If you are heading to the USA it's a good idea to start looking to buy your currency well in advance of your departure.

When buying US dollars, it's important that you shop around for the best dollar exchange rate. If you don't, it could end up costing you a significant amount.

Why you should shop around for the best pound to dollar exchange rate

There are dozens of places where you can buy foreign currency. From the Post Office to your bank or building society and even your local supermarket, lots of retailers and financial services companies now compete to offer the best dollar to pound exchange rate.

However, buying from your own bank or local travel agent may not be the best idea. Their dollar sterling exchange rate may not be competitive when compared with other providers and you may also pay a high level of commission.

Consequently shopping around before you buy your US dollars is crucial.

What to look for when you compare the best exchange rates for US dollars

There are two main things that you should take into account when searching for the pound to dollar best exchange rate:

  • The dollar sterling exchange rate

  • Commissions and fees

When looking for American travel money it's obviously important to compare the pound to dollar exchange rate. Ensuring that you get the keenest exchange rate will generally give you more US dollars for your cash.

However, it's also important to take other commissions and fees into account.

Some providers charge a commission when they exchange money while others charge for delivering your dollars (for example if you order online).

Make sure you take both the dollar sterling exchange rate and any associated fees into account before you buy your travel money. On a small sum (check with the provider what their minimum online purchase amount is) you may be better off paying a low commission.

However, on a larger order you may be better paying a higher commission if it means you benefit from a lower pound to dollar exchange rate.

Work out how many dollars each provider will give you in return for the amount of sterling you want to exchange and buy your travel money from the company that gives you the best deal.