Beginner's Guide To: Holiday money

Half-term represents the beginning of the summer holiday season. If you're heading off abroad in the coming months, make sure you think about your holiday money before you go. The weakness of the pound means it's more important than ever to ensure you get the best deal on your foreign currency, but exchange rates and charges vary so it's easy to get caught out. Here are some tips on how to keep your holiday spending costs down:

Order your currency online

Don't buy your currency at the airport, train station or ferry port. Time and again, research shows that the best exchange rates are to be had online. It's really simple – you just order the amount you want and it will be delivered to your home or place of work. Depending on where you order it from, you may also be able to collect it from a branch or store. For example, Marks & Spencer's travel money service allows you to order online and collect from a store, while Travelex, which has an online price guarantee, lets you order online, so you get the more competitive exchange rate, but you can collect your money at the airport.

Watch out for credit and debit card fees

These are convenient but can also be costly. Most providers levy a loading fee of between 2.5 per cent and 3 per cent each time you spend on your card overseas. You will probably also be charged a withdrawal fee for withdrawing cash from an ATM.

Don't use a credit card to withdraw cash

As well as incurring a fee, using a credit card to withdraw cash from an ATM also likely to attract a higher rate of interest than purchases. Also, interest is charged from the day the withdrawal is made so even if you clear your credit card balance in full each month, it can't be avoided.