Holidays: Travel expert says Brits can still book summer breaks
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The exchange rate has fared rather favourable for the pound in recent weeks, with it teetering on the edge of the 1.17 against the euro throughout most of March. Meanwhile, a fall in the Turkish lira also saw some beneficial gains for the pound.
Despite this, one travel money expert has warned Britons shouldn’t be too eager to exchange their currency.
Following Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s “roadmap” out of lockdown announcement many holiday providers, including easyJet and Skyscanner, have reported an uptick in bookings.
Holidaymakers were further encouraged by nations including Greece, Spain and Turkey, which have all suggested tourists could be welcomed back in time for summer, though there will be some rules to follow.
“We’ve seen a massive spike in online searches for travel money deals in reaction to the news. In the last month, there’s been a 68 percent increase in traffic to the money.co.uk travel deals page, as Brits prepare for their first post lockdown holiday,” James Andrews, senior personal finance editor at Money.co.uk told Express.co.uk.
“With announcements that more countries are opening their borders, it is clear that potential holidaymakers have their sights set on Europe.
“Searches for Turkish lira and euro deals are by far the most popular, up 308 percent and 79 percent respectively in the last four weeks.”
For many, the favourable exchange rates of recent weeks could have seemed like a good opportunity to swap travel money now.
However, according to Mr Andrews, this is not necessarily as beneficial as one might think.
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“Although countries have said they will be opening their doors to UK visitors, consumers must be cautious before exchanging money at this stage,” he warned.
“International travel is currently prohibited by law until May 17 earliest.
“Until the Government has confirmed that you will be allowed to travel, consider if you need to exchange travel money right away.”
Instead, the travel expert recommends holidaymakers wait until travel has been confirmed.
“When the time to travel does arise, it is always important to research the currency you need and ensure you buy in advance,” said Mr Andrews.
“Depending on restrictions at the time, you will usually get the best deals by either ordering online or going to a travel money provider.
“If you have enough time in advance, consider taking out a travel money card that lets you withdraw cash overseas fee-free.
“The right card or account will mean you pay no commission for use overseas and get excellent rates too, but you do need to allow time for it to arrive.”
Mr Andrews points out it isn’t just the exchange rate alone that determines how much bang you get for your buck.
“To get the most for your money, make sure you don’t just focus on the exchange rate alone, you need to look at the entire package,” he explained.
“The deal with the best exchange rate isn’t necessarily the cheapest for you – there could be hidden costs like commission or delivery charges that push your actual spend above other deals with a lower exchange rate.
“When you’re deciding which deal to select, make sure you factor these additional costs into your calculations.”
He continued: “If you’re not in a position to buy in advance, or if you’re unsure as to how much cash you need, it might be an idea to get a travel money card.
“That way, you can make cash withdrawals abroad as and when you need them with no hidden fees.”
Though buying currency in advance is recommended, it turns out there are some ways Britons can be sure not to lose out even when jetting off on a last-minute holiday.
“No matter how last minute your plans are, never be tempted to buy currency at the airport – the prices are notoriously harsh – and never be tempted to withdraw on a credit card abroad,” said Mr Andrews.
“Foreign exchange transactions can be treated as a cash withdrawal by your credit card company, so you’ll incur a cash advance fee and daily interest charges on your currency on top of foreign usage charges.
“If you have left it to the last minute, you might be able to order your travel money online as late as the night before and pick it up at the airport before you fly out.
“That should get you a far better rate than a walk-up customer and still see you have the currency in your hands before you land.
“Just make sure you double-check the opening times and which terminal the branch is in before you order.”
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