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Money confusion!

Travel Forums General Talk Money confusion!

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1. Posted by Daniel.J.B (Budding Member 32 posts) 5y

Right, I'm going away on 20th May for 3 months, visiting the USA, Canada, Tahiti, NZ, Oz and Hong Kong, and I'm trying to figure out the best way to access my money abroad (I'm from the UK).

I will have a certain amount of money ready before I go, which I can get changed before leaving. I'm thinking I should get some of it changed to cash for each place, and the rest on prepaid currency cards (where available). That means I don't have to carry too much cash around with me, and get free withdrawals from ATMs at a decent exchange rate.

However, I will also get two wage packets while I'm away (at the end of May and June), and it's here where I can't figure out the best solution. The money will be paid into my HSBC current account. They charge a 2% withdrawal fee (max £5) and a 2.75% exchange rate adjustment. Their premium account offers free withdrawals but apparently I'm not eligible for it.
Nationwide seem to offer the best rates. They charge a flat £1 fee for withdrawals and a 2% exchange rate adjustment (and apparently they offer a very good exchange rate in the first place).
So I'm thinking it might be worth opening a current account with them, transferring what I can from my wages online (need to leave some in there for direct debits and stuff) and using that card to access that money.

All-in-all I'm getting thoroughly confused and was wondering if anyone can nudge me in the right direction.

Cheers,
Dan.

2. Posted by flyingbob (Inactive 842 posts) 5y

First of all, 'Never' change cash for foreign currency in the UK. It has the worst exchange rates in the world.
Yes - you're right about the Nationwide and it's charges, although they've only just come in. All their debit card overseas transactions used to be free - not anymore though.
I must just add that their exchange rates aren't that good, but as I've already said - get your money abroad.
Halifax do a thing called 'Clarity Card' which is interest free for 30 days and has no fee for overseas transactions cleared within the same period.

3. Posted by TravelMc (Respected Member 93 posts) 5y

Don't really agree about UK exchange rates being the worst anymore - have had a couple of wake up calls on that one in the past couple of years! You usually find the worst rates right when you desperately need to change some money and none of the places with good rates are open!
In the UK use the post office or M&S - commission free, they do good deals on changing it back and they are consistently rated highly in Which consumer tests.
Also consider what support the bank you choose can give you if your cards get nicked - how quick can they get you a replacement, what is the process, do they want you to take out extra insurance (unlikely but with banks you never know!) etc. If they can't support you for all of your trip you might find it more comforting to go with a bank that might charge more but will pull out all the stops to help you if something goes wrong.
Just to add more queries to your decision making process :)

4. Posted by flyingbob (Inactive 842 posts) 5y

M&S, like all other exchange posts in the UK - charge commission. If you believe that 'No commission' logo - then fine.
How do you think they make their money?
The Post Office has one of the worst exchange rates of all FOREX outlets in the UK.
I'd like your information on just where there are worse FOREX rates than in the UK, around the world please, - so I can make a note of them.... Thanks.

5. Posted by Daniel.J.B (Budding Member 32 posts) 5y

Quoting TravelMc

Just to add more queries to your decision making process :)

Yeah, thanks for that!!

I'm definately going to get a certain amount changed here, just to be on the safe side. At least I know where I stand then. Like you said, I don't want to be caught cold and end up paying crazy rates, or not being able to get it changed at all (particularly in somewhere like Tahiti).
I think I'm going to spend a day trawling through banks trying to figure out the pros and cons of each. I'd agree with what you saying about possibly paying more, but having better security and peace of mind.

Quoting flyingbob

Halifax do a thing called 'Clarity Card' which is interest free for 30 days and has no fee for overseas transactions cleared within the same period

That sounds interesting, I'll have a look in to that. Obviously depends what their fees are outside of the 30 day period.

Appreciate the advice though people, gives me food for thought!

6. Posted by Cazzyhugs (Budding Member 50 posts) 5y

Just a short one but No.1 Currency undercut all - M&S, post office, bank - even google them and pop in your figures, they always come up tops for me.

7. Posted by Daniel.J.B (Budding Member 32 posts) 5y

Quoting Cazzyhugs

Just a short one but No.1 Currency undercut all - M&S, post office, bank - even google them and pop in your figures, they always come up tops for me.

Useful to know, you've used them before I take it? Never heard of them, but anything that saves me a bit of dosh is a winner

8. Posted by Cazzyhugs (Budding Member 50 posts) 5y

Hey Daniel
Yes I always use them. I'm from Ireland living in Edinburgh and anytime I need euros or other foreign currency I use them-google them though and you'll see I'm sure they have shops all over.

9. Posted by flyingbob (Inactive 842 posts) 5y

Quoting Cazzyhugs

Just a short one but No.1 Currency undercut all - M&S, post office, bank - even google them and pop in your figures, they always come up tops for me

Sounds like you're just talking about UK for-ex's. I'll leave it with you then.

10. Posted by Cazzyhugs (Budding Member 50 posts) 5y

Yes just the UK that I am certain about.