Lancashire Times
A Voice of the Free Press
8:21 PM 25th June 2022

Travellers Urged To Plan Ahead To Protect Cash

Travel money provider, FairFX, is urging travellers to plan ahead to protect their travel money amid major disruption on British railways, London underground and at airports.

While Brits heading on holiday will be rethinking their travel plans amid rail strikes on Thursday and Saturday this week, FairFX are encouraging them not to leave things like travel money to the last minute.

Exchanging currency until the last minute can cost consumers, with airport bureau de change desks historically offering rates 16% lower on average than the market rate. This amounts to £78 less for every £500 exchanged.

The worst rate recorded by FairFX investigations was at Stansted airport, where travellers were offered exchange rates 30% lower than the market rate, a staggering difference of £149 for £500.

And amid the extra disruption, travellers are taking a gamble leaving it until last minute to get currency, in case they are caught up in reported airport delays and cancellations and left to rely on their using their credit or debit card abroad. FairFX’s investigation in April 2022 found that typical bank cards can charge up to £43.31 in foreign transaction fees on card payments and cash withdrawals, compared a specific currency card.

The travel money provider has shared their top tips for mitigating delays and avoiding extra costs amid the disruption, with sorting your holiday money in advance at the top of the list.

Jack Mitchell, Head of Travel Money at FairFX said:
“Travellers will no doubt be anxious about the disruption to train services on Thursday and Saturday this week, on top of ongoing flight cancellations and delays at airports across the UK. As well as the inconvenience, getting caught up in transport delays can not only cost you time, but money.

“While delays may not be avoidable, there are things you can do to plan ahead to avoid having to dip into your pocket to reach your destination. The most important is to always sort your holiday money in advance to avoid extortionate rates at airport bureau de change desks. Among all the holiday prep, we know it can be easy to let sorting your currency slip to the bottom of the list, but this can cost you cash from your holiday budget.

“If you have a trip lined up, plan ahead, or it can be a slippery slope of extra costs. Securing your cash ahead of time; monitoring currency movements to consider whether it might be worth locking in rates, and setting aside a holiday spending budget on a card that won’t charge you a foreign currency transaction fee, will help you to avoid getting caught out.”

FairFX’s top tips to save cash amid travel delays and disruption:

Sort your currency in advance – Waiting to exchange your currency at the airport can cost you, with FairFX analysis revealing that the average airport bureau de change desk offers rates 16% below market rate, which amounts to £78 less for £500 exchanged.* Sorting your currency in advance allows you to keep an eye on exchange rates, giving you the option to consider locking in rates when the pound is performing well, getting more bang for your buck.

If you can, carry on – Packing light pays off, in terms of both time and money. If you’re going on a short break, or travelling somewhere warm where your clothes will be thinner and lighter, stick with just carry-on luggage. It costs less, but it also saves time – no queuing to check in your bag, you can breeze straight through, and avoid the added panic if you’re held up in airport queues. And even more importantly, no queueing at your destination, so your holiday can start straight away. Some airlines now offer speedy or priority boarding if you pay for a larger cabin bag, which is still less expensive than hold luggage, and less risky.

Cut queues with advance check in – Check in for your flight in advance through your airline’s website or app. You can either print the boarding pass in advance, or download your airline’s app and have it safely stored on your phone, allowing you to avoid check-in queues, scan your pass on your phone, and walk straight through to security when you arrive.

Sort travel documents ahead of time – While Covid-19 travel restrictions have significantly eased, many countries still have restrictions in place, meaning extra admin for your trip. Leaving your documents until last minute can cause unnecessary stress, so get your documents in order as far in advance as you can. Check the entry requirements of your destination to see exactly what you need and keep an eye out for any expected changes. If you’re fully vaccinated, you can download the correct international travel pass onto your phone at any time, and the sooner the better, as some need additional verification which can take up to two weeks. If you need to test to travel, book your appointment well in advance so you know you’ve ticked it off the list, and you can shop around for the best price rather than getting caught with last minute prices.

Pack your own to avoid paying – The worst thing about delays is getting caught unprepared, so pack for every eventuality. If you’re travelling by car or train, pack layers, snacks, and entertainment, especially if you have kids in tow. This will avoid you having to fork out at service station shops which tend to be more expensive. Don’t forget the portable charger for your devices too in case your journey takes longer than anticipated.

Research the best deals for transport – If you’re hoping for a last-minute trip and you’ve not yet booked your flights, it could be worth opting for an earlier flight, as they’re less likely to face delays due to the knock-on impact. Don’t leave things like travel to the airport to the last minute either, booking your parking space in advance often costs less and allows you to budget. With fuel costs rising, consider whether public transport could be a more cost-effective option, with a coach trip to the airport or train if you want to dodge the traffic too, although factor in any planned disruption or strikes on public transport.