New research from Which? has shown that holidaymakers could save up to £122 a week by opting for an overseas spending card or credit card instead of buying currency at the airport.
As the summer holiday season approaches, Which? found that credit cards or debit cards, such as Halifax Clarity and Metro Bank (credit and debit), or prepaid cards such as Revolut, provided the best value for tourists for a trip within Europe.
Their low fees and good exchange rates mean that it would cost you just £787 to spend €1000. We found those opting to exchange currency at the airport, such as at travel money service ICE at Birmingham airport, would have to pay £909 to get the same €1,000.
Another way travellers can get around high airport exchange rates is by pre-ordering currency online from an airport bureau de change rather than buying it on the spot. When exchanging £500 for Euros from Moneycorp at Gatwick airport, we found you could get an extra €76 if you pre-ordered.
The same advice applies to high-street money exchanges where you can order online and get a much better price than the walk-in rate. Which? found that you would get €27 extra if you ordered £500 worth of currency online from John Lewis – with pick up points at Waitrose – rather than buying on the high street at the Post Office or Thomas Cook.
Other money-saving tips include:
- Some credit/debit cards can incur substantial charges when spending overseas. However, cards such as Halifax Clarity Credit Card, MBNA Everyday Plus and Metro Bank debit and credit cards allow you to spend without fees in Europe.
- If you use a credit card to withdraw cash from an ATM you will often be charged interest, even if you pay off the card in full at the end of the month. For ATM withdrawals, a Revolut card allows you to withdraw up to £500 of currency a month for free.
- When paying by card abroad, always pay in local currency rather than in pounds sterling as you will typically get a better exchange rate.
- Always ensure you ask for a receipt in case of any disputed transaction during your visit so you can ask your credit-card company for a ‘chargeback’ if necessary. This is where your card provider will refund you the cost of the disputed transaction while it tries to recover the cost from the shop.
Alex Neil, Which? Director of Policy and Campaigns, said:
“Our research shows that holidaymakers who plan ahead can make real savings. Doing a few small things like using an overseas spending card, pre-ordering currency and always paying in the local currency could help you to get more for your money”
Notes to editors
- Which? findings are based on exchange rates gathered from a range of online and high street currency providers as well as prepaid card, credit card and debit card providers. We collected rates on the same day on three consecutive weeks in April 2016. Our figures are based on the three week average exchange rate.
- Best spending options compared
- Buying currency online vs high street
- Currency exchange airport rates
- Which? Guide to using your debit card overseas: http://www.which.co.uk/debitcardabroad
- Which? Guide to the best credit cards to use overseas: http://www.which.co.uk/creditcardsabroad
- The Which? guide to the best and worst prepaid cards: http://www.which.co.uk/prepaidcards