Comparing travel money is straight forward and easy to do, but when you're comparing your travel cash it helps if you know some of the industry secrets that we're going to tell you.
We know you're smart and when you're comparing currency provider you already know to:
It's that easy when comparing, especially online - but it's only part of the story. We'll share some of our industry secrets that will help you get a good deal.
Some providers still allow you to call and order currency. This can be good if you have special requests (such lots of small notes or big notes) - or you want some advice on how much to take.
But you also get to speak to a real person - who will often have the ability to give you a better deal, especially if you're ordering a large amount of currency (e.g. £3000+).
These often are not advertised well, but some currency providers have partnerships with big employers, employee reward schemes, unions and other organisations, membership bodies or clubs.
Most of these bodies have websites that list their 'deals' and partnerships - so it's worth checking to see if you can get a slightly better rate or a free upgrade (e.g. free Saturday delivery).
The more convenient the method of buying currency, the more expensive it is; for example, buying at an airport is really handy, but the cost of operating in an airport is often very high - and so the cost of the currency service increases.
And although you can call some providers and speak to a real person, phone support is expensive to operate and is in decline from most providers - many have withdrawn ordering over the phone.
There's more competition to sell currency online - this drives down the price for consumers.
This means that you'll nearly always find the best deals online - but be careful using comparison sites and make sure you chose a provider you trust - getting an extra £2 on a £1000 order isn't a great deal if it arrives after you've got on the plane.
Some comparison sites are a really good way of finding a great price (including all costs, such as postage), but there are pitfalls:
1. They "lag behind" the providers.
When it comes to information like order limits, discounts and postage fee's it can take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks for them to catch-up because it's a manual process to update the information.
This is why you've often compared on a website, only to find the 'actual price' on the retailers site is different.
2. They inflate the cost of currency.
Sites that offer currency comparison aren't free for companies like Travelex, ICE, Eurochange and the rest. Typically we have to pay some form of advertising fee. This in turn means that the cost of the currency will increase not just from each supplier, but across the industry - as comparison sites drive a lot of volume.
3. It can be more expensive sometimes
Because providers usually get charged to feature on a comparison site, that extra cost is sometimes factored into the currency rate. This means that sometimes the costs on the comparison site can be higher than going direct, but they can also be cheaper too - it depends on how the company is trying to get customers.
It's really no different from when you buy insurance online or other "compared products" - always check twice.
Online doesn't have a big 'overhead' cost to operate compared to shops - but shops need to drive customers to them in order to operate - so click & collect can offer great rates and local convenience for fast collection.
Click and collect can still give you a a really great rate too - usually not too far from the online rate - and you can often collect within 1-2 hours of ordering.
Sometimes it's even cheaper to use Click & Collect compared to Home Delivery - our own branch in Waterloo is typically cheaper than the best online home delivery rate - but it's only worth using it if you're in the local area (unless you're placing a large order and the cost of travelling still means you'll save!).
This isn't a secret, we know. But we wanted to cover this point and explain a nuance about where the shop is located.
If you visit a branch in a location like an airport or popular tourist area, the rent is typically extremely high, so the cost charged for the currency also has to be high, to cover the costs.
Typically buying from a "high street" shop is cheaper - shops on a general high street have lower rent compared to airports and popular tourist areas, so they can charge less for their currency.
Again, you can talk to a real person in a shop, so you might be able to negotiate a better rate - but this only really comes into play if you're ordering a significant amount (thousands, not hundreds).
Even then, you'll often find you'll get a better guaranteed rate simply by doing click & collect!
If you're buying online or using click & collect, you're going to get a good rate.
Most people buy £200 to £2000 to take away with them. At those amounts, the variance in the currency markets doesn't make a big difference from week to week - and it's very rare that we have significant events (like Brexit) which can move the rate significantly overnight.
Of course, if you're buying a very large amount of currency, then it's good to be aware of market direction as it will affect you more.