Travellers can now go online to ‘click and collect’ their holiday money at a fixed rate if they are worried about Brexit.
Money Mail analysis shows that by using the internet, you can find better currency deals than in the High Street or at the airport.
Some firms are even offering you the chance to reserve your cash at today’s prices — and cancel it later if the rate improves.
Holiday cash: By using the internet, you can find better currency deals than in the High Street or at the airport
It comes as the Post Office, the UK’s largest foreign exchange provider, says it saw a ‘surge’ in euro transactions in the first half of the month. This includes a 114 per cent rise in online purchases compared with early March last year.
Experts say travellers heading to Europe over the Easter holidays should keep a keen eye on the currency market and consider buying sooner rather than later to snap up foreign cash at a decent price.
The pound has hovered around the same level for the past two years, but impending Brexit means it could rise or fall drastically in the coming weeks.
Emma Coulthurst, of Travelsupermarket, advises you should start looking around a month before you intend to travel.
‘If the rate is steadily going down, you may want to act now and buy,’ she says. ‘If it’s steadily rising, you might want to wait to see how high it will go.’
Adrian Lowcock, head of personal investing at Willis Owen, says it’s ‘notoriously difficult’ to predict currency movements, and even harder with the uncertainty of Brexit.
So if you already have the funds, it may be better to bite the bullet and buy it now while you know what you will get.
Paul Brewer, chief executive of the Currency Online Group, says that some Britons were already ‘panic buying’ to take advantage of the current rates.
Experts say travellers heading to Europe over the Easter holidays should keep a keen eye on the currency market and consider buying sooner rather than later
‘We’ve seen a surge in Brits buying euros — especially more recently when the exchange rate is the best it has been in over a year,’ he says.
Some currency firms, including Travelex and Sainsbury’s, will — should the pound soar before you go — allow you to cancel your order and buy the money again at a better rate.
Or you could leave the market monitoring to the experts. Firms such as FairFx and Transferwise, for example, will send you a daily alert or notify you when the exchange rate rises or drops to a certain level.
But it is not just when you buy your currency that matters: where and how are also key. Most of us know it is a bad idea to buy your currency at the airport, but the difference can be as much as 20 per cent, according to Money Mail analysis.
At Heathrow on Monday evening, you could get €0.97 for each £1 with Travelex — that’s €970 for £1,000.
At St Pancras International, from where the Eurostar departs, currency firm ICE was offering €0.95 for £1 on Monday, so £1,000 would buy you €950. Yet the official exchange rate according to currency authority XE was €1.17 to £1 — €1,170 for £1,000.
Money Mail analysis shows that online currency rates are often far better than any on the High Street.
Buying currency at an airport compared to a high street shop can be as much as 20% more
On Monday, £1,000 would have got you €1,150 with Currency Online Group, which will deliver the cash to your door free-of-charge, according to TravelMoneyMax.com. Even popular High Street chains offer online customers better rates.
Had you popped into Debenhams on Monday, £1,000 would have got you €1,120. However, if you had ordered your currency from the store online you could have got €1,140 delivered for free. M&S offered shoppers €1,130 in branch or €1,140 if you ordered online for collection.
At a Post Office branch on Monday, you would have got a rate of €1.11 to £1 when ordering £1,000 or more — or £1,110. Online you would have got €1,140 for £1,000.
Sainsbury’s Bank was last night offering Nectar card holders 1.144 online and 1.118 at a travel money bureau. The bank also lets shoppers order and pay for currency at today’s rate for collection and cancel it later if they desire. They will get a refund — minus a £10 charge.
Lloyds Bank was offering £1 for €1.114 both online and in branch.
You could also consider applying for a cheap credit card for spending abroad. Although you will still be affected by changes in currency rates, the blow will be softened because you won’t also be hit by high fees and you will get a truer rate of exchange.
You will get the rate on the day, though, so it is a gamble if the pound falls before you leave — or while you’re away.
A popular deal is the Halifax Clarity Card. There are no fees for spending abroad and you can make free cash withdrawals (though you will pay interest on these until you clear your balance).
Most major banks charge fees of around 3 per cent when you use your card or withdraw cash overseas. However, with the Barclaycard Platinum Cashback Plus credit card, you will also earn 0.25 per cent cashback on all purchases until August 2023.
If you’d rather stick to a debit card, Metro Bank’s current account does not charge any additional fees for spending in Europe.
Xe.com offers a live update which you can use to see the value of the pound against other currencies. The rate on XE is the one used by banks and currency traders. Although you won’t get this rate, you should aim to get an exchange as close to it as possible.
Laith Khalaf, senior analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, suggests exchanging some money now and some later. He says: ‘You’ll get some certainty but could still benefit down the line if things go well.’
THIS IS MONEY’S FIVE OF THE BEST HOLIDAY MONEY DEALS