If you’re away for a Bank Holiday break in Europe, what’s the best euro exchange rate? Find out the best way to pay when you’re abroad.
The best euro exchange rate
If you want to get the best euro exchange rate, you should either use a fee free credit card, take a prepaid card or order your travel money online and collect it (or preferably, a mixture of both). I’ve used Travelmoneymax, and Compareholidaymoney to work out the best buys.
Walk in rates at the airport
Earlier this week some foreign exchange bureau in airports were giving as little as 88 pence per euro. Others were offering between 94 and 97 pence.
Walk in exchange rate: Assuming you wanted to exchange £300 into euros, you’d get as little as £264, assuming the exchange rate was 88 pence. If you managed to get 97 pence per euro, you’d get £291 if you changed £300.
Buying in advance online
You can buy in advance by ordering online and picking up – either at a bureau de change or at the airport, so you don’t even need to get it delivered.
This can be useful if you’re buying at the last minute as you can do this just a few hours in advance. It’s also good if you’re ordering a relatively low amount – say a few hundred pounds – because the delivery charges can make quite a difference to the price you’ll pay.
SAVVY TIP: Some providers, such as the Post Office, have a minimum order if you’re buying online. Theirs is £400, which may be more than you’re planning to take.
The rate you’ll get depends on where you live and where you can get to.
Order online for collection
The best rates I found ordering £300 online for collection were from a London only foreign exchange provider. There you can get over €322 for £300 (Best Foreign Exchange, followed by Thomas Exchange – also London only).
If you live in Nottingham and wanted to collect, the best rate I could find was between €319 and €320. Tesco, Asda, Thomas Cook and Sainsbury’s Bank would all give you over €318 if you exchanged £300.
Ordering online for delivery
Having checked online today, if you change £300 into euros, and you want them delivered, you’ll get €317.15 (from The Currency Club). If you prefer a household name, you can get €314 from Tesco, Asda and Travelex. This includes any delivery costs.
The best bank rate is from HSBC at €310 but this is only for HSBC customers.
SAVVY TIP: It’s worth checking at what point you have to pay for delivery – with some providers, you pay less on orders above £300 – so if you’d ordered £301 you’d a better deal because you would have paid £2 less for delivery.
Paying for your foreign currency
Make sure you pay for your foreign currency with your debit card and not your credit card, because you’ll be paid interest from day one with your credit card even if you pay off your bill in full. There are a few exceptions, such as if you use your M&S Bank credit card to pay.
If you pay by bank transfer, there’s no protection if the foreign exchange provider goes bust before you’ve received or collected your money. Always check reviews online if you’re buying foreign currency from a travel money provider you’ve not used before. I’d personally not use a travel money bureau I hadn’t heard of, especially if I was ordering currency for a trip weeks in advance
Buying on the high street
If you want to buy on the high street without ordering in advance, you can get
just under €311.73 for £300 from M&S Bank. You’ll have to collect it from an M&S branch that does foreign currency.
SAVVY TIP: If you have an M&S Bank credit card you can order online and you’ll get a better rate of €317. You’ll also be able to pay for your currency on your credit card and you won’t be charged interest as long as you pay it off in full.
You may be able to get a better walk in exchange rate from the Post Office or other outlets, but it doesn’t publish its walk in rates online.
Using a prepaid card
Prepaid cards can be a good option for several reasons:
- You normally get a good exchange rate.
- Your card isn’t linked to your bank account, so the risk of fraud is reduced.
- It can help you budget because you can only spend what you’ve loaded on the card.
- There are normally low or no charges for using them abroad.
However, there are some disadvantages as well:
- There can be a raft of charges and these tend to vary quite widely from card to card, which makes them difficult to compare. There may be one or more of application fees, monthly fees, inactivity fees, a refund fee or a fee if your card has been lost or stolen.
- You’re not covered by Section 75 if you buy something on your prepaid card and there’s a problem with what you’ve bought.
Prepaid card rates
There are several cards that have competitive exchange rates but I’d recommend that you check their fees and charges before you take one out.
We Swap card exchange rate is €1.07, so you’d get €321 if you loaded up your card with £300.
- There’s a fee of £1.75 if you withdraw money through a cash machine. It’s quite good on the fee front as it’s free to reload, there’s no monthly fee.
- There is a £5 if you lose your card and it costs £5 to get your money refunded if there’s money left over, although you can always spend or withdraw what’s on left on your card.
SAVVY TIP: There’s also a £2 a month inactivity fee if you’ve not used your card for a year.
Monzo has a fee free prepaid card but there’s a waiting list to get it.
FairFX, Caxton, the Post Office and Travelex all do travel cards as well.
Using credit or debit cards
It’s always worth taking a credit and debit card – preferably from different banks, in case you need them for emergencies. But be careful which ones you have in your wallet.
Halifax’s clarity credit card has no fees if you spend money abroad or withdraw cash. It has a good exchange rate as well – it’s around €1.09. So you’d get €327 if you withdrew £300 on your card.
There’s also a Barclaycard Platinum Card which has no fees if you use it abroad, and a Post Office Platinum and Saga Platinum that just charge a cash withdrawal fee.
If you have a debit card be aware that the fees can be very high.
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