Compare Exchange Rates, Travel Insurance and Currency Cards

Skiing Season equals Currency Sales Season 0


We have already seen currency sales by Travelex and the Post Office on their top selling currencies such as the Euro and US Dollar and we are due to see more in the coming month. As you can imagine the winter is a lean time for holiday money providers and especially this side of Christmas when household budgets are squeezed more than usual.

Most providers make their money during the school holidays and but this school term is a long one and not many people feel the need for a foreign holiday in the October half term so soon after the summer and the UK weather can be very kind to us in the autumn. The only light on the travel money specialists horizon is the skiing season.

I am not going to discount skiing in Scotland but the travel money industry is looking to visitors to Achensee, Chamonix, Courchevel, Fuschlsee, Les Arcs, Seefeld, Tignes and Val d Isere to boost their sales of Euros just as Big Sky, Jackson Hole, Killington, Lake Tahoe and Stowe drive the American Dollar market. You will also see promotions of Swiss Francs (CHF) featuring frequent references to Lago do Lugano and Lake Geneva and Mont-Tremblant in Canada (CAD).

This is a marketing machine that is gearing up for a four month long skiing season and want to capture your pound now before you check out the competition. When you do see sales promoted, and we will let you know as soon as we know of any, you should still make sure to check if that rate is as good a deal as it appears. Some companies sales rates are worst than the every day rates of other providers. It always pays to compare holiday money deals right across the board (no pun intended)

Lithuanian Currency Changing to Euro Currency from the 1st January 2015 0

Lithuanian Currency Changing to Euro Currency from the 1st January 2015

On the 1st January 2015 Lithuania will become the 19th European country to adopt the euro currency as its main and single currency of the European Union. For those looking to change GBP to Litas we would recommend now changing your currency to the euro currency for use as travel money when visiting Lithuania on holiday or for business travel in the New Year.

If for any reason you already have Lithuanian money then it might be possible to change the Lithuanian currency at the post offices and banks in Lithuanian for the first few months of 2015 without incurring any charges whilst the transition of the currency is completed which might also mean that vendors and retailers would also be willing to accept the old Lithuanian currency for a short period of time.

The Lithuanian Litas currency has been pegged to the euro currency exchange rate since 2002 at the rate of 1 Euro = 3.45820 Lithuanian Litas and full adoption of the euro currency will commerce from the 1st January 2015 according to the Bank of Lithuania where you can find more information on their website about how they are integrating the new euro currency in the coming months into the local banking system.

To date there are 18 other countries in Europe who have already adopted the euro currency which includes Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Lativa, Luxembourg, Malta, The Netherlands, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia and Spain. The following infographic which we found on the Debating Europe website shows how people from Estonia felt when they adopted the euro currency back in 2011:

Euro Currency Infographic


If you are looking to buy the euro currency then please come and compare the best UK currency suppliers and exchange rates to change your pounds to Euros before travelling as exchange rates on the high street and airport exchange bureau’s can often be 10% more expensive than online currency exchange rates. Alternatively, if you have just come back from Europe or Lithuania you can use our currency buy back service which allows you to find the best online exchange rates and UK currency suppliers for selling back your euro currency money or old Lithuanian Litas.


Goodbye Cornwall, Hello Bulgaria 0

Post Office Bureau de Change

A friend of mine should be waking up in Bulgaria today on the first day of a new career. She has given up being a bookkeeper down here in deepest darkest Cornwall to study teaching English to foreign learners. One of the best places to study is in Sophia, Bulgaria so that is where she is of to. I have written about travel money and TEfL before and this post is not going to be about that it is a little more basic than that.

As a leaving present I thought it would be nice to just put a few Bulgarian Lev in an envelope witht he intention that she could have something to eat and maybe a drink on us or a trip to to the cinema as we are both movie buffs and I doubt she got to see Fury before she left. Now given my line of work you would not have thought that would be too difficult would you? How wrong you can be!

Firstly it is very difficult to buy small amounts of currency onlline which is our speciality. All the online deals kick in about about £350 to £450 with the best deals at over £700. I am generous but not that generous so online shopping was a non starter.

Bulgaria is prime skiing territory and the local travel agent has all the skiing holiday displays in the window so I thought that would be my first port of call. If they sell holidays to Bulgaria then they are bound to sell the currency to go with it. Wrong! I could order it but it would take a week to arrive. The did kindly try and phone their other branch but no luck their either.

Still clutching to my thought that Bulgaria was one of the most popular places to ski I found myself in Falmouth at the weekend and Falmouth ASDA has a bureau de change. Ah ha(!) I thought. I dutifully asked if they had any Bulgarian Lev but no ASDA do not stock them, they kindly offered me Euros but that wasn’t really going to cut it.

One of the old mainstays is always the post office. Here is Hayle Post Office with its wonderfully limp Foreign Currency banner that inspires such images of sun kissed shores.

Hayle Post OfficeNow I must say that the post office came through and it only took them 3 days to get hold of some Lev. By this time I was picking up the Lev on Thursday afternoon and the last time I was going to see Suzanne was on the Friday morning, there is nothing like cutting it fine!

In the end I got my currency and everything worked out fine. If you are interested the rate I was offered was 2.2BGN to the pound and on the day the best rate on the site was 2.4BGN so that is nearly 10% below market value but 2.2BGN to the pound was better than no Lev at all. What I was surprised at was how long providers needed to order currency in. I am used to currency arrivin within 36hrs by special delivery but most places I tried only placed one order for currency a week and if you missed it then you would have to wait another week to place your order and then wait for it to arrive in the store after that.

So the moral of the story is, if you are going to buy on the high street then seriously thing 2 weeks in advance to make sure you get your currency.

Finally, Good Luck Suzanne and rememer you are their to study, you are not on holiday!

The Euro is coming to the UK 3


I saw this today and I had to take the photo. If more shops start to do this how long will it be until it is the ‘norm’ to carry Euros in your purse or wallet?

You may need to click to get the bigger image but look for the orange sign in the shop window.

Dragons Hoard shop window

Try and read the orange sign in the shop window. (click for a larger image.)

 Travel Insurance Terms and Jargon 0


This is Part three of a four part series on Travel insurance and covers Travel Insurance Terms and Jargon to start from the beginning you can look at part one – Travel Insurance

Personal liability insurance: This covers any expenses you may suffer if you cause an accident or damage and you are being held responsible. The level of cover often runs to a £1,000,000 for cover potential litigation settlements should you be sued.

Personal accident cover – disability and death: This is not the amount you will be paid should you be injured on holiday. This is a single one off payment made to you should you be permanently disabled.

Cover for stolen, lost or damaged possessions: You will find many levels of cover under this category varying from £250 to over £1000. Categories will include cash, electronic items, jewellery or cameras. Make sure that the levels of cover are adequate and reflect your own belongings and the cost to replace them. You should report losses to the local Police within 24 hours and you should retain any proof of notification such as a crime number that you are given.

Note: All insurance policies say that you must take care of your belongings at all times. If you don’t, the policy may not pay out.

Lost baggage on flights: Unless all your luggage contents were brand new and you have receipts for it you will not get the full value of your luggage back from the airline if they lose your bags. If the airline cannot find your bags after 21 days they will decide how much they think it is worth and that is what you will receive. This is often based upon their legal obligation to pay a fixed amount per kilo, not the value of the items themselves. You will get significantly more claiming through your travel insurance than you will through your airline.

Legal expenses cover: This covers your legal expenses should you need to pursue another person for damages or compensation. This is increasingly important as the legal aid scheme becomes harder to access.

Financial protection for holidays

If you book your holiday though a travel agent as opposed to booking everything piece meal yourself you have significantly more protection should things go wrong. If you had booked separate train tickets to the airport, flights, hotels and ski passes and your airline goes bust then the hotel simply doesn’t care, you booked it and it was your responsibility to get there. The same is true for your train tickets and skiing. Book the same holiday through a travel agent and they have a responsibility to get you there and provide you with the holiday they sold to you. If the travel agent goes bust while you are away then that is when a number of trade bodies will step in and get you home safely.

Book your foreign holiday through a reputable travel company

Reputable travel agents and holiday providers should be a member of a number of trade bodies these include:

  • an Air Travel Organisers Licence (ATOL).
  • the Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA)
  • the Association of Bonded Travel Organisers Trust (ABTOT)
  • the Association of Independent Tour Operators (AITO)
  • Bonded Coach Holidays (BCH)
  • or the Federation of Tour Operators (FTO)

Member ship of these bodies means that the actual holiday provider holds a suitable insurance policy and a protection scheme or trust fund for any payments you make in advance. This means that if they go bankrupt your deposit is not used to pay their creditors rather than being returned to you. The actual financial protection can vary from provider to provider so you should check what financial protection applies to your travel arrangements. You will also have your travel insurance as a back up so you do not have to wait for the bankruptcy hearing before getting your deposit back

In addition to all of the above as a UK citizen if you booked with a UK travel agent what is called a package holiday then you are protected in law by the Package Travel Regulations, which give consumers special protection should things go wrong or if conditions change after the booking has been made.

Air Travel Organiser’s Licensing

ATOL is a consumer protection scheme for air holidays and flight, managed by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). The scheme protects you from losing money or being stranded abroad when a travel firm goes out of business. It is a legal requirement that all travel firms that sell air holidays and flights in the UK must hold an ATOL, which is only issued after a firm has met the CAA’s criteria. Licensed travel firms must also contribute to a financial protection fund managed by the Air Travel Trust (ATT). In the event of an ATOL travel firm’s failure, the CAA uses the fund to ensure people abroad are able to finish their holidays and fly home, while those unable to travel are able to receive a refund. ATOL is the only scheme for flights and air holidays sold by travel firms in the UK.

When you are making your holiday booking the travel company should clearly display their ATOL number (License number). You should make sure this number is obvious on thier website and/or in brochures, and when you book, the ATOL holder or their agent must give you an ATOL Certificate confirming you are ATOL protected immediately when you pay any money (even a deposit) for an air holiday or flight. The certificate should include the name of the licensed firm you’ve booked with, their ATOL number and details of what is protected. You should take these documents with you when you travel.

You will not be protected by ATOL if you just buy a scheduled flight and receive an airline ticket or other airline confirmation within 24 hours of payment such as when you book direct and pay an airline direct.

Travelling without travel insurance infographic 0

Travelling without travel insurance infographic

Many of you would have already been on holiday this year what with the summer coming to a close now, but did you take out travel insurance and if not did you run into any medical problems whilst overseas on holiday?

We have found a very interesting infographic which Asda Money produced with regards to the real cost of travelling without travel insurance and what hospitals could charge if you required some serious medical treatment whilst on holiday overseas in Europe or America:

Travelling without travel insurance

Despite that 37% of people can’t afford travel insurance; it is still quite shocking that 43% of people from the survey didn’t even have a European Health Insurance Card for their siblings’ which is free from the NHS.

The European Health Insurance Card from the NHS is free to apply for although it only covers you in specific European countries and not for all medical treatment. None the less the European Health Insurance Card is still very useful as it can assist in obtaining medical treatment cheaper and in some cases for free which is billed back to the NHS on your behalf.

The European Health Insurance Card will only cover you if you need some basic treatment and therefore buying travel insurance that covers all your family in the countries you are travelling to is very important.

The FCO (Foreign & Commonwealth Office) run a campaign called ‘Know Before You Go’ which provides more information on travel insurance and all the other basic requirements that you and your family will need when going overseas on holiday. The FCO always advise that you obtain your EHIC card and take out full comprehensive travel insurance and last of all make sure that you have readily available money just in case either the EHIC card or travel insurance doesn’t cover your specific medical treatment.

If you are looking to buy travel insurance please visit our Holiday Extras section on the website where you can compare travel insurance for your overseas holiday. If you have just back from holiday and you have left over currency then please visit our currency buy back website which allows you to compare all the best left over travel money suppliers in the UK.

What currency is used in Poland 0

What currency is used in Poland

Question: What currency is used in Poland

Answer: The local currency used in Poland is the Polish Zloty

More Information:

If you are travelling to Poland then the current local currency is the Polish Zloty which has been around since the middle ages. In more recent times the currency has gone through changes especially in the early 1990’s when inflation was high and the currency underwent redenomination which meant that 10,000 old zlotych became one polish zloty.

Over 400,000 British citizens travel to Poland every year and the majority of travellers take between five hundred and six hundred GBP converted into Polish Zloty currency cash with them. Due to the expansion of the Euro currency over the years Poland will join the Euro currency in 2015 or 2016, but politically this is still undecided and may also prove difficult due to the recent crises in Ukraine which has forced the Polish Zloty currency to decrease against the GBP, and the Euro this year giving visitors more for their money.

Despite this the Polish tourism board have been conducting new television adverts to help promote the country and how far it has come in recent years. If you plan on travelling to Poland for a holiday trip or business trip, then you are advised to use the local Polish Zloty currency as using the Euro will be difficult as most retailers and vendors do not accept the Euro currency in Poland. If you do use the Euro and find a retailer that accepts the currency the exchange rates will be very poor and it is most likely that your change will be given in Polish Zloty currency anyway.

If for any reason you come back from Poland with left over Polish Zloty currency you can always use our currency buy back service which compares all the buy-back suppliers in the UK which enables you to get the best deal possible on left over travel money. Going to Poland for a holiday or business travel? Why not compare the best exchange rates and suppliers for the Polish Zloty and if you have any further questions on currency please visit the compare holiday money forum to ask our currency experts about your questions.

Travel insurance buying tips 0


This is the second installment of a four part series on travel insurance and covers travel insurance tips. To start reading from the first part please take a look at part one – travel incurance

First if you are traveling in or through Europe (European Economic Area) then make sure you have a current EHIC. This is free from the NHS so DO NOT PAY for an EHIC. The genuine website is here .

It may be cheaper to have an annual policy than to buy multiple single trip policies in the same year. Make sure to use a comparison service to get a wide range of quotes. Nearly all the comparison services online use the same policy database making them give almost identical results. Don’t be swayed purely by price. The lower the price the less cover you have or the more likely your claim will be rejected.

If you are traveling in a group try and buy a policy that covers everyone. The more you buy at once the cheaper it often is but more importantly if you all have separate policies and one of you cannot travel for any reason the rest of the group will not be able to cancel the holiday and get your money back. If you have a single policy for everyone, in the same situation you could all cancel and get a full refund.

Tip: Take as much care of your property as if it were uninsured. If the insurer feels you contributed to the loss they may not pay out.

Cancelling or cutting your holiday short

There are countless reasons why you may have to cancel or abandon your holiday. A good quality policy should cover you for at least accident, illness, family bereavement, pregnancy (unknown when you buy the policy), jury service or witness summons, home emergency: fire, storm or flood, burglary, redundancy, strikes and extreme weather that affects the departure of flights and ships including volcanoes. You should ensure your policy will refund not only the cost of your holiday but other associated expenses such as excursions you have booked and prepaid and additional travel costs such as trains home or overnight accommodation if needed.

Food poisoning

This is one of the most common reasons for holiday illness. I fyou have travel insurance you can use the legal expenses element to try and claim compensation but if you don’t have that cover then you can use a ‘no win, no fee’ solicitor in this circumstance. Obviously this only applies if you did not cook the food yourself! ‘No win, No fee’ can also be used for any situation where someone elses action or lack of action caused you to become ill or injured. So if a pool was not cleaned properly and your children then get ear infections… and so on.

We have also put together some tips for travellers who want to go down this road. This should increase your chance to obtain compensation for your claim.

Collect as much evidence as possible about the hygiene standards, the quality of food and the general cleanliness of your hotel and resort as long as this is relevant to your claim.

Make a note of anyone else who is also ill and try and get contact details for them.

Make sure that your travel companies representative and hotel are aware of your illness during your stay and that you have witnesses of your condition.

Obtain the relevant evidence from any doctors or nurses that you see and ask for copies of all the forms you sign or are shown. If you cannot get copies then take photographs of them on your phone.

Keep a record your symptoms and discuss them with your doctor at home as soon as possible when you return.

Just remember that suing someone because your holiday was spoiled is not a replacement for travel insurance and if anything having the legal expenses element of the insurance means that you are not dependant on convincing a ‘no win, no fee’ solicitor to take your case.

School holidays during term time infographic 0


Following a recent clamp down by the government last year on the reasons why parents take their children out of school during school term time, we have come across a new infographic which goes into the debate about parents taking children out of school during school term time, rather than during the standard authorised school holidays. Please see below the school holidays during term time infographic from Travel Zoo which was published on Travel Weekly last month:

School holidays during term time infographic

One of the most surprising statistics from the school holidays during term time infographic was the 80% increase in the cost of flights between the dates of when private schools break up compared to when the public schools break up for school holidays.

We would be interested to know how many of our customers have taken their children out of school this year during term time and, when they did, how much do they think they saved in terms of the overall cost of the holiday, including travel spending money, compared to if they had taken their children out of school during the authorised school holiday calendar.

We would like to hear your comments and feedback by using the Facebook comment option at the bottom of this blog post. If you are looking to save money on your next holiday why not sign up to our special offers email newsletter where you will receive holiday discounts and offers on buying cheap currency for your next family holiday abroad whether it is during the school term time or not!

Best credit card to use abroad 0

Best credit card to use abroad

Following our exclusive blog article last month for the best debit card to use abroad Andrew Hagger from Money Comms has kindly put together another comparison table for the best credit card to use abroad with detailed figures on the fees that the credit card suppliers charge every time you either use the card for a transaction or cash machine withdrawal when you are abroad on holiday or for a business travel trip.

When you compare both the best debit card to use abroad and the best credit card to use abroad comparison tables you with notice that there are many more credit cards available, however, the majority of the credit cards are actually more expensive to use than your bank debit card. For example, if I used a Co-operative credit card in comparison with a Co-operative debit card I would be worse off. Please see below the best credit card to use abroad comparison table which is correct as of the 10th July 2014 so that you can compare your bank debit card with your credit card supplier’s charges and whether you would be worse off:

Best credit card to use abroad

Using our credit cards for transactions is a common thing of today’s cashless society and quite often people will go abroad with the view that it is much easier to either use your debit card or credit card for transactions, but what these comparison tables show us is that using your debit or credit card abroad is still quite expensive especially if you are carrying out many small transactions. It will of course depend on the type of holiday you have booked, so for example, with an full inclusive holiday you might not need to take so much spending money with you when compared to a half board or self catering holiday where you will be out and about spending money in the local area more often.

Just to give you an example which surprised me following my recent holiday to Crete this summer. I went on holiday for one week on a half board basis taking with me euro currency cash only. I didn’t use my debit card or credit card abroad as I knew that my Co-operative debit card would be more expensive for me to use every day whilst on holiday. I used my euro’s currency cash to pay for drinks and lunch in the hotel, for local busses, shopping at the local shops, paying for excursions and just general spending whilst I was out and about.

If I had used my debit card or credit card for every transaction I would have no doubt carried out at least four or five transactions per day which would have cost me a fair amount in the transaction fees or withdrawal fees every day. This is not to mention the exchange rates that banks or credit card suppliers will use to convert your currency back into British Pounds and this will depend on what type of card you have and whether it is a Visa or MasterCard. Not only is it still cheaper to take currency cash, but it does make it easier to pay for things with local suppliers when you are out and about. For example, local buses, taxis, food markets, gift shops and tipping staff at your local restaurant or café.

In conclusion if you are using your debit or credit card abroad then using it every day for card transactions or cash machine withdrawals will leave you worse off in comparison to shopping for your currency cash in advance. By purchasing your travel money in advance this gives you the added option of comparing currency suppliers and exchange rates. This allows you to have more control over your budgeting and the cost of your travel money. But we would always suggest having your debit or credit card as a backup just in case you under estimate your holiday spending money or you have an emergency. In the future we hope to provide more information to our customers on how much to budget for your holiday for each country and currency location.

If you are looking to buy currency or compare exchange rates for your holiday please use our currency comparison table which allows you to compare all of the top UK currency suppliers and the best exchange rates for your travel money. If you come back from your holiday with left over or unused currency then you can either keep it for your next holiday or sell back your currency by using our sister website Currency Buy Back which again allows you to compare all of the best buy back exchange rates and top UK buy back currency suppliers.

All NEW Forums! Why not ask our community your travel money questions? The Compare Holiday Money Forum