Don't feed the sharks

Italy's good, France is bad, and Greece is definitely dodgy. Lucy Roberts on far your pound will go abroad and the best places to exchange your holiday money

Whether or not you can afford to live the life of Reilly on holiday this year will depend largely on where you are bound. The pound has put in a mixed performance on the international currency markets since last summer, leaving some destinations substantially cheaper but others much dearer.

For example, pounds 500 spent in Italy this year will go almost pounds 50 further than last year. The same money will also buy you an extra $45 in the US. Sadly, visitors to France are looking at an unpalatable Fr7.6 to the pound, a pounds 30 erosion in their pounds 500 spending money.

The best exchange-rate improvement has been against the Turkish lira (pounds 500 last year is now worth pounds 650). But then, Turkish inflation has been running at 125 per cent. And while the drachma has been level with the pound over the past 12 months, Greece has seen inflation of 10 per cent.

When buying currency it is important to remember that charges and exchange rates vary widely. For peace of mind buy currency before you leave the UK, even if you leave it until the last minute.

Exchange rates at BAA airports are pegged at high street bank levels. They guarantee to be able to supply pounds 500 in the top 10 world currencies or will pay $100 compensation.

If buying abroad, good deals can still be had if you shop carefully. Paris, New York and Rome are generally safe if the tourist traps are avoided. You are more likely to get ripped off in Florida, the Greek islands, the Spanish costas and the French rivieras.

When buying currency you will pay commission of 1-3 per cent, with a minimum charge of pounds 1-pounds 3. If you use a eurocheque abroad you will pay commission to the foreign bank that processes it, usually around 1.6 per cent.

If paying with plastic you may get a better rate than changing money at a bank. Card issuers do charge commission, usually 1-2.75 per cent, but this will be buried in the exchange rate shown on your statement.

You can use Visa or MasterCard to get cash anywhere that displays the logo. Most instructions can be viewed in English. Simply key in your PIN number as you do in the UK. A Visa Delta card can be used anywhere a Visa sign is shown. Switch cards can also be used abroad but you will need one that displays either the Maestro or Cirrus logo on the back.

When abroad avoid changing money at your hotel - rates are invariably poor - and the obvious tourist haunts. In Italy, use one of the big banks otherwise you may get stung for a commission charge of up to 6 per cent.

Avoid the "hole in the wall" bureaux de change in Greece. They tend to double as water sport or bicycle hire stores and will rip you off.

In Spain the old 2,000 peseta (pounds 10.50) banknote is being phased out so make sure you are given new notes. If you are stuck with the old version - still legal tender but accepted unwillingly if at all - take it to a main bank.

Some European banks will offer a "no commission" deal. These may not be as good as they look so check the exchange rates. Similarly, most currency dealers now offer commission-free deals when changing money back to sterling. Again, check the exchange rates to ensure you are getting a fair deal.

Voices
The Sumatran tiger, endemic to the Indonesian island of Sumatra, is an endangered species
voicesJonathon Porritt: The wild tiger population is thought to have dropped by 97 per cent since 1900
News
The Swiss Re tower or 'Gherkin' was at one time the UK’s most expensive office when German bank IVG and private equity firm Evans Randall bought it
news
Sport
Moeen Ali wearing the 'Save Gaza' and 'Free Palestine' wristbands on his left arm
sport
News
Gardai wait for the naked man, who had gone for a skinny dip in Belfast Lough
newsTwo skinny dippers threatened with inclusion on sex offenders’ register as naturists criminalised
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
Van Gaal said that his challenge in taking over Bobby Robson's Barcelona team in 1993 has been easier than the task of resurrecting the current United side
football
Arts and Entertainment
The Great British Bake Off 2014 contestants
tv
Arts and Entertainment
filmThe Battle of the Five Armies trailer released
News
news
Arts and Entertainment
Beast would strip to his underpants and take to the stage with a slogan scrawled on his bare chest whilst fans shouted “you fat bastard” at him
musicIndie music promoter was was a feature at Carter gigs
Arts and Entertainment
Story line: Susanoo slays the Yamata no Orochi serpent in the Japanese version of a myth dating back 40,000 years
arts + entsApplying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
Extras
indybest
News
Performers dressed as Tunnocks chocolate teacakes, a renowned Scottish confectionary, perform during the opening ceremony of the 2014 Commonwealth Games at Celtic Park in Glasgow on July 23, 2014.
news
Life and Style
Popular plonk: Lambrusco is selling strong
Food + drinkNaff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz
Life and Style
Shake down: Michelle and Barack Obama bump knuckles before an election night rally in Minnesota in 2008, the 'Washington Post' called it 'the fist bump heard round the world'
newsThe pound, a.k.a. the dap, greatly improves hygiene
Finacial products from our partners
Property search
Sell it with flowers: competition is 'intense' for homes with outside spaces

Gardens add a tenth to the value of your home

A London estate agent yesterday put a price on having a garden. David Pollock of Greene & Co reckons it can increase a property's value by a tenth.

Spectators at the Isle of Wight music festival watch the World Cup on the big screen. Betting promotions were a feature of the tournament
Lenders have been accused of persuading vulnerable people to borrow expensive credit

Payday loan firms accused of bombarding vulnerable people with nuisance phone calls

Payday loan firms have been accused of bombarding financially vulnerable people with nuisance phone calls, after a debt charity reported that a third of its clients were plagued by the messages.

The foundation proposed that the Government sets up a scheme to help people avoid losing their homes

Mortgages: 'Homeowners could trade down to shared ownership to defuse rate rise timebomb'

A plan to defuse a “mortgage debt timebomb” when interest rates rise is published today amid warnings that 2.3m households could struggle with their repayments.

Current accounts are too costly and confusing, says CMA as it announces investigation into Britain's biggest banks

Competition regulator to investigate market where it's hard for customers to make comparisons and the big banks' charges can be set too high
All the signs have been pointing up for buy-to-let, but there are clouds on the horizon

Buy-to-let: is it a boom or a bubble fit to burst?

People borrowing to be landlords could face the same restrictions as homebuyers, with MPs voicing fears that property speculation may be overheating the market

Moment of truth for payday lenders: Watchdog plans to curb cost of short-term loans

The chief of the City watchdog, Martin Wheatley, spoke exclusively to The Independent's Simon Read about its attempts to control the worst excesses of unscrupulous high-cost credit companies

Consumers given power to choose a green deal

How would you like to be able to choose how your electricity is made and even where it come from? It may sound futuristic and fanciful but the independent supplier Co-operative Energy has made it a reality this week.

'Scrap the trap': calls for change grow as banks are told to play fair with loyal savers

City regulator says existing customers suffer worst rates

Motor insurers divided on proposals for whiplash ban

MPs want medical evidence for claims. Will this bring higher premiums?

British Gas repays £1m for mis-sold deals

British Gas was yesterday forced to pay back £1m to its customers after mis-selling them energy deals.

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Money & Business

    Senior Fund Administrator - Edinburgh - £22 p/hr

    £20 - £22 per hour + competitive: Orgtel: Senior Fund Administrator, Top Four ...

    Entry Level Fund Accountant (Edinburgh)

    £17 - £20 per hour: Cameron Kennedy Recruitment: My client, one of the worlds ...

    SQL DBA/Developer

    £600 per day: Harrington Starr: SQL DBA/Developer
 SQL, C#, VBA, SQL Server, ...

    Risk Analyst - VBA/EXCEL

    £300 - £600 per day: Harrington Starr: Risk Analyst Access, EXCEL, VBA, RISK, ...

    Day In a Page

    The children were playing in the street with toy guns. The air strikes were tragically real

    The air strikes were tragically real

    The children were playing in the street with toy guns
    Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – The British, as others see us

    Britain as others see us

    Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite
    Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them altogether

    Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them

    Jonathon Porritt sounds the alarm
    How did our legends really begin?

    How did our legends really begin?

    Applying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
    Watch out: Lambrusco is back on the menu

    Lambrusco is back on the menu

    Naff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz
    A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

    A new Russian revolution

    Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
    Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

    Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

    The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
    Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

    Standing my ground

    If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
    Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

    Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

    Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
    Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

    Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

    The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
    The man who dared to go on holiday

    The man who dared to go on holiday

    New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
    Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

    Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

    For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
    The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

    The Guest List 2014

    Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
    Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

    Jokes on Hollywood

    With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on