Jargon buster

Travel money jargon buster

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When considering your travel money options, you're bound to come across an array of jargon, which can be baffling and confusing and prevent you from making the right choice.

UK passport next to pounds and euros

Need travel money? 

So, to help you make an informed decision, we've compiled this glossary to help you break through the currency jargon.


This is a cash machine, to you and me. It stands for Automated Teller Machine and it’s where you check your balance or withdraw cash using a debit, credit or prepaid card.

ATM/Cash withdrawal charges

This is the amount you’ll be charged when you use a debit, credit or prepaid card at an ATM. This is expressed as a percentage of the amount withdrawn and tends to be higher overseas.

Commission charges

If you’re converting your money into foreign currency, the company carrying out the conversion will charge a fee for its services, called a commission charge. These charges are also often applied to travellers’ cheques.

Credit cards

A card which gives you access to a line of credit, with which you can make purchases and/or withdraw cash. Interest is charged on the card’s balance if it is not paid off within a given period. Each card holder is set a credit limit, restricting how much they are able to spend on the card. There are additional fees which vary from one card to the next.

Currency converter

A tool which will estimate how much foreign currency you’ll get for your Pounds Sterling, based on the current exchange rates.

Currency exchange

See: Foreign exchange.

Dynamic currency conversion

When you use a credit or debit card abroad, some retailers will offer to convert your bill into Pounds Sterling, allowing you to better understand the cost. This is known as dynamic currency conversion.

The retailer will likely apply a higher exchange rate for this convenience - and as they don’t always ask, be sure to check before signing your bill or entering your PIN. If you don’t want to pay for dynamic currency conversion, ask the retailer to charge you in the local currency.

Exchange rate

How much your Sterling is worth in relation to another country’s currency, e.g. how many US dollars you’ll get for your pound.

Exchange rate calculator

See: Currency converter.

Foreign exchange

Buying another country’s currency using your own country’s currency.

Handling fees

The fee charged by the seller to carry out the exchange into foreign currency.

Holiday money

See: Travel money.

International exchange rate

See: Exchange rate.

Loading fees

The fee often charged when a card makes a conversion to foreign currency – usually around 2.75%.

Prepaid cards

Prepaid travel cards are similar to high street gift cards – you choose an amount to put on them and pay in advance. You then spend on the card until that pre-loaded amount runs out. As there is no line of credit and you can only spend what’s on the card, you cannot run into debt on a prepaid card.

Spending charges

A fee levied for using a card overseas to make a purchase.


The currency of the United Kingdom. (Pounds and pence)

Travellers’ cheques

Now declining in use, travellers’ cheques are pre-printed, fixed-amount cheques which are safer than carrying cash as they can be replaced by the issuer if lost or stolen. When paying with a travellers’ cheque you’ll be asked to sign for the purchase and you’ll receive change in cash.

Travel money

The money you take overseas, whether that’s foreign currency, travellers’ cheques or a credit, debit or prepaid card.

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