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Foreign Currency Deals

Foreign Currency Deals

Category: Money

Updated: 31/10/2008
First Published: 08/08/2006

MONEYFACTS ARCHIVE
This article was correct at the time of publication. It is now over 6 months old so the content may be out of date.

With the peak holiday season soon upon us, Lisa Taylor from moneyfacts.co.uk takes a look at the foreign currency providers on the high street, highlighting the surprisingly large savings that can be made by shopping around, and discusses the difficulties in securing the 'best deal'.

"As with most goods and services many consumers take the time to shop around for the best deal, and financial products are no exception. However one area that is particularly difficult and time consuming to evaluate is foreign money.

"Whether it be using traveller's cheques and cash, credit cards or debit cards abroad, it is difficult to know the exact costs, rates and therefore the best method to use.

"Many consumers still rely on traditional travellers cheques and cash when travelling overseas, but when choosing their provider they often do so in the dark – virtually unaware of how good a deal they are getting.

"So why is it so complicated? When looking for the best deal, not only do you have to consider the commission charge, but also the exchange rate, which changes on a daily basis. Even if you took the time to search the market, calculated the total costs, by the next day, chances are the same deal could not be found again.

"Researchers at Moneyfacts have been into the marketplace and surveyed some of the largest foreign currency providers on the high street, to give an insight into where the best deals can be found.

"The tables below illustrate the total sterling amount you would need to pay for either 1,000 US dollars or 1,000 Euros.

"By choosing carefully from the providers listed below, savings of well over £30 can be made on currency or travellers cheques. And of course the more money you take, the larger the savings are to be made.

"Surprisingly, those providers who offer 0% commission also offer some of the better exchange rates on the market. With commission charges ranging from 0% to 2%, and with rates differing by up to 3.9%, there is significant variation between providers.

"However don't assume that commission free is always the best – look at Thomas Cook in the attached tables to see what we mean.

"Consumers should perhaps look away from their own bank or travel agent and take the time to shop around a few providers. Providers such as Marks and Spencer and the Post Office, not perhaps your first choice, proved to be very competitive.

"A small survey of this nature was very time consuming, possibly explaining why consumers do not shop around the whole market. We have only taken a snapshot of the branch-based services, while there is the whole other world of internet and telephone services also to consider, again with varying rates, commission and the added cost in some cases of a delivery charge."

Euro Currency

ProviderRateCommissionTotal
Thomas Cook1.4270%707.77
Marks and Spencer1.420%704.23
Halifax~1.403820%712.34
Post Office1.40180%713.37
Barclays1.39780%715.41
Lloyds TSB1.39710%715.77
Thomson1.3920%718.39
Royal Bank of Scotland1.39891.5% min £2725.56
NatWest1.39892% min £2.50729.15
HSBC1.3742% min £3742.36
~ Only available to existing Halifax customers

Euro Traveller's Cheques

ProviderRateCommissionTotal
Marks and Spencer1.420%704.23
Thomas Cook1.4271% min £2707.78
Halifax1.410950%708.74
Post Office1.40320%712.66
Barclays1.39780%715.41
Royal Bank of Scotland1.4041.5% min £3722.93
Thomson1.3921%725.57
NatWest1.4042% min £4726.50
HSBC1.3742% min £3742.36
Lloyds TSB*---
* Does not recommend traveller's cheques

Dollar Currency

ProviderRateCommissionTotal
Marks and Spencer1.8280%547.05
Thomas Cook1.8280%547.05
Halifax1.808110%553.06
Barclays1.79980%555.62
Lloyds TSB**1.79650%556.64
Post Office1.9410%557.38
Thomson1.7920%558.04
Royal Bank of Scotland1.78341.5% min £2569.14
NatWest1.78342% min £2.50571.94
HSBC1.762% min £3579.54

Dollar Traveller's Cheques

ProviderRateCommissionTotal
Marks and Spencer1.8280%547.05
Halifax1.81730%550.27
Thomas Cook1.8281% min £2552.52
Barclays1.79980%555.62
Post Office1.79880%555.93
Lloyds TSB1.79370%557.51
Thomson1.7921%563.62
Royal Bank of Scotland1.7891.5% min £3567.35
NatWest1.7892% min £4570.15
HSBC1.762% min £3579.54

Disclaimer: Information is correct as of the date of publication (shown at the top of this article). Any products featured may be withdrawn by their provider or changed at any time.

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