Anyone out there still buying foreign currency before visiting Euroland? Or, indeed, visiting anywhere else in the EU? A word in your ear.
Some time ago I ceased doing this – well, apart from a recent need to use up my Travel Pound credits at Thomas Cook – and there have been no regrets. So what do I do instead?
Simple. I opened a current account with the nice people at Nationwide, whose debit cards do not attract commission charges when making cash withdrawals abroad. Not only that, but the exchange rate given is pretty close to the actual rate in force on the day of the transaction – none of this “tourist rate” business.
The only potential snag is that, on occasion, a choice will be offered between Sterling and “local currency”. You should choose the latter.
How much difference does it make? Ah well. In May, the “tourist rate” for the Hungarian Forint – I was visiting Budapest – was just short of 290 to the pound. The rate I got from hitting an ATM at Ferihegi Airport was 322. Bit of a difference.
Hence, on reading this article in the Guardian, my feeling that it was all a little old hat. But I agree with them on one caution: avoid Travelex like the plague.
UPDATE: a not dissimilar rate difference in Prague, with the “tourist rate” for the Czech Koruna showing around 28, and a hit on an ATM at Ruzyne Airport giving over 31.7 – meaning more cabbage, more dumplings, and more Pilsener Urquell!