Six summer holiday travel money tips

Have we seen the end of using cash abroad?

happy family jumping together...

With the summer holidays well underway, many of us will be heading off for a well-deserved break.

While record numbers of us are opting for a staycation, a lot will be heading overseas.

See also: How to spot fake currency on holiday

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This means, along with the sunscreen, swimming costume and sunglasses, people will be adding travel money to their shopping lists.

But with so many travel money options, from the plastic in your wallet to the airport bureaux de change, how do you know you're getting the best deal.

Here, we offer our six travel money tips for your summer getaway.

1. Find out the charges

Cash is dead, or so they say and they might very well be right. Our wallets, purses and handbags are full of plastic cards and smartphones we can use to pay for things. So why would we bother carry around notes and coins?

Plastic is certainly convenient. Credit and debit cards are accepted around the globe and, unless you're heading off the beaten-track, you probably won't struggle to find a cash machine. But is this a good way of spending abroad?

Unfortunately, there's no definitive answer. It all comes down to your bank and card provider.

Many credit and debit cards charge a foreign transaction fee, around 3% of the total. If you take out money, you can be hit with a withdrawal fee. Credit card providers might also start charging you interest on overseas transactions straight away.

To find out if cards are a good way of spending on holiday, you need to find out what your bank will charge you.

2. Fee-free credit cards

The good news is, there are a range of credit cards, which get rid of all, or some, of these fees, but you need to be careful and think about how you will use the card.

Some might not charge the transaction fee, which makes them great for spending, but charge more for withdrawals. Others are better for withdrawals, but charge more for spending.

Just remember, if you're going to be using your credit card on holiday, make sure you pay it off in full at the end of the month to avoid any nasty interest charges.

3. Look at pre-paid cards

These are a great alternative to traveller's cheques. Simply load a card with money before you leave and use it in the same way as a debit card.

However, you need to be careful with what card you are using. Some cards charge you to top up or withdraw money from a cash machine. Others have a monthly fee or a penalty charge for not using the money within a certain period.

But, if you choose the right one for your spending needs, pre-paid cards can be very useful. They also have the added benefit of not allowing you to overspend.

4. Take some cash with you

Cards are great, but it's always useful to have some cash with you for small purchases, taxis and tips.

But there are some safety tips you need to know. Make sure you never walk around with all your travel money on you in case you lose it or it gets stolen and check your travel insurance policy to see how much cash you are covered for.

And remember, withdrawing money with your debit or credit card might incur charges and interest.

5. But make sure you shop around

Not all travel money shops offer the same exchange rate, so it's really important you shop around to get the best deal.

You also need to keep an eye on any extra charges for delivery, or if they only deliver to your home address. After all, you don't want to miss out on your travel money because nobody was at home.

6. Don't buy at the airport

Whatever you do, make sure you sort out your travel money before you leave.

The bureaux de change at the airport, ferry terminal or train station are much more expensive than high street and online providers.

This article is provided by the Money Advice Service.

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