Simon Calder's Holiday Helpdesk: Should I wait to exchange for euros?

 

Q I am travelling to the Canaries in December. The exchange rate for euros at Sainsbury's and the Post Office is €1.14. Do you think waiting until nearer the time is a good idea?

Esther Edwards

A The short answer to your question is: who knows? The longer answer: exchange rates are determined by a wide range of economic factors, with the holidaymaker at the mercy of the markets. In the 11 years since euro notes started circulating, the value of the pound has varied widely - most noticeably in 2008, when the pound collapsed from €1.40 to parity (ie £1 = €1) in less than a year. Anyone who bought dollars in 2007 and euros in 2008, then sold them at the start of 2009, is probably enjoying an affluent retirement.

Since then, there has not been the same degree of fluctuation in the sterling/euro rate, but predicting whether the rate will improve, deteriorate or stay the same is fraught with uncertainty. The prudent option, to minimise the risk of extreme movements, is to buy half your euros now and half nearer the time. But do a bit of work and you can easily improve upon the "walk-up" rate offered by enterprises such as Sainsbury's and the Post Office.

Forget about the complexities of commission rates; the only question to ask is, "How much, in sterling, will you charge for €500 (or however much you plan to buy)?".

A 10-minute trawl up and down the high street, comparing supermarkets with travel agents with the Post Office will result in some very different answers (you are looking to pay less than £439, which is what you have been quoted with a rate of €1.14).

Compare this also with online delivery services, such as those offered by Travelex and ICE; even with the cost of "postage and packing," you may be better off. If you are within reach of an ICE office, for example in London or Glasgow, check out the firm's rates if you print out a voucher at home.

Finally, for a second tranche of your holiday money, consider the "buy online, pick up at the airport" deals offered by providers such as American Express and Moneycorp. But under no circumstances should you be a "walk-up" customer at an airport bureau de change. Last time we looked, Moneycorp (which has a near-monopoly at Gatwick) was offering a measly €1.05 for £1.

Click HERE to email Simon.

You can also tweet him your questions @SimonCalder

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
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 Travel

    Old Royal Naval College: ORNC Visitor Experience Volunteer

    Unpaid voluntary work: Old Royal Naval College: Join our team of friendly volu...

    Recruitment Genius: Customer Service / Sales Assistant

    £8 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This airport parking organisation are looking...

    Recruitment Genius: PCV Bus Drivers

    £8 per hour: Recruitment Genius: Do you enjoy bus driving and are looking for ...

    Ashdown Group: IT Support Technician - York

    £18000 - £20000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: IT Support Technician - Y...

    Day In a Page

    Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

    Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

    One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
    The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

    The enemy within

    People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
    'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

    'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

    Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
    Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

    Autumn/winter menswear 2015

    The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
    'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

    'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

    Army general planning to come out
    Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

    What the six wise men told Tony Blair

    Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
    25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

    25 years of The Independent on Sunday

    The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
    Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
    Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

    Smash hit go under the hammer

    It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
    Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

    The geeks who rocked the world

    A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
    Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

    Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

    Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
    America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

    America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

    These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
    A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

    A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

    A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
    Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

    Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

    A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
    Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

    Growing mussels

    Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project