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Top foreign currency tips to know

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The flight is booked, the capsule wardrobe packed and you’ve worked out the fastest way to the airport. There’s just one more thing to sort out: how to change your PTA in your host country. Getting the best deal can mean spending less on commission and charges, and more on holiday treats, so here’s a guide to arranging your foreign currency.

When buying local currency in your host country, remember that commission-free doesn’t necessarily equate to the best deal, as fees are likely to have been loaded into the rate, according to www.theguardian.com.

Also, be wary of flat fees and minimum charges; the latter make it more expensive to change small amounts of money, while the former can offer good value if you are changing larger sums of money.

If you do end up buying currency over the counter in your host country, check if your debit card provider will charge an exchange fee. If so, you may want to withdraw cash and use that to pay for your travel money.

Pre-paid cards can offer some advantage. They are easy to use because you simply load them with funds before you go on holiday, then use the card to withdraw cash from ATMs or to make purchases. Nigerian banks now offer them along with some international companies.

If you lose your pre-paid card, you can cancel it or report it stolen, making it a reasonably safe way to carry money. But while some providers do not charge exchange fees, others will charge an initial set-up fee as well as fees on cash withdrawals and even top-up charges. Some pre-paid cards charge “inactivity fees.”

You can buy specialist euro or dollar currency cards, which will be cheaper than using a debit card.

Some pre-paid cards will only allow you to top up face-to-face, while others give you the chance to top up on the phone or on the Internet.

Credit cards offer are good but in general, it’s best to avoid using a credit card to withdraw cash abroad as you may at home.

Watch out for sneaky overseas retailers. Some merchants will offer to convert your bill into your home currency. This is known as “dynamic currency conversion” and will likely result in a higher exchange rate. Always check the bill before paying and make sure you are billed in the local currency.

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