A guide to H&T’s travel money service and currency exchange
We all want to get the best value for money when doing our holiday planning. While most of us are aware that biding our time and carrying out some research can help us save on flights and accommodation, we don’t always put just as much thought into how to get the best rates when buying travel money.
Disclaimer: Please be advised, we’ve written this blog to share some of our thoughts and ideas, if you are in need of free and impartial financial advice, please speak to The Money Advice Service.
Currency exchange is one of H&T’s most popular services. We take 0% commission on all foreign currencies, making our travel money service one of the most competitive around. But of course, as with any currency exchange supplier, these rates change daily. Fluctuations in the cost of currency can be confusing if you don’t understand what an exchange rate is in the first place. To help you get the best deal possible, we’ve put together a guide that covers everything you need to know about the subject, from how exchange rates are determined to how to get travel money from your local H&T.
We’ve covered the following topics in this guide:
- Exchange rates: The basics
- What are exchange rates?
- How are exchange rates determined?
- How to work out exchange rates
- Getting your travel money
- When is the best time to exchange currency?
- How much cash can you travel with?
- Where to exchange your currency
- Currency exchange with H&T
- The benefits of exchanging your money with H&T
- How to exchange currency with H&T
- Exchange rate glossary
Exchange rates: The basics
It’s important to understand the basics of exchange rates so you know you’re getting a fair deal every time. Here we’ll take you through what exchange rates are and how they are determined.
What are exchange rates?
An exchange rate (also known as a “foreign exchange rate” or “forex rate”) is how much one currency is worth in terms of another. For example, the Great British pound’s (GBP) exchange rate will tell you how much £1 is worth in a foreign currency, and vice versa. So, if you see that the GBP to Euro exchange rate is 1.15, you will receive €1.15 for every £1 you choose to exchange.
How are exchange rates determined?
Exchange rates are fluctuating all the time, often multiple times a day. The exchange rate is set by the foreign exchange market (also known as Forex, FX, or the currency market). It is basically a stock market where traders can buy, sell, and exchange currencies. It operates 24 hours a day, Monday to Friday, which is why exchange rates often seem to stand still over the weekend.
All world currencies exist in their most basic form on the stock market. Currencies are bought and sold by investors, who make money by purchasing currencies when the exchange rates are low, and selling them for a profit when the rates rise. The value of any currency depends on investors – if they think a currency might lose value in the near future, then they will sell. If lots of investors decide to sell, then the price will go down and the rates will fall.
There are lots of factors that can affect exchange rates, which is why it’s impossible to predict when the rates will be at their best. The current rate is largely based on how healthy the trading relationship is between two countries. But, to give you an idea of what goes into deciding the value of currencies, here are some of the main factors which can determine exchange rates:
- Political instability: If a country does not have a stable, functioning government then foreign investors will be wary of trading with that country.
- Inflation: Typically, a country with a consistently low inflation rate will have a rising currency value. This is because its purchasing power will increase over time relative to other currencies.
- Natural disasters: A bad storm, flood, earthquake, or wildfire can do a huge amount to a nation’s currency. The main problem is loss of infrastructure, making productivity and trade difficult, if not impossible, in key areas.
- Terms of trade: This is a measure of how competitive a nation is when it comes to trade with other countries. In the simplest of terms, it is the average price of a country’s exports divided by the average price of its imports. An increase in terms of trade shows a higher demand for a country’s exports, and this usually results in a strong currency.
How to work out exchange rates
The good news is you don’t need to know how to calculate exchange rates, as you can easily find up to date information on your currency of choice on the internet. However, this is likely to show you a different rate than what you can actually get on the high-street or online, as foreign exchange is not a ‘one rate fits all’ situation.
For example, you may be looking at the spot rate (also known as the interbank rate). This is only used by large financial institutions when trading significant amounts of foreign currency. Tourists cannot buy their travel money at this rate, as they exchange much smaller amounts — this is similar to how there are wholesale and retail prices for goods.
When it comes to understanding what this means for you in real terms, you can calculate how much your money is worth in almost any foreign currency today using our travel money service. If you’re happy with the rate you’re given, you can order it online to be delivered to your local store.
Getting your travel money
Understanding what exchange rates are and how they work is crucial, but knowing how, where, and when to get your travel money is just as important for getting the best deal. Here we’ll take you through the essential information you need for getting your currency exchanged, including where to do it and when is the best time, as well as the limits you need to take into consideration.
When is the best time to exchange currency?
Many holidaymakers leave it until the last minute to exchange their cash, but this often means that they don’t get the best value for their money. In fact, buying your holiday money at the airport is usually the least cost-effective option. You pay a premium for the convenience, and are also waiting on the day’s exchange rates, whatever they might be.
Instead, you should make time to get the best deal for your money. It’s incredibly difficult to guess whether exchange rates will go up or down from day to day. But, if you make an effort to check them every few days, you’ll be able to get a decent idea of what a good rate looks like.
During particularly turbulent times, they can change quite dramatically from one week to the next. So, if you’ve booked a holiday, you should monitor the exchange rates for a few months before you go. Better yet, consider downloading a smartphone app that will give you live updates and send you notifications if there are any changes.
How much cash can you travel with?
When it comes to how much cash you can fly abroad with, this largely depends on your destination. There is no cash limit when it comes to taking money in and out of Great Britain, but if you are departing or arriving with £10,000 or more in cash, you must declare this to UK customs. Similarly, if you are travelling to or from EU countries or the US, you must declare if you are carrying €10,000 or more in cash, or $10,000 or more in cash respectively. While 10,000 is a common limit, this isn’t the case for every country. For example, in Vietnam any amount over 15 million Vietnamese dong/5,000 US dollars in cash must be declared, while in Thailand you only have to declare the equivalent of 20,000 US dollars or more.
Of course, when it comes to how much money to take on holiday, most of us don’t travel with these large amounts of cash. But in countries where there are very few ATMs, or cash is much more widely used than cards, these large amounts are sometimes necessary. Wherever you travel, you can be subject to strict penalties if you fail to declare your cash if necessary. With this in mind, always make sure to check the laws and guidelines for the country you’re visiting before taking out your cash.
Where to exchange your currency
Although there is only ever one official exchange rate between two currencies, businesses who buy and sell currency on the high street will set their own rate. This is higher than the official exchange rate by a small amount, so that these businesses are able to make money and pay for their running costs. Each travel money provider will ‘add on’ a different amount, with some being much more expensive than others.
Foreign exchanges at airport terminals and international rail stations may be more expensive compared to high-street providers, so be prepared to possibly pay a little more if you leave it until the last minute. It’s usually cheaper if you get your travel money in advance and compare rates before you buy.
While companies offering foreign currency exchange rates can often advertise best guaranteed rates, these messages can mean little when you inspect the small print. Shop around before making any decisions, as you may find you can get much more for your money elsewhere, particularly if you’re exchanging a larger amount. By keeping an eye on the exchange rates in the run up to purchasing your travel cash, you can protect yourself from being caught out by higher-than-usual rates, sneaky extra fees, and hidden charges.
If you’re wondering where to get travel money for your next getaway, make sure to check out the exchange rates at your local branch of H&T. We have a wide variety of currencies available to order and we take 0% commission on all foreign currency.
Currency exchange with H&T
If you’re searching for the best place to get travel money on the high street, look no further than H&T. We offer fair and competitive currency exchange rates, making us the ideal choice when preparing for your next getaway. Find out more about the benefits of getting travel money from H&T and how to exchange currency with us below.
The benefits of exchanging your money with H&T
There are a number of places on the high street and online you can get travel money, but at H&T we strive to give you the best currency exchange service around. Below are just a few of the reasons to choose us when preparing for your next trip abroad:
- 0% commission: As already mentioned, at H&T we take 0% commission on all foreign currencies. This allows H&T Pawnbrokers to provide you with some of the most competitive travel money rates on the market.
- Currency buyback: If you have leftover cash after your holiday that you don’t think you’ll use in the future, you can pop back into your local branch to use our currency buyback service and exchange your remaining currency into GBP.
- Competitive rates: To ensure H&T are giving our customers the most competitive currency rates, we will beat the exchange rate of any local competitor within 3 miles of your local H&T. You can find out more about this offer in our terms and conditions.
- Large selection of currencies: We have a large collection of currencies available at H&T — you can find out more about some of our most commonly requested ones with our currencies of the world guide. Many of our stores stock an ample selection of US dollars and euros for you to pop in and pick up anytime. But you can also get a selection of less commonly found currencies by ordering in advance. Whether you’re looking for Hungarian Forint or Omani Rial, you can find what you’re looking for with H&T.
- Order online: We have a wide variety of currencies available to order online for your convenience and collect from your local branch at a time that suits you.
- Nationwide collection: We have over 250 stores nationwide, so the chances are you have a branch close by.
- Fantastic customer service: As well as having competitive travel money rates and a quick and convenient service, you can rest assured you’ll have a pleasant experience with our friendly team members. Our customer service staff are always happy to answer your queries, whether this is in your local branch or on the phone.
How to exchange currency with H&T
If you’re impressed with H&T’s travel money rates and convenient service and you’re ready to exchange currency with us, the good news is that doing so couldn’t be simpler. Once you’ve decided the amount of travel money you’re looking to exchange, you can either call up your local branch to put in a request or order your currency online.
If you opt for our handy online service, simply choose your desired currency and type in the amount of GBP you would like to exchange. Please bear in mind that there is a minimum order value of £100 when using our online service and we will round your order value up to provide you with the nearest available currency denomination if necessary. Then all you need to do is choose your local branch to collect your order from, choose a date to pick your order up, and provide us with your contact information, date of birth, and card details to place your order. When your order is ready, you can pick it up from your chosen branch — don’t forget to ask our friendly team about our handy buyback service.
If you can’t find the currency that you’re looking for on the dropdown menu on our online currency calculator, we may still be able to source the currency you need. You can give your local branch a call to enquire about this and we will do our utmost to help. You can also call your local branch to find out if we have your desired currency and the amount you’re looking for in stock. If we do, our team will set it aside for you so you can pop in and pick it up.
Exchange rate glossary
The phrases used when discussing exchange rates can be confusing. To help you understand the jargon, we’ve put together this handy glossary of travel money terms. If you’re not sure what something means when researching foreign currency, you should find the answer right here. If you’d like to see any other definitions added to this list, please feel free to get in touch with us.
- Buy back: Some foreign-exchange providers (including H&T) will allow you to sell your leftover foreign currency back to them at a guaranteed rate.
- Buy rate: The buy rate shows how much you can sell leftover foreign currency back to companies like us for. So, for example, if you had just returned from France, we would exchange your euros for pounds at the current buy rate.
- Commission: Commission is simply a fee that foreign-exchange providers charge for exchanging currencies. This is added as either a flat fee, or a percentage of the amount you exchange.
- Cross rate: This is the rate you’re given if you make an exchange that doesn’t involve the local currency. For example, if you were in the UK and wanted to exchange US dollars for euros, we would exchange your currency from dollars to pounds, and then pounds to euros. Therefore, you would be given a cross-rate for this transaction.
- Fixed (pegged) exchange rates: A fixed exchange rate exists when a country’s government or central bank has decided to tie its official exchange rate to the value of another country’s currency, or to the price of gold. The purpose of this is to keep the value of a country’s currency within a narrow band. Typically, countries with developing economies will have fixed exchange rates, while most major industrialised nations have floating exchange rate systems.
- Floating exchange rates: Floating exchange rates — also known as fluctuating or flexible exchange rates — are allowed to rise and fall in response to shifts in the foreign exchange market. They are typically based on supply and demand compared to other currencies.
- Sell rate: This is the rate at which you will be sold foreign currencies. For example, if you were planning a holiday to the US, we would exchange your pounds for US dollars at the sell rate.
- Spot rate: The spot rate is known more formally as the interbank rate. It is the rate that banks are given when trading significant amounts of foreign currency and is not available to the general public.
You can find preferential rates for currencies at H&T stores across the UK. We take 0% commission on all foreign currency, plus we offer currency buyback should you have some left over after your trip. If you have any questions about foreign currency and how to exchange your money, please don’t hesitate to contact us.
As well as ordering in-store, we also have the option to order foreign currencies online. The travel money you’ve bought will then be delivered free of charge to your local store for collection. We’ve got over 250 branches nationwide, so finding us should be easy.