An Accountant’s Guide to Travel Money

Despite what media and cartoons would have you believe, accountants aren’t just robotic ‘bean counters’. They are normal, honest people. Yet, beneath the caricatures of a glum face and well-ironed suit, there is an air of truth to the stereotypes. Every single accountant hates it when people overpay on things they don’t need to. An obvious example is tax, but it also goes beyond that. So, here is An Accountant’s Guide to Travel Money.

Travel money is something that so many of us regularly overpays for, so let’s take a look at how this happens — and how it can be avoided.  

How Can You Overpay For Travel Money?

There is a nifty site that those in the currency exchange business use called

Here, you can see live information on the exact rate of travel money for all major currencies. But, when you are looking to compare travel money, this site isn’t going to give you an accurate idea of rates.


Because if you check the likes of Tesco, M&S and Post Office, you’ll find that the travel money prices on offer vary hugely compared to that of XE. Unfortunately, travel money exchange isn’t a service, it’s a business — a business anyone can get involved inCompanies that sell travel money do so at a marked-up price to increase their revenue. And, to make things more confusing, not all companies have the same exchange rates.

Going to your local currency exchange is unlikely to mean you get the best deals. It becomes all too easy to overpay for travel money when everybody offers a slightly different rate and varying deals or offers.

However, trawling the web until you find the cheapest travel money deal isn’t the only way to save money.


How Do I Avoid Overpaying on Travel Money?

Currency exchange exists in a number of forms. The most common of which, cash exchange, can be done at your typical exchange branch. However, this is unlikely to be cheapest method of getting your travel money. When you compare travel money, consider other methods of currency exchange, such as credit cards and travel money cards. Both are easily available and both have their own perks.

Cash may be the most common, traditional way, but is it the cheapest way? Our chartered accountants have put together this handy infographic to help answer exactly that.


An Accountant's Guide to Travel Money Infographic by Russell Smith Chartered Accountants


A Final Travel Money Tip

The infographic touches on a very important point: you shouldn’t take more travel money in cash form than you need.
Why? Because:

  1. You will always pay more for cash exchange than the currency is actually worth
  2. Exchange rates from Euro, AUD, USD and other popular currencies back to GBP are notoriously low.

Let’s say you return home with $100 after an extremely well-budgeted trip to New York.

To get that you will have paid around £75 — give or take the inevitable exchange rate fluctuations since this post was published. If you were to exchange it back in the same place you got your dollars, you would see a return of £65.

That’s quite a drop.

The reason currency exchange companies do this is simple. They know you don’t want useless currency lying around, so you are willing to trade it for a lower sum. It is pretty cheeky, but it can be avoided. If you are extremely adept at budgeting, or just don’t know exactly how much travel money to take and you end up with some left over, take it down to a currency exchange trader before you fly home.


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