As summer fast approaches we take a look at the UK’s most popular companies for performing holiday money exchange. Whilst the rise of ultra-competitive FinTech companies such as Fair FX and Revolute begins to cloud the marketplace, the thick end of the sector is still dominated by brands that have a long-standing history rather than an FX focus.
Having dealt in travel money for many years this history combined with excellent coverage across the UK sees the post office crowned as the UK most used holiday money exchange. Boasting in excess of 3000 branches the Post Office has a holiday money exchange in most UK towns and some larger villages.
Clients have the ability to pre-book and pick up their foreign currency by using their ‘Click & Collect’ service. They also offer a straight over the counter collection in the 3000 branches as well as a travel money prepaid currency card.
Whilst rates are neither terrible or the best in the market the convenience of the branch coverage and online order and delivery may outweigh the perceived saving. Those purchasing more than £500 of currency do receive a free next working day delivery providing their foreign currency is booked before 3 p.m. Branch collection can also be super convenient with those who have busy lives and foreign currency can be collected as little as two hours after ordering.
Typically known more so for fresh produce than its holiday money exchange Sainsbury’s involvement in the travel money sector may surprise some however they now find themselves amongst the UK travel money providers.
Sainsbury’s travel money services include foreign cash collection and delivery and a travel money card. Sainsburys Nectar cardholders received improved rates.
Sainsbury’s travel money services are available in roughly 260 stores and rates are fair however don’t improve when more holiday money is exchanged. The supermarket does, however, offer £5 off travel insurance on foreign currency orders in excess of £500.
The supermarket also offers a card with wallet technology, allowing clients to add multiple currencies to the travel money passport. The passport can hold US Dollars, Euros, Australian Dollars, Turkish Lira, Swiss Franc, South African Rand, Canadian Dollar to name a few. This functionality can be excellent for frequent flyers.
The second and the UK’s largest supermarket chain is Tesco who also has a keen interest in the travel money sector. The supermarket currently offers a raft of financial services via its Tesco Bank brand. Meaning its not strictly a non-bank provider, with this being said their foreign currency departments are operated in-store rather than in a classic bank, so it makes our list.
Tesco currently operates a holiday money exchange in 300 stores and on 100 customer service desks meaning shoppers have the convenience of collecting their travel money in the majority of stores.
In terms of travel money offers, they are slightly behind Sainsbury’s travel money offering and don’t currently offer a travel money card. They do however offer ‘click and collect’ and deliver to your home. For those rushing for a plane the ‘click and collect’ service only has to be booked 2hrs before collection. Smaller travel cash amounts can be delivered but the delivery cost is £3.95, order over £500 are free of charge.
An improved rate is also available for those purchasing between £800 and £2500 of foreign currency.
The third and final supermarket on our list currently make the top 4 with holiday money exchange services currently available in 120 stores, online and by click and collect.
Click and collect receive a marginally better rate than those who purchase directly over the counter or online. No travel money card is available from M&S but holders of their credit card receive 55 days interest-free when using their M&S credit card to purchase foreign currency from one of their holiday money exchanges. Holders of the M&S credit card or debit card also receive the aforementioned superior rate available to ‘click and collect’ clients.
While Thomas Cook tour operator finds itself with its back against the wall in order to survive, Thomas Cook travel money services still remain a very popular means for holidaymakers to source their foreign currency. The 7th most popular company in the UK currency offer over the counter holiday cash, a travel money card and a reserve and collect in store option.
Their travel money card is provided by LYK and holds 10 foreign currencies. Overseas ATM withdrawals fees vary subject to the currency with the most popular EUR and USD currencies being charges at €1.75 and $2.50.
Known as a giant in the travel money and international payments sector, many might have expected to have seen Travelex higher up the list however currently they only service an estimated 5% of the travel money market. It is, however, worth mentioning that they do power a number of sizable providers meaning they do have a larger market share than previously believed.
Travelex is prominent in both the UK and the States. Their UK coverage includes high streets, major transport locations, airports and city bureaux. Travelex retail stores can be found in 60 countries and in 2017 their online travel money systems performed in excess of 800,000 transactions. Unlike the other suppliers above their key activity is in the Foreign exchange market with travel money, remittances and international payments being their key disciplines.
In terms of travel money products and services, Travelex offers online cash order and deliveries in numerous countries. As their primary function rates are fare and customer feedback good.
Cash deliveries are charged at just £2.99 and free on orders above £600. Travelex also offers a number of convenient pick-up locations which include malls, airports and railway stations.
Their prepaid currency card can also be reloaded easily online or via their app. It can hold up to 10 currencies and has great global coverage.
Whilst the majority of the holiday money exchange providers have other interests besides travel money this shouldn’t dissuade potential clients. Whilst the clear correlation between convenience/location and preference is clear many of the supermarket providers are keenly priced. For those who look for the ultimate value, the new solutions available including Fair FX and Revolute should be investigated, however, if you only travel occasionally and often pass a post office or supermarket the saving probably isn’t worth travelling for. Always, however, inquire as to charge costs of travel money cards, ATM withdrawal pricing or if purchasing travel money with a credit card will incur a handling or supplementary fee. If in the store always barter, you might just get a better rate and always quote another provider if you’ve seen a better deal!