How to Compare Holiday Money and Get the Best Exchange Rates

Looking to get the best exchange rate for your holiday money? You’re in luck! There is a lot of out-of-date information on the web; by contrast, in this article, we will give you a few golden pieces of advice to compare holiday money and get the most bang for your buck in 2022 and some further tips to help you save even more money whilst on your travels.

Searching for the best foreign currency exchange rate is best done online these days

How can I get the best holiday money exchange rate?

There are a few things you can do to get the best exchange rate on your holiday money. First, make sure to shop around. There are a lot of different places that offer foreign currency exchange, and each one has their own rates. It’s important to compare rates from multiple sources before you make a decision. Fortunately, using a travel money comparison site like can save hours of searching and makes the whole process more straightforward.

Second, don’t wait until the last minute to exchange your currency. This is one of the biggest mistakes people make, and it can end up costing you a lot of money. Exchange rates can fluctuate daily, sometimes even hourly, so it’s important to monitor them closely and act when the rate is in your favor. The sooner you exchange your currency, the better.

Third, use a travel money card. A travel money card is a prepaid debit card that you can load with foreign currency before you leave on your trip. This is a great way to lock in a good exchange rate and avoid paying ATM fees while you’re abroad. Plus, most cards come with additional features like travel insurance and purchase protection, which can give you peace of mind while you’re away from home.

Compare travel money from top providers

Now that you know how to get the best exchange rate, it’s time to compare travel money from some of the top providers. Here are a few of our favourites:

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Do you get better exchange rates buying currency online?

Most online providers offer better rates than traditional brick-and-mortar banks and currency exchange offices, so you can save a lot of money by doing your research and shopping around. This is because online providers have lower overhead costs and can pass the savings on to their customers in the form of better rates. Just like everything else these days, to order currency online is to take advantage of the cost savings of the internet; competition is fierce in the online space, so providers are always looking for ways to stand out from the crowd and offer competitive rates. Plus, it’s convenient and easy to do from the comfort of your own home.

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In some situations it still makes sense to take cash on holiday

How does foreign currency commission work?

When you exchange currency, you will usually be charged a commission fee. This is a small fee that is charged by the provider in order to cover their costs. Commission fees can vary depending on the provider, so it’s important to shop around and compare rates before you make a decision. However, it is more complicated than this since often exchange rates advertised as “commission free” are in fact nothing of the sort. This is a widespread deception practised by banks and foreign exchange bureaus which continues to fool unwitting customers even in 2022, indeed some might even label it a scam! The way the scam works is to pad out the rate which banks pay, called the inter-bank exchange rate, where banks can change currencies back and forth all day long with almost zero costs. By adding a few percentage to the inter-bank rates the banks pass on the charges to unwitting consumers.

How can I avoid hidden foreign currency exchange commission charges?

A top tip is to look at the difference between the price a currency you want to buy is offered for sale, and the rate at which the foreign exchange provider is willing to pay to buy back the currency. If the difference is more than 1% you could probably save money by buying foreign currency online, either getting cash delivered or using a specialist credit or debit card.

What’s the best way to carry money abroad?

There are a few different options when it comes to carrying money abroad. You can use cash, travellers cheques (although nobody actually uses these in the 21st century), or a card (either a travel money card or a card from an online bank or “challenger bank” with special low-commission rates). Each option has its own advantages and disadvantages, so it’s important to choose the one that best suits your needs.

If you’re looking for convenience, a travel money card is a great option. You can load it with foreign currency before you leave, and then use it to withdraw cash or make purchases while you’re on your trip. Plus, most cards come with additional features like travel insurance and purchase protection, which can give you peace of mind while you’re away from home. Cards from challenger banks or electronic money institutions like Revolut offer many of these advantages but can be linked to a bank account so there is no need to load them each time, plus the exchange rates tend to be even better.

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If you have foreign currency, the world is your oyster!

In some countries, cash is still king and you may be offered discounts to pay in cash. In 2022 countries with very high inflation rates such as Turkey and Argentina are particularly noteworthy examples of countries where paying in cash is preferred by local businesses.

Can you get commission-free travel currency?

As mentioned above, “commission-free” travel currency is sometimes anything but! Look out for hidden commission in the exchange rate. A good rule of thumb is that if the difference between the “buy” rate and the “sell” rate is more than about 0.75%, you’re probably not getting a great deal.

If you want to avoid commission fees altogether, your best bet is to use an online foreign exchange provider like Wise (previously TransferWise). With Wise, you always get close to the real exchange rate – the same one you see on Google – with no hidden fees. Plus, it’s quick and easy to set up an account and transfer money abroad.

How to get the best travel money deals?

The best way to get the best travel money deals is to compare rates and fees from a few different providers before you make a decision. Make sure you understand what fees you’ll be charged, and look for hidden commission in the exchange rate. If you’re looking for convenience, a travel money card is a great option. And if you want to avoid commission fees altogether, your best bet is to use an online foreign exchange provider like Wise.

Card processing fees on purchases abroad

Card processing fees can be high when paying in foreign currency. It is good practice to check with your card issuer about any fees that might apply before you travel. You might be able to avoid these fees by using a “non-sterling” or “foreign currency” fee-free credit card, which doesn’t charge for transactions made in foreign currencies.

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Revolut provide a good card option for spending foreign currency

Some debit cards also offer this feature, but it’s important to check the terms and conditions before you use them abroad as they may not offer the same protection against fraud as credit cards.

As a rule, if offered to pay for card transactions in your home currency or in the local currency always choose the local currency! Although it may seem convenient to pay in pounds the currency exchange rate offered are typically terrible, as much as 6% above the true rate.

Are there restrictions on getting currency delivered to your home?

There are some restrictions on the amount of currency that can be delivered to your home as when ordering large amounts of a few thousand pounds’ worth, you may be asked some anti-money laundering questions about the source of the funds. Other than that, getting travel money delivered is a great option for those looking to get a good exchange rate when taking cash abroad.

When is the best time to buy travel money?

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Timing exchanging money can be tricky

The best time to buy travel money is usually when the pound is strong against the currency you need. You can check the exchange rate using a tool like Google’s Currency rate (built into Google) or

Can you get next day delivery for currency?

Yes, you can get next-day delivery for currency from some providers. This is a great option if you need to travel on short notice and don’t have time to visit a bank or currency exchange office. Just be aware that there may be additional fees for this service, so it’s always best to compare rates before you make a decision.

Deciding how much holiday money to take

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Money can be sent and delivered by good old Royal Mail

How much money to take on holiday obviously depends on your spending patterns, and your tolerance for the risk of carrying large amounts of cash.

Some people like to take a mix of cash and cards, so they have the flexibility to pay for things in either currency. Others prefer to use their debit or credit card for everything, so they can avoid carrying large amounts of cash.

Whatever your preference, it’s always a good idea to have some local currency on hand in case of an emergency.

You should also keep in mind that ATMs may empty out and not be refilled on weekends and public holidays in some countries, so it’s always best to plan ahead and withdraw foreign currency you’ll need during working week days.

Assuming you’ll be using a mix of cash and cards on your holiday, a good rule of thumb is to take enough cash to cover any unexpected expenses (like taxi fares or meals) and use your card for everything else.

If you’re worried about losing your card or having it stolen, you can also get travel insurance that will cover the cost of replacement cards and emergency cash withdrawals.

Buy-back guarantee

Beware the “buy-back guarantee” offered by many banks and the Post Office on leftover currency when you return from your travels. Although this can seem like a good deal on the face of it as it might be marketed as “commission free” in fact you will probably lose a few percent of the value of your cash due to the unfavourable foreign exchange rate offered by these high street providers. There are exceptions though. For amounts over a few hundred pounds an online buy back specialist would be by far the best option for the best exchange rate. This service involves sending the money by Royal Mail’s Special Delivery service (insured) and then waiting a day for the pounds sterling to be transferred to your bank account. The exchange rate offered by these online / postal providers is typically much better than you will get even if you were to go back to the bank, bureau de change or Post Office which offered you the buy-back guarantee in the first place.

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In many developing countries, and countries with high inflation, cash is still king
Sara Bramley
Sara is a London-based writer specializing in personal finance, with a particular focus on international money transfer services. Her insightful articles demystify cross-border transactions and empower readers to make informed financial decisions. Known for her clear and approachable writing style, she blends practical advice with comprehensive analysis. Sara's work helps individuals and businesses navigate the complex world of international finance, ensuring secure, cost-effective money management in an increasingly interconnected global economy.
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