Your travel questions answered: Travel money

In the second of our series answering your travel questions, Bob Atkinson focuses on replying to some of your travel money queries...


My wife and I are going to Australia for six weeks. I usually take travellers’ cheques but always come back with some and always seem to get a poor rate when I change them back. Should I still use this method? (Geoff)

Bob Atkinson: Geoff, travellers’ cheques are so last year! In fact they look even more out of date than my haircut, so do not use travellers’ cheques really anymore unless you absolutely have to. What you need to do is get hold of a combination of cash, prepaid cards and a credit card designed for overseas usage.

You can get the best cash deals online - order online for either home delivery or for collection at, say, a London address, or if they’ve got an outlet in one of your local cities you can go there.

Secondly, prepaid cards are a way of putting cash onto a card so you don’t have to carry the cash around and have the insurance implications. Get them online – the best option for Australia will be to get one in Australian Dollars, and if you run short while you’re away on your card, you can top it up online. Access the money on it either by going to an ATM and taking it out, or by using it in shops to pay for goods.

And finally, take a credit card. A credit card that is designed for overseas usage does not have fees and charges on it, and you’ll get the very best exchange rates, so you really can’t go wrong.

And if you get that combination together you’re not going to be left with travellers’ cheques at the end that you have to convert back and lose money on. So not only are you getting better rates of exchange overall, but then you’re not losing out when you come back as well.  I hope that helps you.

We are going to Florida in July. Is it worthwhile waiting to pre-load our currency card, because of the low exchange rate, and also purchase some US Dollars to take as ready cash? (Brian)

BA: Well first off it’s great that you’re embracing prepaid cards – it’s a way of getting access to cash overseas without having the cash lying around, which has insurance implications.

The rate isn’t terrific at the moment, it’s around 1.55 to 1.60 dollars mark (correct at time of filming), however having said that it’s been around that level for quite a while, and experts don’t expect it to increase dramatically in the next few weeks. So if you’ve got spare cash, lock the rate in now, and you can add more on later should you need to do so.

If you need to get hold of some cash to get you going, the best rates are available online, so order online either for home delivery or collect at a central London address to get those very, very best rates. Avoid your normal high street and banks where you’re not getting a good deal.

I’m going to Russia and wonder what is the best currency to take? The package is already paid for, but I will have some incidental expenses - advice please. (Pamela)

BA: Whenever you travel away on a trip where pretty much everything is paid for, you only require small amounts of money with you, so the last thing you want to be doing is exchanging loads of money and then finding you’ve only got to exchange it all back.

Now for Russia, the best thing to do would be take your cash in Sterling. Just change the amounts you need to change until you have a clearer idea of how much you’re going to spend. And, of course, for anything where you could use a card, the best rate of exchange you’ll get will be on either a debit card or a credit card which is designed for overseas usage.

You can get these easily online and those cards not only have no charges but you get the very best rate of exchange and, of course, you’re only spending what you need to spend and settling on the bill at the end.

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