Foreign Currency: Cash and Travellers Cheques

By: marshc01
So you've booked your holiday, bought all your news clothes and packed the sun cream. All you need now is some spending money so you can enjoy yourself whilst you are away.

You are advised to sort out your foreign currency before you set off on your holiday. All though you can always change your money once you arrive at your destination doing it in advance means you have some spending money as soon as you arrive for any tips or taxis etc. However, in some countries you are not able to exchange your money until you arrive there.

You can exchange your money for foreign currency in almost any bank or building society, along with the post office and some high street shops such as Marks & Spencers. You can shop around for the best exchange rate but generally most exchanges will offer to match the best rate offered elsewhere so ask if you are unsure. Some exchanges will charge commission to exchange your money but then again some do not so again shop around and see what each exchange offers.

When purchasing your money you would be advised not to take it all in cash. Carrying a mixture of cash and travellers cheques means that should your money be lost or stolen then you can claim a refund on your travellers cheques. Stolen or lost cash cannot be replaced, and although some travel insurance may cover you for such instances, you will find that the amount that is refunded is limited, and along with your excess it may make any claim worthless and pointless. Therefore, by carrying travellers cheques you have the added security that if they are lost or stolen that they will be reissued by the issuers.

With travellers cheques, you sign them when you purchase them (at the same exchange rate as your cash) and then you can cash them in whilst away at a local foreign exchange or bank. Many hotels and shops also offer exchange facilities but always check their commission rate and be sure that they are trustworthy before doing so. The last thing you'll want to do is end up with a bundle of fake notes. Most exchange facilities will charge commission to cash in your travellers cheques but it is usually as low as 2% which is a small price to pay for the added security they offer over cash. When you cash in your travellers cheques or exchange cash you will usually need your passport with you also. When getting cash from an exchange facility, try and avoid high currency notes. Not only does this mean you avoid carrying a large proportion of your holiday money in just one note, it also means less inconvenience when paying for items of a smaller price.

Make a note of the serial numbers on the travellers cheques and do not keep the receipt with them. If they are lost or stolen then you need the serial numbers in order to reclaim them. It is also a good idea to give someone back home the serial numbers should you lose or have these stolen too.

You also have the option of withdrawing cash from cash points using your debit or credit card. It is suggested you contact your card issuer(s) before going away to check any charges or fees this may incur.

When carrying any cash or travellers cheques, along with any debit or credit cards, it is important that you do not carry them all in one place. This means that if you lose or have stolen a bag, wallet, or where ever you keep your money, that you do not end up losing all your forms of currency and left with nothing until any replacements (if any at all) can be arranged. If there are more than one adult on the trip then is also suggested that any money is spread amongst them so that one person is not carrying all of it. Consider spreading large amounts of money across your person so that it is not all in one place. You should consider secure money belts or pockets which can be worn under your clothing.

On each day of your holiday you should only carry the amount of money that you think you need for that day. Do not carry more than necessary if it can be avoided. Leave any money or travellers cheques that you are not taking out with you either in a hotel safety deposit box or safe.

When out and about you should always be aware of your surroundings and those around you. In busy areas look out for pickpockets as they will often target tourists so ensure that your money is in a safe place and check every so often to make sure that you still have it.
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