It should be oh so simple. All you want to do is to change pounds into euros, dollars or anything else, but doing so seems far from simple. Today you can be presented with a choice of cash, travellers cheques, debit or credit cards and now, something new called a prepaid card. It can be difficult to tell the wood from the trees.
So, to cast some light on the often murky world of holiday travel money exchange rates here's a closer look at some of the options which will help you get a better deal for your travel money.
1. Debit cards rule?
You debit card is potentially the cheapest way to change money, but only if you have the right sort.
If you have the right kind of card, when you withdraw cash from an ATM you'll pay the 'interbank' rate. This is the rate which banks charge one another and is generally cheaper than the one us mere mortals receive on the highstreet.
However if your bank account is not the right sort you could be hit with a number of charges including commissions and penalty fees charged for having the temerity to take money abroad.
Before you leave it's a good idea to check with your bank to see what their stance on the issue might be.
The most expensive way to exchange money is to do so at the airport. According to a the Post Office we collectively waste £25million a year doing this, while YouGov estimates using the bureau de change costs on average 11% more. So, imagine you've just changed £600 - straight away you've waved goodbye to £66.
For holiday money best deals, the most effective option is to shop around and these days that's easier to do than ever before thanks to the increased usage of the internet.
Many of the major high street providers are opening up online services with some pretty attractive discounts available for those who go online. The web is also a good source of holiday money advice, with comparison sites pulling together some of the leading offers all in one place.
However, predictably there are problems, not least the security of passing any transaction over the internet.
Foreign exchange is also not regulated so there is no guarantee your funds will be safe should you provider run into any financial problems themselves.
You can reassure yourselves by checking to see how the provider will handle your funds before transferring them - will they be in a separate account and will they be recoverable if the worst should befall the company.
Finally, don't forget to order in plenty of time. It will take several working days for the money to arrive and you'll need to be at home in order to sign for the cash. Some companies have deals which enable you to collect the cash at the airport from the bureau de change.
Then there's the problem of hidden costs. Just searching for the holiday money best exchange rate will not necessarily give you a true value of what it will cost. There may be all sorts of charges such as commission and delivery costs to consider.
In the end the only true way to find out is to run a holiday money converter - namely put into the system how much you want to change and it will show you how much you'll get back. For example, you'll be able to take a sum in pounds and convert that to holiday money euros. Only then will you really know the best exchange rate for holiday money.
3. Travellers Cheques
As with cash don't get these from the airport, but shop around to find the best deal. These are popular as they remove the difficulties of carrying large quantities of cash around with you.
4. Prepaid Cards
The new kids on the block are pre-paid cards. These allow you to preload a card with funds and pay in the same way you would as if you were using a debit cards. Exchange rates are not normally much to get excited about, but these cards are simple and do avoid the issue of carrying large chunks of cash around.
Finally, whatever option you choose, don't forget to do your research and read between the lines. A good exchange rate may be offset by high delivery fees or commission. Meanwhile a commission free sign will probably mean they loaded the costs into the exchange rate.
The best way to know what your getting is to do a test. Most providers will happily tell you how much you can expect to get, while online providers will run a quick calculator. It's quick, easy and gives you a swift transparent guide to how much your money will buy you.
To find the best holiday money rates or to compare holiday money exchange rates use one of our comparison tables.