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
News
The 67P/CG comet as seen from the Philae lander
scienceThe most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Arts and Entertainment
Ian McKellen as Gandalf in The Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies
film
Sport
football
Arts and Entertainment
Sarah Koenig, creator of popular podcast Serial, which is to be broadcast by the BBC
tvReview: The secret to the programme's success is that it allows its audience to play detective
News
Ruby Wax has previously written about her mental health problems in her book Sane New World
people
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

    Investigo: Finance Analyst

    £240 - £275 per day: Investigo: Support the global business through in-depth a...

    Ashdown Group: Data Manager - £Market Rate

    Negotiable: Ashdown Group: Data Manager - MySQL, Shell Scripts, Java, VB Scrip...

    Ashdown Group: Application Support Analyst - Bedfordshire/Cambs border - £32k

    £27000 - £32000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Application Support Analyst - near S...

    Recruitment Genius: Class 1 HGV Driver

    £23000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This successful group of compan...

    Day In a Page

    Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
    Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

    Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

    As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
    The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

    The Interview movie review

    You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
    Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

    How podcasts became mainstream

    People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
    Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

    Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

    Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
    Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

    A memorable year for science – if not for mice

    The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
    Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

    Christmas cocktails to make you merry

    Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
    5 best activity trackers

    Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

    Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
    Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

    Paul Scholes column

    It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
    Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

    Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

    Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
    Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

    Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

    2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

    Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

    The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
    Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

    Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

    The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
    Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

    The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

    Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas