Travel money: how to get the best deal

A good deal on travel money means getting the best return for your pound sterling. This guide will show you how.

Share this guide
Couple on beach jumping

What is a good deal?

You need to find the best exchange rate with the lowest additional charges, like delivery fees, to get a good deal.

Compare foreign currency deals online and in store to find which company will give you the most travel money in total.

Taking travel money with you is not the only way to spend abroad so make sure you explore all your options before your trip.

What are the costs?

Currency exchange involves a number of different charges such as

Exchange rate

This shows how much foreign currency you can get in exchange for your money.

Travel money providers buy foreign currency at a wholesale price, meaning they can sell the currency to you at a profit. This is why there are so many different exchange rates.

The higher the number you can find, the better the exchange rate — for example...

Commission charge

This is taken by travel money providers to handle the administration of your order.

The charge is normally incorporated into the rate, so although many companies advertise 0% commission they could still be charging you by offering a less competitive exchange rate instead.

Delivery cost

A delivery charge may apply if you buy your travel money online or over the phone. The cost varies. Some companies offer free delivery to your home address while others offer free delivery for collection from a branch or at the airport.

Credit card charges

If you buy foreign currency with your credit card you will be charged:

  • On your credit card — buying foreign currency is treated as a cash withdrawal. This means you will incur a cash advance fee and daily interest charges.

  • By the travel money company — most charge a transaction fee of up to 3% for using your credit card to pay for your currency.

How should you buy travel money?

Ordering travel money online and in store both have different pros and cons:


  • More choice
  • Better rates
  • Broad range of currencies available
  • Need to wait for delivery
  • Delivery charges
  • Could get lost in the post

In store

  • Easily found on high street
  • Collect straight away
  • No delivery charges
  • Less choice
  • Limited stock
  • Takes time to compare

Can you order in advance?

Yes, this is known as preordering and it means:

  • you can avoid delivery charges by picking up the currency in store

  • you will need to leave plenty of time for arrival if you have your currency delivered

Planning in advance gives you time to weigh up the pros and cons of the different travel money options, including online cash orders and travel money cards.

If time is tight read our last minute travel guide to find out what your different options are.

Case study – Gavin's story

"Excellent website for currency exchange: I have used it many times, it is simple to use and very fast and clearly shows the best exchange rates in an instant. I would recommend it to anyone."

Top tips for getting the best deal

  • Focus on the overall cost: do not just look for the highest exchange rate, because you could find a lower rate is better overall if commission and delivery charges are excluded.

  • Do not use your credit card: use your debit card or simply swap your sterling cash into your chosen currency to avoid excessive credit card charges.

  • Avoid cheap tricks: do not be swayed by companies offering 0% commission on travel money as this will apply to almost every travel money company.

  • Prepare in advanceshop around for travel money well before your trip so you can compare deals and make the most of free delivery options which take longer to arrive.

  • Remember your card: if you have a debit card, credit card or prepaid card that does not charge you to spend or withdraw cash abroad, it might pay to wait until you get to your destination and simply withdraw your foreign currency from a cash machine.

Spending abroad can be costly, so make sure you compare the market for the best exchange rates available on your travel money before jetting off.