‘No commission‘ currency exchange signs are frequently seen in UK High Streets, but this of course is very misleading.
Recently at a local post office with a ‘no commission’ sign, you could buy €1.16 for £1, and sell €1.44 for £1. Since the € to £ mid-rate that day was 1.27, that would appear to me to be a commission when buying and selling Euros of about 10%. So, if you bought £100 of Euros, but didn’t spend any and then changed them back, you would get about £80. So that’s ‘no commission’!
My tips for travel money
- Purchases – Use your credit card as much as possible for purchases, whether in hotels, restaurants, shops or for travel costs. But it’s very important that you use a credit card that does not charge you for overseas transactions. For example, the Halifax Clarity Mastercard which converts currency world-wide at the mid-rate and no extra charges.
- Cash before you travel – Better rates are obtainable online than at High Street outlets or at airport departure lounges. See Avoid Airport Currency Exchange for some survey results. However, when buying online, bear in mind that the best rates often require a minimum of £500 and you need to wait a day for delivery. Also, a disadvantage I find of obtaining foreign currency before you travel is that, as a Senior, I feel quite vulnerable carrying large amounts of cash around.
- Cash when abroad – You often can save money by taking pounds sterling with you and changing them at a bank or exchange dealer in the country visited. In many countries, including Austria, Germany, Holland and Hungary for example, I have obtained far better rates than in the UK. However, this could mean carrying lots of sterling around. Hence, again it can make sense to use a credit card which gives a mid-rate conversion such as the Halifax Clarity Mastercard. You will pay interest on the money obtained, as would be the case with similar money purchase on a credit card in the UK, but there are no other charges.
- Important: If you intend to use a credit card abroad, let the company know when and where you will be travelling, otherwise your funds may suddenly dry up! Also, keep a note of your credit card number just in case it gets lost.
Other credit cards to consider which do not charge for overseas purchases are the Sainsbury’s Gold Mastercard (with an annual charge) and the Aqua Reward Mastercard and Saga Platinum Visa Card for over 50s (both of which have cash withdrawal fees).
By the way, when I want to check current mid-rates I use Travlang.