Exchange rate: Never make this very expensive mistake when buying holiday travel money

The exchange rate can seem pretty daunting to the untrained eye. For some people, it’s tricky to know whether the rate they’re getting when they buy travel money for their holidays is any good. To make sure you’re not being ripped off, there’s one major mistake you must avoid.

Ian Strafford-Taylor, CEO of travel money specialist FairFX shared his travel advice with

He explained that you should never leave buying foreign currency until the last minute.

“Travel restrictions are easing and many consumers are understandably excited to get back out and explore the wider world after months in lockdown.

“For those venturing abroad, there are many cheap flight and hotel deals to take advantage of but we’d urge holidaymakers not to waste those savings by leaving their holiday money to the last minute.”

The reason for this is twofold. Firstly, bureau de change desks might not yet be opened at for airport.

“Bureau de change desks at many airports remain closed as a result of the pandemic, meaning those who wait until they’re at the airport to get their travel money are left in the lurch, often having no choice but to use credit or debit cards on holiday instead,” said Strafford-Taylor.

“Unfortunately, paying by credit or debit card overseas can open you up to a number of spending traps that can easily leave you out of pocket – especially if you haven’t planned to use your card abroad.

“The likes of overseas transaction fees, dynamic currency conversion (DCC) and fees for using an ATM machine while in a foreign country can soon add up.”

Secondly, the rates at airports are well-known for being most unfavourable.

“However, be warned, even when bureau de change desks do open again, they offer notoriously poor rates, leaving holidaymakers out of pocket once again,” explained the expert.

“Our previous investigations have found some airports offering rates as much as 29 percent lower than the market rate which is a lot of money to lose out on just for leaving it to the last minute.”

Cash has attracted negative attention amid the coronavirus crisis for concerns over how dirty it might be.

According to a 2017 study conducted in New York City, researchers found microorganisms living on the surface of cash, ranging from mouth and vaginal bacteria to flu-like viruses, reported CNN.

What’s more, research by foreign currency provider Spendology in June showed that people ranked cash number three in terms of exposure to bacteria and viruses after door handles and public transport.

Strafford-Taylor advised making sure you wash your hands thoroughly after handling cash if you’re worried.

“There may also be some hesitation amongst holidaymakers when it comes to handling cash, with fears that it may spread germs or be contaminated,” he said.

“The safest thing to do, whether you’re using cash abroad or in the UK, is to make sure you wash your hands thoroughly after handling coins or notes and to avoid touching your face.”

The main message, Strafford-Taylor, is to be organised when buying holiday money.

“Whether you’re paying by paper or by plastic, the best thing you can do is to plan ahead,” he said.

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