What’s the best way to take travel money? Tours Nepal, Cambodia, Laos, India or anywhere else?

money - Angel Holidays Tour Operator
Changing money abroad – the cheaper way

With many of us travelling these days, what’s the best (and cheapest) way to take your travel money?

Buying currency to go overseas can be expensive, unless you know what you’re doing. For one, never, ever, under any circumstances exchange money at an airport, the exchange rates are always abysmal. Touring places like India, Cambodia or other far flung destinations too, it’s best not even to get the currency until you get there – it can be bought much more cheaply in the country of origin.

On most trips it’s advisable to have your spending money in as many guises as possible: a mixture of debit card, credit card and hard cash. It’s also more advantageous to spend what currency you have before coming home (unless you plan to revisit) as ‘buy back’ rates from companies like Tui and others are equally abysmal.

Using your debit card abroad does have it charges (we’ll come to that below) and hard cash exchange facilities overseas who charge ‘no commission’ fundamentally make their profits from poorer exchange rates. Although it must be said that on tour in places like Cambodia, Laos, Nepal or India money changes are ‘fairer’ so it’s worth doing.

So here are our tips on how to get the best from your pound abroad.

To use your debit card abroad (and inform your bank before you go) always take out large amounts at a time. The local cashpoint and your bank usually set a fee per withdrawal, so taking out smaller amounts overseas does not make sense. The advantage with debit cards is that they often give you a better rate of exchange than any money changers or banks. So, on arrival in a country ‘max out’ and take out a lump sum with your debit card first.

Take a sum of money in UK sterling. This acts as security if you lose your cards. Take this in £50 notes as exchange facilities often give you a slightly better rate for £50s as opposed to anything smaller. This is because logistically-wise, they are easier to move.

Travellers cheques are virtually extinct, so it’s best not to take these particularly on tours of India, Nepal or Cambodia. Some banks offer cards where you ‘load’ them with credit – with free withdrawals overseas. Whilst these can be popular, be aware that they do not work everywhere, and the bank might initially give you a poorer rate of exchange on the loading of a card: what they give with one hand – they take with another.


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