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Why you need to get your Easter holiday money now

Anyone about to head off on an Easter break probably has “currency” on their to-do list – but if you leave it too late it could cost you as much as 15% - that’s £15 lost for every £100 you change up.

The worst way to pay abroad is often to use overseas cash machines, and fortunately our research last year found two thirds exchange their money before they go. That’s likely to offer better rates – but that doesn’t mean they’re getting the best value for money.

One in ten holiday makers get their foreign cash when they get to the airport, almost a third (29%) go to a bureau de change on the high street, while one in seven (14%) pre-order from their bank.

Half chose these options because it was the easiest, while just over a third said it was because they had always done it that way.

And around one in five were also swayed by promises of “zero-free” commission – but that doesn’t mean the same thing as the best exchange rate.

Shopping around for your currency

If you take a look at the different rates available at the banks and bureau de changes you’ll see the exchange rates can vary dramatically.

We compared the price to exchange £1000 into Euros with an online comparison site. The difference between finding the best price and leaving it until the airport was a staggering £188.90.

Ordering in advance will generally get you a better rate than just popping in during your lunch break, and using a comparison site can help you find the best rates near you.

Using a cash machine abroad comes at a cost

Of course, even if you are prepared, you might run out of cash or feel uncomfortable carrying too much with you.

Our research found a quarter chose to use a cash machine abroad for getting their money.

Though not necessarily the worst way to get money, if you don’t have one of a handful of specialist current accounts or credit cards, it’s highly likely you’ll be hit by unwanted extra charges.

These could include a “load fee” on top of the exchange rate and a set charge of around £1.50 per withdrawal. You could also be charged a fee by the local bank. If you use a credit card you’ll also usually be charged interest on the money.

If you’re regularly going abroad it might be worth looking at getting a bank account or credit card which doesn’t charge these, though there are other considerations when choosing the right account or card for you.

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  • Joanne Cowens / 25 March 2016

    Useful. I usually pack hours before and get currency at the airport!! Will order early this time. Enlightening