Paying for your Travel Money

Most UK travel money suppliers allow you to pay for your currency in a number of different ways. The payment method you choose is important because it affects whether or not you pay any extra fees during checkout, and also whether you are financially protected in the unlikely event that something goes wrong with the supplier.

Payment methods vary from supplier to supplier, but you can use our travel money comparisons to filter suppliers based on the payment methods they accept. The most common payment methods are:

In this article, we’ll take a look at each payment method in more detail and compare the advantages and disadvantages of each.

Bank Transfer

Bank transfers are one of the most popular payment methods for online orders. If you choose to pay by bank transfer, you don’t pay during checkout but will instead be emailed payment instructions which contain the supplier’s bank details and the reference you need to give when making the payment. It is your responsibility to transfer the funds into the supplier’s bank account after you have placed your order. Most suppliers require you to make the payment on the same day that you place your order, otherwise your order may be cancelled.

The vast majority of bank transfers go smoothly, but they can be a bit fiddly. Some of the most common mistakes people make when paying by bank transfer are: not transferring the full amount (for example, by forgetting to add on the pence), or by giving the wrong (or no) payment reference. If you forget to send the full amount you can either make another bank transfer to balance out the missing amount, or the supplier might alter the amount of currency they give you according to what you paid. If you use the wrong payment reference; this rarely causes any problems but might delay the shipping of your order by a day or two because suppliers have to wait until all payments for the day have been accounted for before they can match your missing payment up to your order.

Another issue that can crop up with bank transfers is blocked payments. Sometimes, banks will stop a bank transfer from going through if they deem it ‘suspicious’. This is becoming increasingly common, especially as banks rely on automated systems to detect patterns of unusual activity on an account. If you suddenly send hundreds or thousands of pounds to another account that you have not paid before, the payment might be flagged as suspicious and the bank will block it until you have confirmed that the transaction is legitimate (which usually involves a quick phone call to your bank). If your payment is blocked, your bank will usually notify you and ask you to contact them to get it unblocked.

Bank transfers are typically processed within 1-2 hours, and in most cases the funds will be sent instantaneously. There are no additional fees for paying by bank transfer, but banks view transfers as a ‘cash transaction’ which means you are not protected and you may not be able to recover any money you send to a supplier if something goes wrong. For this reason, we advise customers to do their own due diligence before paying by bank transfer, and we recommend using an alternative payment method if one is available.

Example transaction

If you bought £1000 worth of Euros at a rate of 1.2000, you would pay the supplier:

£1000 / 1.2000 = £833.33

There are no additional fees for paying by bank transfer so the total cost to you would be £833.33.

Advantages Disadvantages
Widely accepted No financial protection
Free to send Payment can be blocked by the bank
Immediate payment Can be fiddly; easy to make mistakes

Debit Card

Debit cards are an easy and convenient method of paying for travel money and they don’t incur any additional bank charges for you as a customer. Payments by debit card are made during checkout in the same manner as any other online purchase so you don’t need to do anything else after completing your order. It can take a few days for the amount to be debited from your account so bear this in mind when making your payment in case you go overdrawn.

All debit card payments are currently processed by VISA who will protect your funds in the event of fraud under their Product and Service Rules (11.10.10 Dispute Condition 13.9: Non-Receipt of Cash or Load Transaction Value).

Example transaction

If you bought £1000 worth of Euros at a rate of 1.2000, you would pay the supplier:

£1000 / 1.2000 = £833.33

There are no additional fees for paying by debit card so the total cost to you would be £833.33.

Advantages Disadvantages
Financial protection against fraud Payment can take a few days to leave your account (although this won’t affect your order)
Free to use
Widely accepted

Credit Card

Credit cards are the safest way to pay for travel money. They offer the same ease and convenience as a debit card, plus full financial protection for purchases above £100 and below £30,000.

The downside is they can incur a range of additional fees and bank charges because most card issuers classify travel money as a ‘cash advance’ which is the same as withdrawing cash. A typical card will charge around 2.5% of the amount withdrawn plus interest of around 25% APR variable (see the example transaction below for an idea of what this means). Credit card fees and charges can vary significantly between issuers and some credit cards are much better than others so it’s worth checking with your issuer before making a purchase.

Credit cards are also not as widely accepted as bank transfers or debit cards because they incur additional costs to the supplier. A quick snapshot of our travel money partners at the time of writing shows that just 60% (13/22) of travel money suppliers accept payment by credit card. Use the payment methods filter on our travel money comparison pages to check the payment methods accepted by each supplier.

Example transaction

If you bought £1000 worth of Euros at a rate of 1.2000, you would pay the supplier:

£1000 / 1.2000 = £833.33

Assuming a typical credit card cash advance fee of 2.5%, your bank would charge you:

£833.33 x 2.5% = £20.83

Your bank would also charge interest of around 25% APR of the total amount now owed (£833.33 + £20.83 = £854.16). Assuming you paid the outstanding amount off in full in 31 days, the interest you pay would be:

((25% / 365 days) x £854.16 x 31 days) / 100 = £18.14

So after bank charges and interest, the total cost to you would be £833.33 + £20.83 + £18.14 = £872.30.

Advantages Disadvantages
Full financial protection Not as widely accepted as other payment methods
Quick and convenient Can incur extra bank charges and interest

Cash

Cash cannot be used to pay for home delivery orders. However, a growing number of suppliers are now accepting cash payments for orders that are reserved online for in-store collection. This is ideal if you’ve left it too late for home delivery or if you would rather pick your currency up in person at the airport. You can find your nearest currency supplier using our Click & Collect service – but bear in mind that not all suppliers will allow you to pay by cash even if you order online. Also, you may be given a much lower rate if you turn up at the kiosk unannounced so be sure to use our Click & Collect service to reserve your currency in advance if possible.

Cash payments over-the-counter are straightforward and do not incur any additional fees, although you might be asked to provide some kind of photographic identification if you are purchasing a large amount of currency (typically more than £1000). Remember that walking around with a large amount of cash can make you a target for criminals so make sure you take all necessary precautions to keep yourself and your money safe.

Example transaction

If you bought £1000 worth of Euros at a rate of 1.2000, you would pay the supplier:

£1000 / 1.2000 = £833.33

There are no additional fees for paying by cash so the total cost to you would be £833.33.

Advantages Disadvantages
Immediate transaction Cannot be used for home delivery
Guaranteed to receive your currency Carrying large amounts of cash can be dangerous
No additional fees You may get a lower rate if you don’t reserve in advance

We hope this guide has provided some useful information on the advantages and disadvantages of the different payment methods available for purchasing travel money, but remember that there is no substitute for doing your own due diligence and using all of the information available before you part with your hard-earned cash.

If you have any feedback on this guide or any general questions, please comment below or get in with us touch using our contact page.

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