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The great currency throwaway – how you could be wasting hundreds

From not shopping around for the best exchange rates to spending at the airport just to get rid of left over cash, we’re a nation that throws away our currency when on our holidays.

When we go away we’re probably more focused on getting a deal for our flights and hotel than our spending money, and new Money Advice Service research out today uncovers just how much currency we waste when on our hols.

Changing cash can cost 10%

Only half of UK adults shop around for the best currency exchange rates, with a third (33%) just heading to the local bureau de change and taking whatever is offered.

One in ten are leaving it to the last minute by changing their pounds at the airport, often for the worst exchange rates possible.

The difference between the best rates if you look in advance, and getting money at the departure gate can be as much as 10%.

If you’re away for a fortnight or travelling with your family it won’t take long to hit £1,000 in spending and lose up to £100.


Spending for the sake of it

Our research also uncovered as a nation we waste £1 billion a year at airports just to get rid of leftover currency.

On average we spend £14.27 per holiday at Duty Free or on food and drink before we fly - rather than bring it back home.

For many it seems converting leftover cash back to pounds isn’t worth it, with £52 the average amount we need to have to think it’s worthwhile changing it back. However, would you spend this much just to get rid of it if it was already in sterling? Probably not.

If you find you have some foreign money at the end of your trip, think first about how else you could use it. If you are likely to go back to the same country soon, you could put it towards a fund for your next trip.

If not, even though you’ll lose a little on the exchange rate, switching it back means you’ve some extra cash for Christmas, birthdays or holidays.


Running out of money

For those who don’t have money left from a holiday, there’s a good chance that’s because you’ve overspent.

One in three UK holidaymakers run out of cash and a quarter usually or always go over budget.

If that happens to you when you go away, it’s probably worth building a small emergency fund to cover unexpected costs and make sure you can make it to the end of your trip.

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  • denise bacon / 9 August 2015

    Can you offer some advice on credit cards which don't charge a fee when holidaying in a foreign country

  • Catherine / 17 July 2015

    I generally shop around for the best rate. If you're using a website you can get free postage but usually it's only if you want a certaing amount i.e. £750. Every little helps!!

  • Pete / 14 July 2015

    If your on a cruise ship is the best way to pay the bill in cash or card, if it is in dollars