How to get the most from your money when travelling in the EU

eu money saving


So you’ve booked your holiday in the European Union, you’ve scoured the internet for the best deals and managed to get the most affordable hotel. Now it all comes down to how you are going to spend your money when you are travelling.

If you use the wrong cards, exchange cash at the wrong places it can cost you a fortune and add hundreds of pounds to your holiday.

Spend the right way however, and you can be quids in.

Here are our top tips on how to spend well and get the most out of your money when travelling in the EU.


Always pre-order your cash before you go travelling and never exchange it at the last minute at the airport. You’ll get the very worst exchange rate here as you are a captive audience and this is your last port of call before you fly off.

It is also better to exchange your pounds for euros, lira, dollars or dong whilst you are in the UK, rather than when you get to your destination. There may be a few better rates when you land but you have no way of knowing.

Use TravelMoneyMax to compare from over 40 exchange bureaux.


If you already have a credit card then you might want to check whether it adds a sterling exchange fee when you are abroad.  If it does, then look to get one that doesn’t, there are plenty about, such as:

  • Halifax Clarity MasterCard (18.9% rep APR)
  • MBNA Everyday Plus (7.4% rep APR)
  • Aqua Reward MasterCard (34.9% rep APR)

Remember the golden rule when it comes to credit cards to avoid interest charges is to always pay in full at the end of each month.


If you are worried about keeping a watch on your spending you might want to consider a specialist overseas credit card. These are pre-loaded with cash before you go, you then use it like a debit card.

If you lose the card your money is protected. The rate of exchange is calculated on the day you load it, not when you spend, so you can be quite canny with exchange rates.

Be careful though as some places don’t accept them, such as petrol stations and car hire firms.

Best overseas cards are Revolut and WeSwap.


If you can avoid using your normal debit card from your bank then please do so. Some of the major banks, Halifax, Lloyds, NatWest, TSB have horrendous rates when spending abroad.

There are some banks however, that do offer better deals. You do have to switch your bank to get them though. But if you were thinking of switching anyway, this might be a good time to do so.

The best banks offering free overseas spending is Norwich & Peterborough. Their Gold Classic account is open to everyone and has a load-free worldwide debit card with no ATM fees either.

You do have to keep in a minimum of £5,000 in it, or pay in £500 per month or you get a £5 monthly fee. If you only want to use the card and don’t think you’ll use the bank account, one way to get around the £500 is to put it in every month from your normal account and then have a standing order to take it out and back into your normal account.

Another good bank is the fairly new Metro Bank, located in London and the South East, you do have to go in branch to open an account. There’s no foreign exchange loading or cash withdrawal fees on its debit card. Otherwise you pay 1.9% load fee and £1 for ATM withdrawals.

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