Travellers' checks

Ten ways to organise holiday cash

1. You’ve planned your holiday in advance – so DON’T make the mistake of leaving the purchase of your travel money to the last minute. Exchange rates you’ll get at airports will be worse than those you can get in advance from pre-paid cards or on the high street.

2. The best deals are usually on pre-paid cards such as Revolut. It offers the rate banks use between themselves and has no rip-off tourist charges added. But you need to order it online and it takes 10 days to arrive ...

3. So if you're stuck with the high street, investigate websites such as to find the best rate. On the high street, supermarkets and the Post Office may have better deals than banks.

4. You can also order holiday money online from currency brokers such as moneycorp and pick it up at the airport. You can even have it delivered to your home for free if you order a reasonable amount (£750 or more from moneycorp).

5. When you buy your currency in the UK, don’t use your credit card or you could end up paying interest on the money even if you clear the balance in full. That’s because some credit cards count such a transaction as a cash withdrawal and charge accordingly.

6. Pre-paid cards are also handy if you’re on a budget and don’t want to overspend. Once loaded, you can then use it like a debit card for spending while on holiday or withdraw cash on it. Watch out for charges on the latter. 

7. Not all debit and credit cards are equal when you are travelling. You could be landed with exchange rate fees and charges for withdrawing cash. However, some cards waive fees and charges saving you money each time you use them. Check out Uswitch for examples here.

8. Watch out when using your debit or credit card to pay for goods and services abroad. If you are offered the option of paying in sterling rather than the local currency say NO. If you pay in pounds, you’ll get a worse exchange rate than the one used by your card issuer.

9. Going somewhere where you’re not used to the currency? Carry a note in your purse of how much, for example, £5 or £50 is in that currency. Or look at sites such as The Money Converter here before you go.

10. Feel better about your extravagant holiday: give leftover foreign currency to charity when you get home. Oxfam and the Alzheimer’s Society are among those who’d like your unwanted foreign coins and banknotes.


More stuff: 

  • There’s a good comparison of cards at Money Saving Expert here
  • Download a currency conversion app for your phone from sites such as XE here.
  • Check out our guide to travel insurance here.


Last updated 7 February 2018.