Travel Money

Even though the focus of our site is on international bank to bank transfers, expat remittances, and business foreign exchange services, we felt there’s a growing need for a guide relating to buying travel money (“Holiday Money”). This guide is mostly relevant for UK residents who want to avoid the high costs relating to bureaus and banks, and want want to buy Euros, Dollars, Australian Dollars or any other currency for reduced costs, ahead of time. Enjoy our travel money guide!

Travel Money Exchange Rate Comparison

Cash Exchange + Home Delivery Options

These are the markups our blind testing in January 4, 2015, have demonstrated. We only checked popular currencies.


AceFX

Fees: £5 on all transfers below £1,000; Extra £2 Saturday; Extra £7 Next-day

Exchange Rate Markup Avg. Transfer: 2%

Moneycorp

Fees: £5 Below £500 (Delivery); Free above the mark

Exchange Rate Markup Avg. Transfer: 2.5%

Thomas Cook

Fees: 1.5% Fees for Credit Cards

 

Exchange Rate Markup Avg. Transfer: 2.4%

Travelex

Fees: None

Exchange Rate Markup Avg. Transfer: 3%

Change group

Fees: £5 Below £500 (Delivery)

Exchange Rate Markup Avg. Transfer: 3.5%

NatWest Bank

Fees: £5 Below £500 (Delivery)

Exchange Rate Markup Avg. Transfer: 4.2%

Thompston

Fees: None

Exchange Rate Markup Avg. Transfer: 3.5%

Barclay’s

Fees: none

Exchange Rate Markup Avg. Transfer: 5%

RBS

Fees: £5 Below £500 (Delivery)

Exchange Rate Markup Avg. Transfer: 4.5%


Buying Euros, US Dollars, Australian Dollars Cheap:

 Live Travel Exchange Rates

Estimated live rates based on our research August 1st 2015, using the fees and markups from previous page. £1,000 transfer to Euro. Today’s Exchange Rates Available here.

AceFX

Pay: £1,000

Get: 1,071.8605 EUR Saturday; 1,066.3974 EUR Next-day

Moneycorp

Pay: £1,000

Get: 1,065.3048 EUR to 1,072.9531 EUR

Thomas Cook

Pay: £1,000

Get: Approx. 1,076.2310 EUR or  1,059.8417 EUR with CC.

Travelex

Pay: £1,000

Get: 1,059.8417 EUR

Change group

Pay: £1,000

Get: 1,054.3786 EUR

NatWest Bank

Pay: £1,000

Get: 1,046.7302 EUR

Thompston

Pay: £1,000

Get: 1,054.3786 EUR

Barclay’s

Pay: £1,000

Get: 1,037.9893 EUR

RBS

Pay: £1,000

Get: 1,043.4524 EUR


Notes: Based on an impartial research conducted by the Money Transfer Comparison staff in Nov 6, 2015, made on transfers of 500 and 1000 Pounds to Euro. The live exchange rates are for indicative purposes only. 

To read more about the companies featured you are welcomed to read our money transfer reviews which can provide an indication to trustworthiness of these firms: FairFX review, Moneycorp review, Travelex Review.

Cheap Holiday Money – How To

Different Alternatives for holiday money:

In cash via exchange bureaus

This is probably one of the most common ways to buy currency before a holiday.

Advantages: Easy if live beside a bureau, Cash delivered on the spot

Disadvantages: Often consists of hidden fees, impossible to compare to alternatives, hassle to get there if it is not walking distance from your house, unsafe to walk with cash, a chance of fraud / forgery, often bad exchange rates.

With banks (cash on the spot, or home collection)

This is the traditional “safe” way of getting money exchanged.

Advantages: Safe, Secure, and Insured

Disadvantages: Extremely expensive. Look at our comparison above. In some cases you’d be paying twice as much using a bank rather than using a commercial companies. If you have a transparent quote that beats the 2-2.5% mark, then it might be a good idea to give banks a try.

Currency Cards

As debit spending passes the 600bn barrier in the UK for the first time, it’s only natural people would love foreign currency cards. These are specialised cards that allow you to exchange at set rates, and have several different currencies loaded on the same card.

Advantages: No hassle required. Simply take your card with you as you travel abroad.

Disadvantages: Debit currency cards are usually a very good choice, and the same rates mentioned above will apply also to currency exchanges on the card. On the other hand if it’s a foreign currency credit card, saving is unlikely – and charges abroad could incur additional 3% in interest.

Traveler’s cheques

Traveler’s cheques are not as half as popular as they were before as a mean of travel money purchase, with good reason.

Advantages: Insured against losses, No need to carry large amount of cash around

Disadvantages: Often expensive, archaic (hard to find cash exchange points), and online order is possible only from £400

Travel Currency Firms

This is probably the way to get the cheapest travel money in Australian Dollars, Euro, US Dollars, Czech Koruna, Canadian Dollar or Swiss Frank.

Advantages: Easy to execute with online purchase with debit card, multiple pickup options including cash at airport, home delivery, or loading into a prepaid card. On top of that, they offer the best exchange rates, superior client service.

Disadvantages: It depends which company is it. Some companies, and mainly the popular ones like Western Union and Moneygram are not particularly popular with their clients – and poorly rated on our website as well.

Bank to bank / Multi-currency Online Wallet

This method is usually not applicable when you go on a holiday someplace abroad, but when it is, it a potential huge saver against all other alternatives, by a far cry.

Advantages: Safe, Secure, Done online or via phone, higher limits, and exchange rate could potentially be much better.

Disadvantages: Longer process involving a domestic bank transfer, which is then sent abroad. More documentation to register. Besides that it’s a question of usage.

If you are going on a long journey and will have a bank account in your holiday destination, then this is an obvious solution.

If you are paying a travel company abroad with their local currency, it’s again a very easy way of transferring funds to their bank account (not necessarily upfront, you can secure current rate for the future). View our currency transfer comparison and send money abroad page to find companies that can do that transaction. In other cases, it’s not extremely useful. You should avoid sending money to people you don’t know with the hope they would be a corridor for your money to arrive; these kind of things can typically lead to disheartening scenarios.

Note: with several companies such as Currencies Direct you can switch between different currencies online by yourself and withdraw that money out into your back account instantly. 


 This article is a part of MoneyTransferComparion.com’s Comparison Series. View additional comparative pieces:

Compare Money Transfer Companies

Compare Remittance Providers

Compare Business FX

Compare Banks and FX Companies

Compare Transferwise VS Currencyfair

Compare eWallets


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Charlotte martin

I used moneycorp to order travel money. Upon completion of the order a message came up saying they couldn’t complete my order however they had still taken the funds from my account and to call a given number to arrange a refund which could take 2 working days. As I am going on holiday in 2 days this isn’t really acceptable. I. Allied to try and arrange something but they said nothing could be done even though the money had been taken. They asked if I would like to try again to which I had to respond I can’t, you… Read more »

Ciara O'reilly

I have recently been to London on a trip with my cousins and exchanged my euros to sterling at a moneycorp branch at Stansted airport in London. I received 199 pounds sterling for 290 euros at a rate of 1.41 and a charge of 4.99 pounds sterling. I thought this seemed very off when I received the sterling and I researched it. I should have gotten around 254 pounds sterling. I am a 15-year-old girl who has worked for and saved up this money to spend on a trip with my cousins and I was very disappointed when I found… Read more »

Massimo

Just recently I started using FairFX and I can’t believe I dind’t start many years ago. I travel quite often and if I get a discount somewhere somehow, I will take it. But never knew I can save so much money when changing currencies.

Small tip to anyone reading this page – stop exchanging currencies at your local bank. It’s a total ripoff!

Yasmin

Thanks for the article. Been exchanging with Barclays for years and never really bothered to search for alternatives until recently. I will try FairFX for my upcoming trip and see how it goes.

Wondering if they have more currencies or the usual GBP, EUR and USD?

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