Returning holidaymakers pay price of poor exchange

1 Apr 2004

Research by foreign exchange specialist Travelex has found that British holiday makers returning to the UK are losing as much as £15 each because of the commission fees and high rates some exchange providers charge to change holiday money back into sterling.

Travelex has researched the average amount of currency that travellers bring back from the most popular holiday destinations and the buy-back deals offered by the leading foreign exchange outlets. The results show that excessive rates and commission charges are costing holidaymakers returning from the Eurozone, Turkey, Cyprus, Australia, Canada and the US.

Those returning from long haul trips are the worst hit. According to Travelex the average amount of money brought back from the US is $211 and it can cost almost £16 to get it changed into sterling. Travellers coming home from Australia will bring back on average $262 yet it can cost between £14.50 and £11.84 just to get it changed into pounds and pence.

Britons visiting the popular tourist destinations in the Eurozone are also losing out, paying up to £14.36 to change their Euros back. Tourists coming home from Turkey and Cyprus also need to beware, paying almost £12.00 and £13.00 respectively to change their money with some financial exchange providers.

Buy-back rates are determined by conditions in the financial markets which are constantly changing, consequently travellers can never be certain what it is going to cost them to change their money back. The one certainty is that consumers will be worse off when they change it back into sterling.

To avoid the charges for changing money back on return, Travelex is urging holidaymakers to fix the rate of exchange when they obtain their holiday money. This can be done using buy back guarantees, such as Travelex’s buyback plus, which ensures that foreign currency can be changed back into sterling, commission free at the rate it was bought. This protects travellers from currency fluctuations and excessive buy back rates charged by some foreign exchange services. However, Travelex warns that although many buy back offers can still cost consumers when it comes to change the money back.

Robbie Dery, Head of European Retail Marketing, Travelex commented: “There are huge variations in the amount of money it can cost simply to change your holiday money back into sterling. We want people to be aware of the risks but also aware that there are steps they can take to protect themselves.”

Travelex’s research of leading buy back offers:

    Ave amount brought back Amount in sterling received in exchange - Transaction date: 11/08/03
Travelex Post Office Thomas Cook  Lloyds TSB Co-op Barclays
Australian dollar 262 £112.85 £100.22 £100.48 £101.01 £98.35 £100.99
Canadian dollar 231 £108.59 £96.53 £96.97 £96.87 £94.34 £96.94
Cyprus pound 81 £102.09 £90.23 £91.97 £92.05 £89.61 £92.29
Euro 161 £118.79 £107 £107.46 £107.05 £104.43 £107.22
Turkish lira 148,885,000 £70.13 £61.62 £62.87 £61.68 £61.22 £63.26
US dollars 211 £136.65 £123.46 £123.46 £123.56 £121.05 £123.53

Travelex’s buy back guarantee is available for £3.50 from any branch nationwide, or over the internet when purchasing money online at For further information call 0845 300 1100.

Travelex offers the following advice for anyone buying currency for a holiday: 

  1. Ask the right questions: Find out if there is a commission charge for changing the money back. Compare this to other providers.
  2. Do your homework: Shop around to get the best deal. Buy back rates vary enormously so it’s worth taking the effort to find out who is offering what.
  3. Think about where you’re going: Consider how much the currency is likely to fluctuate while you are away – short haul short breaks are not likely to see a massive shift unless you are travelling to a country that has a particularly volatile economy.
  4. Lock the price: Consider the option of taking out a guarantee to ensure you secure the value of your currency by not exposing it to fluctuating rates.
  5. Look online: Travelex offers a rate tracker on its website that will alert you when your chosen currency reaches your desired exchange rate.

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