Six golden rules of holiday moneySave money overseas with our travel money tips

16 May 2011

Six key holiday money tips

Getting the best deal for your holiday money can save you cash and hassle

Going on holiday can be expensive enough, without having to worry about how loading fees and exchange rates could hit your spending power. Here, Which? Money experts highlight the six golden rules of holiday money, to help you make the most of your cash this summer.

1.Use the best credit and debit cards overseas

For the vast majority of us, using plastic overseas is the easiest option - but given the banks’ growing tendency to levy high charges for using your card overseas, it’s vital to make sure you've got the right plastic in your pocket. 

You can find a full guide to the best credit and debit cards to use abroad on our website. Also, remember to notify your card provider of your travel plans before jetting off: if you don't it might assume your card is being used fraudulently and stop any transactions you try to make.  

2. Combine different types of travel money

Despite the temptation to rely on plastic alone, it can be prudent to take a mix of cash and cards on holiday with you. If your card is lost or stolen, the process of notifying your card provider and getting a replacement can be time-consuming, so make sure to take some cash just in case. 

3. Pay in cash for foreign currency

Taking some foreign currency is a good idea, but what's the best way to get it? 

Always buy foreign currency in cash if you can, as many card providers add a fee if you pay on plastic. We've got a full guide to buying travel money on the high street on our website. However, if you're buying a large amount of foreign currency, your best bet is usually to buy online to get the best rates. 

4. Prepaid options for paying abroad

The difference between prepaid cards and debit/credit cards is that prepaid card providers tend to set their own exchange rate, rather than using the MasterCard or Visa rate. 

Caxton FX’s cards, Escape Travel Money and Travelex’s Cash Passport card carry no fees for loading the card or for taking out cash from ATMs abroad. Exchange rates can vary, but this is still much cheaper than withdrawing cash. 

5. Pay in the local currency where possible

If you're paying by card abroad, always try to pay for goods and services in the local currency rather than sterling. This can make a significant difference to how much your transaction costs overall, as you will often get a better exchange rate. 

6. Finding a cash machine on holiday

If you’re planning a holiday somewhere off the beaten track, it may be worth checking with your card issuer to see where the nearest cash machines are before you go. 

It’s also worth noting that in some countries cash machines will be specific to a type of card, such as Visa or MasterCard.You can search online for cash machines near to your destination by following these links. American Express, MasterCard (click on ‘Personal’ to find the ‘ATM Locator’) and Visa

pound coins

Which? Money when you need it

You can follow @WhichMoney on Twitter to keep up-to-date with our Best Rates and Recommended Provider product and service reviews.

Sign up for the latest money news, best rates and recommended providers in your newsletter every Friday.

Or for money-saving tips, and news of how what's going on in the world of finance affects you, join Melanie Dowding and James Daley for the Which? Money weekly money podcast

For daily consumer news, subscribe to the Which? news RSS feed here. And to find out how we work for you on money issues, visit our personal finance campaigns pages.