Wednesday, 31 July 2013

British travellers increase the amount of travel money taken on holiday

Our figures show that the amount of travel money people buy for a holiday abroad is rising. In June 2011 the average travel money purchase was £604.34, whilst in June 2012 this figure rose to £646.37. Last month (June 2013) the average travel money purchase was £894.71 a staggering 31.46% larger than the amount purchased in the same month last year.

A recent survey by Halifax reported that 60% of British travellers buy currency in advance of their holiday to pay for items abroad. They found that people did not want to use credit and debit cards abroad because of the fees and costs involved. A mere 15% confirmed that they made withdrawals with a debit card whilst abroad and only 14% of those questioned used mainly cards or hard cash whilst overseas.  

Despite the security risks of carrying money over using a credit/debit or currency card people still prefer having cold hard cash in their travel wallets. British holidaymakers need to be aware of the risks involved in carrying a large amount of cash especially if they are travelling to a developing country or visiting an area where pick pocketing is a problem.

Travel Money Safety
  • Don't carry large amounts of cash when visiting the beach, a market or on a night out.
  • Store money in your hotel safe.
  • Keep money in a purse under your clothes or in a money belt on your front instead of in a handbag or pocket that pick pockets can easily access.
  • Watch out for distractions.... The little girl selling Roses in Rome may look sweet but she could be being used as a distraction to take your attention whilst an experienced thief steals your money.
  • Store money on a currency card. Exchange rates are agreed at the time of loading money on to the card and many providers offer free withdrawals from ATM machines. A prepaid currency card can also be used to pay for goods and services in most shops that accept debit and credit cards.

Travellers can use our travel money comparison table and our prepaid currency card comparison table to compare the UK's leading currency providers in order to find the best exchange rate.

Thursday, 18 July 2013

Spanish property prices have fallen up to 70%

Brits are being lured back into the Spanish property market where prices in some areas have fallen by up 70 percent. An article in the Telegraph recently gave examples of a four bedroom "luxury seafront villa" close to two airports reduced from 2.1 million Euros to 650,000 Euros. Another villa in the same article in Mosa Trajectum had been reduced from 245,000 Euros to 125,000 Euros.   
An increase in consumer confidence in the UK and a want for guaranteed sunshine is driving this resurgence in the Spanish property market. People can see the value in property being offered at rock bottom prices by Spanish banks desperate to offload the large number of repossessed houses they have on their books.  
Search information provided by RightMove Overseas shows that Spain is currently the most popular prospective destination for a holiday home. Interest in property based in other countries hit badly by the recent financial crisis such as Cyprus have also risen. 
These countries still have their problems but as long as you are financially self sufficient the lifestyle these destinations can offer is incredibly appealing. The culture and climate attract many Brits.
Euro Exchange Rate
Although property prices have fallen by up to 70% the pound Euro rate has also changed dramatically. Before the financial crisis figures supplied by show the average interbank GBP/EUR bid rate in July 2007 was 1.4817 whilst the average GBP/EUR rate for last month was 1.1734 (June 2013).
If we use the property price mentioned above which fell from 245,000 Euros to 125,000 Euros we can see how much the overall cost of purchasing this house in pounds has changed  

 125,000 Euros
245,000 Euros 
 *Figures supplied by
If the property costing 245,000 Euros had been purchased in 2007 at a GBP/EUR rate of 1.4817 it would have cost £165,350.61. After the financial crash and the cost in Euros fell by 49% the actual cost to the UK buyer would have only fallen by 35.57% due to the decrease in value of the pound. The property would cost £106,528.04 in June 2013 £58,822.57 cheaper than the initial cost. 
Living costs
If you are considering buying a property within the Eurozone, the GBP/EUR rate will have a huge impact on your disposable income whilst you are abroad. Unfortunately a great number of retired expats have recently had to return to  the UK as they could no longer afford the lifestyle they had become accustomed to thanks to the decreased value of the pound.

Thursday, 4 July 2013

Which? warns you should avoid buying travel money from the airport

Which? carried out exchange rate research on the main airport bureau de change providers and found that they offered substantially better exchange rates online compared to the rates available at the airport.

Which? warns holidaymakers travelling overseas that "they could lose out on their foreign currency" if they make their exchange at an airport.

Researchers compared exchange rates offered at Gatwick, Heathrow, Luton, Manchester and Stansted over a six week period and found the exchange rates available in the airports were significantly lower than the rates available at the same time online or on the high street.

Airport exchange rates and why you should avoid them
Currency providerAirportAirport average rateOnline average rateDifference

Table supplied by

  1. The rates shown are for £500 worth of euros, taken online and at airports over a six week period between 13 February and 20 March 2013.
From the table above it is possible to see that Moneycorp have the most significant difference between their online and airport exchange rate. Exchanging £500 into Euros with Moneycorp would give you on average 518.42 Euros at the airport or 569.82 Euros if you bought online. That's a whopping 51.40 Euro difference. On BBC's Watchdog show recently they reported on similar findings and contacted many of the currency providers to find out why airport exchange rates are so different to the exchange rates available to customers online. The general response was that the cost of operating within an airport was greater and this had to be reflected in the exchange rates available to customers. However the lack of competition is also likely to be a significant factor. Traveler's arriving at the airport with no foreign currency have no choice but to buy currency from the airport Bureau de change.

How to get a better exchange rate at the airport
It is possible to avoid receiving the poor exchange rate shown on the currency board at the airport bureau. Better online rates are available to customers who reserve/buy online beforehand for airport collection. To secure your online rate you should reserve/buy online at least 24 hours in advance of your flight. Travelex and American Express only require four hours notice for advanced ordering enabling you to place your order on the day of your journey.

Online exchange rates
As well as reserving foreign currency for airport collection you can also buy online for home delivery or arrange to collect your travel money from a local branch days before you travel.
Our travel money comparison table allows you to see who is offering the most competitive exchange rate so that you can be sure to get the best deal.

Although high street exchange rates are generally better than airport rates, to get the very best exchange rate it is always wise to go online and arrange to reserve and collect. The main high street providers such as the Post Office offer better rates online.

Cheaper family holidays as English State Schools allowed to set own term dates.

Plans outlined by the Government to allow British State Schools to set their own term dates could help families to travel on more affordable holidays as they will no longer be restricted to taking the family away over the national six week school summer holiday.

The number of unauthorised absences and fake illness will hopefully be reduced as parents can afford to travel during school holidays.

The Government wants to increase school autonomy and allow individual schools to set their own term dates like academies. The Department of Education reported that "heads and teachers who know their parents and pupils best" should be allowed to decide term dates. There will need to be a certain level of cohesion between local schools to ensure that families with children in different schools still have the same time off together. Both Labour and the current coalition government are both in favour of the new term date flexibility plans which should come into effect from September 2015.

Currently schools can control over the structure of a school day but from September 2015 they will have control over the length of terms and could plan school terms outside of the term dates set by the local authorities. Each school would still be required to operate the minimum 190 school days per year.
The new plans are likely to affect more primary schools as not as many have adopted academy status. Whereas the majority of secondary schools in the UK are now academies and already have greater flexibility on term dates.

Current school term dates make holidays unaffordable
We compared the cost of a family holiday during different school holiday dates. The two secondary schools we used are in Bristol.  John Cabot an Academy that has a shorter summer holiday and an extended two week half term from 19th October until 4th November. Whilst Wellsway Comprehensive school (a non-academy state school) has the standard six week summer break and a one week autumn half term holiday from the 26th October - 3rd November. We looked at the cost of 2 adults and 1 thirteen year old child going abroad during the autumn half term break in each school.

School Holidays
Hotel and Board
John Cabot Academy
2 Adults + 1 Child
19th - 26th October 2013
3 Star All Inclusive
Wellsway School Non-Academy
2 Adults + 1 Child
26th October - 2nd November 2013
3 Star All Inclusive
                                                                                                                        Difference in Cost
*Prices based on 7 nights flying from Gatwick staying at the Hotel Costa Caleta Fuerteventura, board all inclusive taken from on 4th July 2013

From the table above you can see that the family able to travel outside of the holiday dates set by the Local Education Authority (LEA) can save £352.00 on booking the same holiday as the price available to the family restricted by the current non-academy term dates.

Flight Only
School Holidays
Flight Operator
John Cabot Academy
2 Adults + 1 Child
19th - 26th October 2013
Wellsway School Non-Academy
2 Adults + 1 Child
26th October - 2nd November 2013
                                                                                                                        Difference in Cost
*Prices based on return flights from Bristol to Fuerteventura taken from on 4th July 2013

The different in cost was even greater when we looked at flights to Fuerteventura with Easyjet. Flights are more than double the cost for families restricted to travel during current state school holiday dates. The cost of flights for the family able to travel outside of the LEA term dates was £771.00 cheaper. 

With the introduction of individual state schools being able to set their own term dates hopefully more families will be able to travel abroad and enjoy an affordable family holiday.