The end of term is in sight and holidays beckon. Junior may well be packing his or her bag in anticipation of the school cricket tour or trip away with friends. The last thing on their mind is that a few euros or dollars might be handy. This is, of course, mum’s problem.
The Minted household left it too late last year and got royally ripped off with a terrible euro exchange rate. I would have let Dear Son just draw some cash out of the local ATM in Italy or pay for stuff with his own debit card if Lloyds didn’t charge such steep fees for both those foreign services. Finally, Team Minted is very keen on the Revolut prepaid travel card which doesn’t charge purchase fees and offers cracking exchange rates (see my blog here). Alas, like most other prepaid cards, you need to be 18 to use one.
This year, I’ve done a little research and I’ve found two solutions. Firstly, let’s look at cash. Obviously you don’t want to leave it until the last minute and buy it at the airport (unbelievably bad rates). The high street or even the Post Office won’t be much better. A very good tool I’ve found is at Money Saving Expert which finds the best available rate within your local area. That could be at a supermarket, an M&S or a specialist provider. Punch in the amount you need and whether you will collect or want it delivered – easy.
Secondly, buying on a card. In an emergency, of course your child could use their UK debit card. However, the right prepaid card (some do have punitive fees) is cheaper and can be topped up by an adult at home. Some Minted friends are ignoring the under-18 rule by getting a card for themselves and then giving it to their child to use. Presumably the shopkeeper or café owner won’t think it odd that a 14-year old girl is called Gary or Stephen? I’m sure nothing could go wrong…
Instead, you could look at the FairFX Family & Friends prepaid card for 13 year olds and up. This is the only card I've found in the relevant age group. If anyone is aware of any others, please let me know. The catch is that you must already have an existing FairFX card in the chosen currency (or a multicurrency card) so you can transfer funds to the subsidiary F&F card. The primary card is free if you go through Money Saving Expert here and there’s £20 back if you load more than £500 on the card. Then it’s £1 (sterling card) or €1.50 (euro card) to withdraw cash from an ATM but purchases are free and the exchange rates are decent(ish) too. And no-one will have to change their name to Colin.
See the SMM guide to travel money here. And don’t forget travel insurance either!