pounds for the currency most used at your destination before you go. 


While purchasing foreign currency might seem like something you can forget about until the last minute – after all, there are currency exchanges everywhere and there is a lot to consider before going away – it’s actually very easy to pay over the odds if you don’t plan ahead. Many people make mistakes which are easily avoided when exchanging currency, and this can result in them receiving far less than they should have for their hard earned money.


In this week’s article, we’re looking at 8 basic mistakes you could be making with your travel money every single day, which could be costing you money. They’re surprisingly easy mistakes to make, and they’re equally as simple to avoid if you know what to look out for. Read on to ensure you don’t lose out the next time you require foreign currency.


1. Buying your foreign currency at the airport


The number one rule when buying foreign currency is that you should NEVER get it at the airport before you leave. The currency exchanges at airports are known to offer the most expensive rates out there, meaning you’ll get much less currency for your money. As they’re the last port of call for disorganised or forgetful travellers, they know they can charge more and still get plenty of business. Avoid paying over the odds by planning ahead, and getting your foreign currency well in advance of your departure date.


2. Using a debit or credit card


Of course, cash is not the only way of spending overseas. Using debit and credit cards is also popular, as is using prepaid travel cards. If you are planning to use your debit or credit cards for spending abroad, it’s always advisable to check your bank’s rules for that particular card or account. You may incur large fees for spending abroad, and additional charges when taking money out of cash machines. Only use cards designed for use abroad, and always check the currency you need is supported – particularly if it’s an unusual destination.


3. Using ATMs abroad


A sure-fire way to rack up needless and expensive charges is to use ATMs when in a foreign country. Exchanging money this way does not usually get you the most favourable exchange rate, and additional charges will almost always be levied on top of this at the bank or cash machine company’s discretion. If you need to take cash out of an ATM when abroad, use the card which will charge you the least, and take out as much as you think you will need – having to go back and get more cash out will only result in duplicate charges.


4. Not checking the exchange rate


Checking the exchange rate before you go is fundamental to ensure you get a fair and decent deal, yet hardly anyone does it, preferring to trust the travel money provider instead. How can you know you’re buying this currency at the right time if you don’t know what the exchange rate has been doing? Finding out what to expect for your money is simple – Google the exchange rate and use an online foreign currency calculator to see what you’re likely to get.


5. Not being familiar with the currency


Before you go, make sure you become familiar with the currency itself so that you can avoid expensive mistakes, like overpaying for services or getting your coins mixed up. Do some research about your destination to see what the average costs are for the things you want to do. This will give you somewhere to start from when budgeting for your trip overall. It’s also a good idea to find images of the coins you’ll be using when you’re there, as you’ll usually only get notes when exchanging cash. This will help you to identify them quicker when paying, making tipping easier too.


6. Keeping all your travel money in one place


It’s never a good idea to keep all of the cash for your trip in one place, especially if it’s your wallet or baggage. Pickpockets are notorious for seeking out tourists, who will often carry plenty of currency with them, and luggage can always be lost or delayed. Instead, split your cash up and give some to trusted members of your party. Use under-shirt money belts where possible and always keep an eye out. When you reach your destination, always use the safe that’s provided if applicable, and only take out what you need.


7. Not shopping around for the best deal


We’re all used to comparing prices online to get the best deal on a new phone or car insurance, but fewer people tend to take advantage of travel money comparison sites. As there is so much choice when it comes to where you get your foreign currency, it makes sense to check the competition, and see if you can be doing better.


8. Failure to check your insurance policy


You may wonder what your travel insurance has to do with your foreign currency, but it’s not just there to protect you against cancellation or severely delayed flights. If you are unlucky enough to lose your cash to theft or baggage issues, your insurance may cover part or all your currency. In some cases, they may only cover up to £50 worth of cash, so make sure your insurance is providing enough cover for you and your family members. -Use the insurance limit as a guide when splitting your cash for security.


Are you looking for excellent exchange rates on your foreign currency, 0% commission, and convenient travel money pick-up with over 180 UK-wide stores? Check out H&T’s foreign currency exchange – you can order online or simply walk in to any of our branches – we’ve got a wide variety of currencies always in stock and our friendly team can offer some of the best rates on the high street.