Buying foreign currency

If you’re going abroad, it’s a good idea to take some cash with you in the local currency to pay for essentials like food and drink, tips and taxis. Get the best deal for your money by comparing prices online and buying it before you go.

Where to buy foreign currency

Banks, bureaux de change, the Post Office, some travel agents, some larger supermarkets, other shops, specialist websites and foreign exchange brokers all sell foreign currency.

You can either pick it up in person, or arrange for it to be delivered. You’ll often find the best rates online but there are some drawbacks.

  • You’ll pay a charge of around £5 for delivery, unless free delivery is offered.
  • You’ll need to be at home to sign for it when it arrives, though they may deliver to a work address.
  • You may not be given the option to choose which notes you want – it’s often useful to have some smaller notes when you arrive to pay for things like tips.

Depending on where you buy your currency you may get it delivered for free if you order more than a certain amount – typically over £500.

Get the best deal on foreign currency

The exchange rates and the fees you’ll pay for buying your currency will vary between different providers. Get the best deal on your money by following these simple steps.

  • Buy it in advance – the bureaux de change at the airport and ferry ports are more expensive than high street and online providers.
  • Shop around for the best deal – use price comparison websites to find the best deal. They can show you how much you’ll get for your money once the exchange rate and any charges have been taken into account. TravelMoneyMax.com from Money Saving Expert or MoneySuperMarket.com are good places to search for the best deal.
  • Pay for your money using your debit card – buying travel money is classed as a cash withdrawal, so if you buy on your credit card your card provider may charge you interest – and maybe a fee as well – even if you pay off your card in full each month. Some travel money providers add an extra charge of their own if you pay by credit card.

Other ways for paying for things abroad

Find out the best way to pay for things while you’re abroad in our guide below.