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If you’re planning a trip soon, you’ll want to get the most bang for your buck when it comes to your travel money. Every year, millions of travellers are ripped off by the companies they least expect to give them a bad deal on their foreign exchange. These include banks, hotel desks and airport bureau de change. Just a few weeks ago, some airports were offering just €0.88 for £1!

The good news is that you can avoid poor currency exchange decisions by doing a little research before you travel. By getting the best deal on your travel money you could have extra cash for meals, sightseeing and shopping and that research could only take you a few moments.

Here we’ll take a look at some of the steps you can take to make your money work harder abroad.

1.  The Great 0% Commission Myth

You’ve probably seen, and no doubt used, foreign exchange companies offering 0% commission deals. They give you access to their services without charging you an extortionate fee.  But what they don’t tell you is that they make their profits through the exchange rate they offer you.

That is why it is so important to price compare exchange rates so that you can be sure of getting a good deal.  Don’t go for the first exchange rate offer you come across. Shop around to find a better deal. When buying euros, mystery shop data from shows you can save up to 10% by buying currency online.

2.  Why Exchanging At The Airport Could Cost You

How many times have you exchanged your foreign currency at the airport before you travel?  It’s such a convenient service and it’s 0% commission free!  But likely these services don’t represent the best deal. What’s more, these companies know they have a captive audience and that any of their customers want quick access to foreign exchange services. This means they can get away with offering comparatively poor deals to other exchange outlets.

If you can, try to change up your foreign currency before you travel and give yourself peace of mind that you got a good deal.

3.  Exchanging Foreign Currency At Your Bank

You’d think that your bank – the bank you have been with for decades – would give you a great deal on foreign currency exchange. But often they won’t. Banks only offer limited information when advertising exchange rates and don’t give live exchange rate data to their customers.

During the day these exchange rates can fluctuate madly, but the banks will only give you access to the rate that was released that morning.  That rate may have changed dramatically in your favour by the afternoon, but you won’t have access to it through your bank.

Instead, use a foreign exchange service that has access to live exchange rate data.  That way you can be sure you are getting a good deal.

4.  Take Care When Using Credit Or Debit Cards Abroad

Using a credit or debit card abroad can be fraught with problems. For example, many ATMS will charge you for the privilege of using them and you also need to locate an ATM in the first place – tricky if you are in a less populated region of the world.

Some challenger banks offer free cash withdrawals worldwide with some of the best exchange rates you’ll find, so it’s could be a good idea to look into applying for one of these cards.

Finally, if shopping abroad, never let your card leave your sight. Card cloning is rife in many countries and you’d hate to come back to a huge statement when you get back.

5.  Compare The Markets Before You Travel

Just as you would compare items you want to purchase online, it makes sense to compare the cost of exchanging foreign currency before you travel. Exchange rate comparison sites allow you to view exchange rates side by side from a range of different foreign exchange companies. This is a great way to see how the markets are doing and to choose the best company based on their rate and user reviews.


This article has been adapted from one by Aviva Tabachnik, a foreign currency expert at MyTravelMoney who are an OPP award-winning currency comparison website. You can follow Aviva on twitter