3 tips for making your travel money last longer

Making your travel money last longer is important for any traveller, regardless of whether you are on a shoe-string budget, or travelling in luxury. Nobody wants to pay money where they don’t have to. The following are 3 easy tips that you can implement today, which will save you money on the road.

Look for 0% commission on foreign currency exchange

When organising your travel cash prior to your trip, where you choose to get your foreign currency from can save you a lot of money. The reason for this is that some places will charge a commission for exchanging your money with them, and others won’t. The key is to look for those with a 0% commission for exchanging your money, as this means that you will just get a direct swap for whatever the current exchange rate is. A simple Google search will tell you where you can find places with 0% commission near you, but typically its organisations such as your local bank, or other large organisations where the exchanging foreign currency isn’t their main source of income.

Use the ATM instead of exchanging money abroad

Whenever you arrive into a new country, you will no doubt notice the amount of Travelex booths in the airport, international train/bus stations, and sometimes in the city centre or areas most popular with tourists. Although these services can be convenient sometimes, 9 times out of 10 I find the exchange rate I’m given at the ATM is actually much better than what I’ll get in one of these foreign currency exchange booths. If you use a global bank, you can withdraw money from an ATM machine run by one of their partner banks abroad for free. You won’t be charged an ATM fee (which you would normally be charged when using your debit card abroad at around £1.50 per withdrawal depending on the bank). Even if you are using an ATM which isn’t a partner with your bank though, if you withdraw most of the money you need at one time, the small charge + better exchange rate is usually still cheaper.

Use foreign currency bank cards

I just recently got a Euro card, Dollar (USD) card, and another foreign currency card which works in all remaining currencies. For the Euro and Dollar cards, I just transfer however much Euros or Dollars I plan on spending onto the card. On the day of the transfer, they just exchange the cash at the current exchange rate on that day, from pounds to euros or dollars. There are no fees for putting money on the card, and any transactions that I then make abroad, either payments made by card in shops, pubs etc, or ATM withdrawals, are completely free, i.e. I just spend what I want with no fees or charges to my card like I would with a typical debit card abroad. With the other card, I simply upload pounds onto the card. When I use the card in say Hungary for example, whatever I pay for with the card is just exchanged at the current exchange rate on the date the transaction or withdrawal was made. Same goes for if I use it in Russia, Thailand, etc. If I was just to use my UK debit or credit cards however, I would be charged £1.50 per transaction. This therefore saves me a lot of money when I am travelling for long periods and therefore making a number of transactions per day. It also means I am not forced to take out large sums of cash from the ATM, but can pay for things just as I go by card as I don’t have to worry about saving on transaction fees. The terms and conditions of your foreign currency card can differ depending upon which company you decide to go through to get one, so always check before taking anything out. It also may be different depending on your country of origin, but in most countries there is usually a bank which offers foreign currency cards similar to what I’ve described above.

3 Responses to “3 tips for making your travel money last longer”

  1. Alouise says:

    Great tips. ATM fees can add up if you have to pay them, which is why when I travel I’d take out larger about. Why spend $1.50 for a $20 withdrawl when you spend the same fee for a $200 withdrawl?

    Also I know a lot of people might think hotels offer the best exchange rates, they don’t. I work for a hotel and right now we offer 90 cents Canadian for every US dollar – and the exchange rate is close to par. Hotels don’t update their exchange rates very often, so unless there’s no other choice go to a bank or ATM.

  2. Indeed, these are great tips.

  3. One note about some zero commision exchange places, check their exchange rate, often it is bad enough that it ends up costing more than the commission.
    Also, most credit cards give a great rate on purchases (bank rate as of day of transaction) or at least my American cards do. Couldn’t speak for others.
    Thanks for the tips.


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