Foreign exchange rates vary dramatically and with a little research you’ll be able to make great savings (or at the very least, avoid getting ripped off!)
How much can I save?
November 2015: We did a recent comparison based on changing £500 (UK pounds) to CAD$ (Canadian Dollars). The best rate provided CAD$1018, the worst gave CAD$946. A difference of CAD$72. Rates vary continually and these values are offered to demonstrate the potential savings.
Here are a few ideas to help you:
1. Shop around
Always shop around to get the best rate. Compare banks and travel shops in the high street or use online tools (a popular website is operated by Money Saving Expert).
2. Avoid changing currency at the airport
The large foreign exchange companies are represented at the airport (Travelex, Moneycorp, etc) and make it very convenient to get money at the start of your journey. However, unless you pre-order, they offer some of the worst exchange rates. They have a captive audience and they know that you won’t be able to get currency anywhere else. Avoid currency exchange at the airport unless you’ve ordered in advance at an acceptable rate.
If you use a dedicated currency card you can load money on to it using the exchange rate of the day. So, if the rates are in your favour and you think they may dip, put some money on to the currency card. However, also be aware of fees and charges that could be associated with currency cards; see point 4 below.
4. If you have a currency card make sure you know the fees
It makes good sense to use a foreign currency cash card. These are safe and secure and provide a good rate of exchange. They are normally more economical than using a debit or credit card from home. However, check the small print carefully.
Working Holiday Store partners with Caxton FX. They offer competitive exchange rates; they issue the card for free and there aren’t any charges to make purchases or ATM withdrawals in the country of that currency.
Find out more and order your free Caxton FX currency cards here.
When researching different currency cards make sure you check the small-print so that you know how to get the most from them (and how to avoid penalty charges). These are some of the things to check so that you know where you may be getting charged.
- Purchasing the card. Some cards are issued free, but some require a payment or annual subscription
- Loading the card. When you add money to the card they may charge a fee (either a % or flat rate)
- Foreign transactions. If you use the card to make purchases they may levy a fee
- ATM. If you draw cash they may charge a fee
- Using your card for a currency other than the one that the card has been issued in could incur penalties
- Withdrawing cash over the counter at a bank may attract an extra fee
- Withdrawing any funds from your card in your home country could also result in extra costs
There may be other fees associated with things like replacing a lost card, issuing statements etc. Also, the ATM providers may add their own fee; these are locally applied costs that can’t be changed. If you are unexpectedly charged by the ATM, try a different bank/ATM.
5. Keep your money safe
Once you’ve got your cash, here are a few common sense ideas to consider:
If you have a choice, get smaller denomination notes. You don’t want to pay for a coke with a $100 bill.
Don’t keep all of your money in your purse or wallet. Put some aside in another safe place. If you are the victim of a pick-pocket or petty thief you don’t want them to get everything. It will be helpful to have some emergency cash hidden away.
Be careful when using ATM’s. Be aware of anyone around you; where possible use an ATM located inside a bank.
We have some more comprehensive information regarding money and currency cards here: