Holidaymakers could save up to £122 by opting for an overseas spending card or credit card instead of buying currency at the airport.
Which? has found that cards including the Halifax Clarity credit card, Metro Bank credit and debit cards, and prepaid cards such as Revolut, provide the best value for those travelling within Europe.
Thanks to their low fees and good exchange rates, spending €1,000 would cost you just £787 with any of these providers, according to April 2016 Which? research. If you got €1,000 currency at the airport, on the other hand, it would cost you a lot more – for example, £909 from ICE at Birmingham airport.
- Discover the nine best cards for overseas spending rates with the Which? Money Compare overseas credit card comparison table
Pre-ordering foreign currency
You can also get around high airport exchange rates by pre-ordering currency online from an airport bureau de change rather than buying it on the spot. When exchanging £500 for euros at the Gatwick branch of Moneycorp, we found you could get an extra €76 if you pre-ordered.
The same advice applies to high-street money exchanges, where ordering online will usually get you a better price. For example, you’ll get €27 extra if you order £500-worth of currency online from John Lewis (which also has pick up points at some Waitrose branches) compared with the walk-in rates at the Post Office or Thomas Cook.
Alex Neill, Which? Director of Policy and Campaigns, said: ‘Our research shows that holidaymakers who plan ahead can make real savings?. Doing a few small things like using an overseas spending card, pre-ordering currency and always paying in the local currency could help you to get more for your money.’
Find out more: travel money – our expert guide to getting a great deal
Tips for using your credit card abroad
Watch out for loading fees
Some credit/debit cards can incur substantial charges when spending overseas. However, cards such as the Halifax Clarity Credit Card, MBNA Everyday Plus and Metro Bank debit and credit cards allow you to spend without fees in Europe.
Avoid using ATMs where possible
If you use a credit card to withdraw cash from an ATM you will often be charged interest, even if you pay off the card in full at the end of the month. For ATM withdrawals, a Revolut card allows you to withdraw up to £500 of currency per month for free.
Pay in local currency
When paying by card abroad, always pay in local currency rather than in pounds sterling as you will typically get a better exchange rate.
Ask for a receipt
Always ask for a receipt so you can ask your credit card company for a ‘chargeback’ if there are any disputed transactions. This means your card provider will refund you the cost of the disputed transaction while it tries to recover the cost from the shop.
- See our guide to the best and worst prepaid cards
- We explain how to find the best credit card for overseas use
- Get answers to your credit card questions by calling the Which? Money Helpline
Which? Limited is an Introducer Appointed Representative of Which? Financial Services Limited, which is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FRN 527029). Which? Mortgage Advisers and Which? Money Compare are trading names of Which? Financial Services Limited.