If you’ve planned to jet off to a foreign country then you want to be able to pay for things when you get there. Whether it’s transport, food, accommodation or souvenirs, having the correct currency on you can help you to get the most out of your trip – with the least amount of stress and worry.
The first thing you should do when it comes to working out your payment options is find out what the local currency at your destination is. Whether it’s euros, dollars, pesos or baht, make sure you know what you need before you start. Once you’ve discovered what type of currency you need, the next step is to work out how you’re going to spend it when you get there.
Unfortunately, if you don’t know what to look out for, spending money abroad can end up costing you a small fortune through added fees, so doing some research beforehand is a surefire way to stop you encountering tons of unexpected charges during your trip. After all, no one wants to come home to a nasty bank bill waiting on the mat, do they?
To help make sure your spending spree abroad is as stress free as possible, we’ve rounded up some of the best ways to pay abroad.
According to The Money Advice Service, cards can be the cheapest way of paying for things abroad, but this all depends on the card you’re using. Choosing to pay with certain credit or debit cards can cause you to encounter nasty overseas fees, so it’s important to make sure that you use a card that’s travel friendly. It’s also a good idea to make sure that you let your bank know you will be travelling if necessary, to avoid your card being blocked if they suspect suspicious activity.
If you use your debit or credit card you may be charged a foreign usage fee, which is where the money is converted from the local currency using the day’s exchange rate. Another additional cost you may incur is cash withdrawal fees, which most debit cards charge if you withdraw cash in a foreign country. This is usually around 3% of what you take out, with a minimum fee of around £2. Some credit cards may charge you interest for overseas purchases, even if you pay off the bill before the end of the month. It’s best to avoid withdrawing cash using a credit card as you will be charged interest straight away – with the other fees already mentioned usually being added as well.
Changing your money up into the currency of the country you’re visiting is one of the simplest ways of paying abroad. This is partly because you can have everything sorted before you depart the UK. Cash can be used in almost all places, from shops, markets and restaurants to attractions, and you don’t have to worry about incurring usage fees when you spend.
However, there are a couple of things to be aware of if cash is your payment method of choice when you travel. Make sure you hunt out the best exchange rates before your trip so that you get a good deal, and avoid swapping currency at the airport or abroad – the rates are usually not very good. Sometimes if you get given a number of high value notes when you collect your currency these can be difficult to spend in smaller stores or markets, so ask for some smaller notes if possible to help make life easier at your destination. The final thing to remember with cash is to make sure that you keep it safe – it’s easy to lose cash, or have it stolen, so make sure you don’t keep it all together and store it in a safe place when possible.
Prepaid travel cards
Prepaid travel cards are a popular choice with those looking to spend money abroad. These work in a similar way to credit cards, but you have to top them up with money before you use them. You can get dedicated travel prepaid cards loaded with a foreign currency for when you travel; this means that you are only charged a single exchange rate when you top up the card, rather than this happening at every transaction.
These prepaid cards can be used throughout the world, and are a good way of helping you to budget for your trip – you can choose to only top up how much you want to spend, with no option to spend money you don’t have and pay it back later as you do with credit cards. One thing to be aware of with the cards is that sometimes you might come across charges when you load the card, and some of them have usage fees – such as card fees and card transaction fees. Do some research beforehand to make sure that you’re getting the best deal possible.
With a little bit of research your holiday cash problems will be easily prevented, leaving you more time to hit the beach and buy a souvenir or two. Well, it’s not a holiday if you don’t bring back a souvenir, is it?