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14 Feb 2020

Revealed: the currencies that will give you the most holiday money for your pounds

You'll get £80 more Turkish lira for £500 than you would have last year

The value of the pound has grown stronger against 80% of the top 40 holiday currencies, including the euro and US dollar, according to a new Post Office Travel Money report.

So if you're looking to save money on your next trip, it's worth checking out the destinations that use the weaker currencies and cash in.

Here, we take a look at where you'll get the most for your money and other ways to ensure you get the best-value currency for your next holiday.

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How much currency will £500 get you?

The map below shows how much more (or less) £500 will buy you this year compared with last year in countries that use the 40 most popular holiday currencies.

Keep in mind that the Post Office worked this out using their own currency exchange rates, which aren't necessarily the best rate you can get.

It's also worth noting that exchange rates change frequently, so you'll need to check again before you travel.

Where has the pound grown the most?

Those thinking of taking a trip to Chile will find their pounds buying far more pesos than they would have last year.

UK currency is now 22% stronger against the Chilean peso compared with February 2019.

Turkish lira is also far more affordable for British buyers, with the pound being 19% stronger against it than a year ago.

At the other end of the scale, sterling is almost 10% weaker against the Egyptian pound than it was last February, meaning holidaymakers in Sharm El Sheikh will get £55 less for £500.

Thankfully, most of Which? Travel's top-value package holiday hotspots for 2020 use the euro - which the pound has grown 9% against.

And one of our choice destinations, Sunny Beach, Bulgaria, uses the Bulgarian lev - which sterling is also strong against.

The table below has sterling's growth (or lack of) against the 40 most popular holiday currencies.

How to find the best travel money deals

With so many different ways to spend abroad, it can sometimes be difficult to know if you're getting the best deal.

If you're not careful, spending in other currencies could be a much larger holiday expense than you intended.

Here are some general tips to follow to keep currency costs down.

1. Pay in the local currency

When spending on a card or using an ATM abroad, you'll often be presented with the choice of paying in pounds or paying in local currency.

Thanks to something called dynamic currency conversion (DCC), banks and businesses can convert your sterling at a rate of their choice.

This rate will be much worse than the one your card provider offers in almost every case, especially if you have a travel credit or debit card.

2. Watch out for credit card fees

There are three different kinds of fees that could hit you when you use a normal credit card abroad.

  • Interest on cash withdrawals - the moment you take cash out of an ATM, you'll be charged interest.
  • Non-sterling cash fees - this is a fee of around 3% for withdrawing money from an ATM
  • Non-sterling transaction fees - a fee charged as a percentage of a transaction, typically up to 2.99%.

You can avoid these fees by using a specialist travel credit card. Many of these don't have these fees at all.

Our guide to the best travel credit cards will help you keep these costs to a minimum.

3. Find a fee-free debit card

Like credit cards, debit cards can charge fees when you use them on holiday.

There are some banks which offer debit cards with fee-free spending.

Which? Recommended Provider Starling Bank has a debit card which is completely fee-free to use abroad.

Fellow challenger bank Monzo offers fee-free transactions and free cash withdrawals in the European Economic Area (EEA). For other countries, there is a £200-a-month cap on free cash withdrawals.

Find out more:best debit cards to use abroad

4. Consider a prepaid travel card

Prepaid cards let you load currencies in advance to spend while you're away.

With some, you can lock in an exchange rate on the day you buy it. This allows you to take advantage of a strong pound or a weak euro, for example, even if the exchange rate changes before you travel.

Our guide to prepaid travel cards will give you a closer look at whether they might be for you.

5. Avoid buying currency at the airport

You'll rarely get the most for your money at an airport bureau de change.

If you want to buy cash before you travel, you might be better off on the high street or online.

See our guide to buying travel money on the high street for more top tips.