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Travel Money Options Compared: WeSwap vs Travel Cash, Debit & Prepaid Cards

CustomersYou’re going away. Somewhere nice, we hope? But it can be tough to know what to do, travel money wise. There’s a lot of options: travel cash, your normal bank card and a load of prepaid cardsThen there’s a lot of companies too, WeSwap (that’s us), Tesco, the Post Office, Revolut, Travelex.

Then there’s the jargon. Oh, the jargon! FX, Forex, Mid-market exchange rate, commission, a spread.

It’s hard work figuring out how to get the best deal. So, we’ve put together this blog for you to show you how WeSwap compares with the other options on the market.

If you really want to get to grips with the FX markets, give our Understanding How the Foreign Exchange Market works blog a read.

Travel Cash

If you’re abroad, we all know it’s good to have some cash in your wallet. What some people don’t know is that most companies will change the exchange rate when you’re buying that cash, meaning you rarely get anywhere near the mid-market rate*. All though most companies do this, the price hikes are much larger in certain places (we’re looking at you, airport bureax de change), so the key is to order in advance and scout out the best deals.

If you’re ordering in advance, be wary of delivery charges. These are often added if your order isn’t big enough. Whilst these providers didn’t include a delivery fee for our test order of £1000, many will charge £3-£5 to deliver smaller amounts of less than £500 or so. If you are taking lots of cash with you, make sure you keep it somewhere safe once you arrive at your villa/hotel/canal boat/yurt.

*Also known as the true exchange or the interbank rate, the mid-market rate is the mid-point between the buy and the sell prices of two currencies in the FX market. I.e. the average rate a currency is being bought and then sold at. This tends to be the ‘real’ rate before banks or bureaux add their fees.

GBP – EUR Rate % mark-up over midmarket rate Advertised fees or commission For £1000, you receive Difference
WeSwap 1.136 1% 1% €1135.70
Travelex – Heathrow (walk-in)

 1.04

9.4% 0%

€1004.13

-€ 131.57
Natwest Bank online 1.0965 4.47% 0% €1097.90 -€ 37.80
Marks & Spencer online 1.100 4.17% 0% € 1100.10 -€35.60
Post office online 1.122 2.25% 0% € 1122.10 -€13.60
Tesco online 1.123 2.16% 0% €1122.50 -€13.20
Travelex Delivery 1.116 2.77% 0% €1115.70 -€20

Rates checked 13.11.2018 12:00. The Mid-market rate then was 1.14779. Rates were those quoted on the respective provider websites, at MoneySavingExpert.com, or over the phone.

Debit Cards

In 2016, UK holiday makers spent £26.4 billion using their cards overseas, with travellers making almost 14 transactions every second (via paymenteye.com).

That’s a lot of conversion fees!

Conversion what?

Fees.

Fees?

Fees, yes. Most banks will charge you an extra fee to convert your money when you’re using your debit card abroad.

Debit CardsWeSwap (again, that’s us) only ever charge one small fee when you use the card and that takes place when you make the initial exchange. This will never be more than 2% and these fees will be incorporated into your initial exchange rate.  If you exchange your money in advance using the app it could be as low as 1% (every now and again we’ll even offer free exchanges.

When it comes to withdrawing cash, we get charged if you use an ATM so we do charge for smaller cash withdrawals, but we don’t charge anything for withdrawals over £200. We’ve done the sums to show you what this means in real terms for you, below.

WeSwap Santander debit card Halifax debit Natwest debit Bank of Scotland Barclays debit
Currency conversion fee 1-2% 2.75% 2.99% 2.75% 2.99% 2.75%
Overseas Purchase fee £1.25 £0.50 £0 £0.50 £0
ATM fee Free over £200, or £1.50 1.5% £1.50 2% (min £2) £1.50 £1.50
Example cost of £1000 abroad
2 x £200 withdrawals, 15 x £40 purchases £10 £52.25 £40.04 £35.50 £40.40 £30.50
WeSwap saves you £42.25 £30.04 £25.50 £30.40 £20.50
Example cost of £1000 abroad
4 x £100 withdrawals, 15 x £40 purchases £16 £54.21 £43.40 £35.50 £43.40 £33.50
WeSwap saves you £38.21 £27.40 £19.50 £27.40 £17.50

Card charges checked 13.11.18 on Money Saving Expert.

Prepaid Cards
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Prepaid cards are great: they’re secure (because they’re not linked to your bank), they’re brilliant for budgeting (you can track your spending online or on your mobile) and if you lose one, your funds are protected. But as with any deal, do check the numbers.

WeSwap FairFX Everywhere Card Caxton FX Currency Card Revolut Thomas Cook Travel Money Card
Currency conversion fee 0-2%* 1.4% 2% 0% 1.99%
Application fee £9.95 £0 £5 card fee £0
Load / Reload fee 0% 0% 0% 2.0%
Transaction fee 1.4% £0 (£1.50 domestic ATM charge) £0
ATM fee Free over £200, otherwise £1.50 £1.00 + 1.4% of each transaction £0  Free up to £200 per month. 2% thereafter £1.50
Example cost of £1000 abroad
4 x £200 withdrawals, 5 x £40 purchases £10 £41.95 £20  £17 £46.80
WeSwap saves you £31.95 £10  £7 £36.80
Example cost of £1000 abroad
3 x £200 withdrawals, 10 x £40 purchases £10   £40.95 £20  £13 £45.30
WeSwap saves you   £30.95 £10 £3 £35.30

Card charges checked 13.11.18 on card provider websites.

So there you have it, a long way of saying that we all get more to spend abroad with WeSwap – because we swap your money direct with other travellers. More sangria. More pizza. More happy. That’s people power!

Want to join WeSwap? Sign up for free now.

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Words by WeSwap, the clever way to get travel money that’s up to 10 times cheaper than banks, bureaux or airports.

   

2 Comments

  1. What r u giving pound to the dollar ? I gave a Weswap card but it’s not activated yet. If I come back from the USA with dollars on my card can I use the left over money to shop for goods in GB. Is the app easy to work. I would want to put two thousand pound on my card to b changed into dollars

    1. Hi Maureen, right now our rate is £1 = $1.2907, but because we always use the real exchange rate this changes all the time. Head to our homepage to see our rates at any time, we’ve got a handy calculator. And yep, you can swap your US dollars back and spend here on the WeSwap card too. We think the app is easy to use, and our support team are always here to help you out if you run into any troubles. Just drop us a line at support@weswap.com if you have any questions 🙂

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