Co-op Travel Money: Foreign Currency Rates & Fees Explained


Planning a getaway? Whether you’re off to a Spanish beach, hitting the slopes in the French Alps, or taking the safari trip of a lifetime, you’ll need some local money to cover your costs while you’re there.

Getting a good deal on your travel money can make all the difference. After all, whether you’re into skiing or sundowners, or just want to bring home a few souvenirs, you want to have plenty of cash available.

Co-op Travel - also known as Co-operative Travel - is the arm of The Midcounties Co-operative Group which deals with all things related to travel. Through Co-op Travel you can arrange a holiday, get travel insurance, and make sure you have all the foreign currency you need for your trip¹.

Here’s all you need to know about foreign currency services from Co-operative Travel.

What products does Co-op Travel offer to get your holiday money sorted?

You have a few options with Co-op Travel, depending on how you want to arrange your travel money. Here’s what you can choose from:

Foreign exchange with Co-op Travel

If you want to get foreign cash for your travels, you can do so with Co-op. You’ll need to either order online, for branch collection, or call into your local branch to buy on the spot. Co-op Travel advice that customers order online, or call the branch in advance to check the availability of the currency needed. If you want something exotic, or are buying currency during the peak holiday period, it may take a day or two to get the order ready².

Cash Passport - prepaid travel money card

An increasingly popular option for travellers is to get a prepaid travel money card such as the Co-op Cash Passport. The Cash Passport is accepted anywhere you see the MasterCard symbol, so you can use it at ATMs and in shops and restaurants wherever you are in the world. You simply load it up in advance, with the currency of the country you’re headed to, and you can spend the money securely when you’re there³.

Because the card isn’t linked to your bank account, it’s a relatively safe option compared to carrying cash or using your usual bank debit card. Even if a thief were to get hold of both your card and your secure PIN number, they couldn’t access your main bank account³. There are various fees and charges you need to consider if you’re thinking of using a Cash Passport, which we cover in more detail below. You’ll pay a fee for ATM withdrawals, for example, and there’s also a charge if your card is inactive for over 12 months⁴.

You can order a Cash Passport online or in a Co-op Travel store - but you need to have a photo ID on hand, like your driving license or passport³.

International Payments with Western Union

Co-op Travel partner with Western Union to offer international payment services⁵. With Western Union, you can make online payments to people based overseas, which can be paid directly to a bank account, or collected from an agent location in local cash. The options available vary depending on where you’re sending money to, and there are fees to pay. There may also be a markup added to the exchange rate used, which can increase the overall costs of the transfer.

If you need to make an international transfer, it’s worth checking out a few different providers before you decide which to use. For payments going direct to your recipient’s bank account, Wise is a great alternative to using Western Union or a traditional bank. Transfers made with Wise are processed using the real, mid-market exchange rate, and just a low upfront fee. This can often mean that they’re cheaper than payments made with other providers.

What are the fees for getting your travel money with Co-op Travel

Here are some of the fees you need to consider if you’re thinking of using Co-operative Travel for your holiday money.

Service Co-op Travel fee
Foreign currency in cash - order online or in branch To find out the fees for the currency you need, you'll have to either call into a branch or make an online enquiry. The quote you're offered could include: Commission fees + exchange rate markup
Cash Passport - costs to receive your card, and load/reload the balance Check in branch if you intend to buy and load up your card in a store Online or telephone loading is free in any supported currency, except GBP. If you want to reload your GBP cash passport online or via phone, this will cost 2% with a minimum of £3 ⁴
Cash Passport - minimum load amount⁴
  • USD 50
  • EUR 40
  • GBP 30
  • AUD 50
  • CAD 50
  • NZD 60
  • ZAR 500
Cash Passport - ATM withdrawal fee⁴
  • USD 2.50
  • EUR 2
  • GBP 1.50
  • AUD 3.50
  • CAD 3.25
  • NZD 4
  • ZAR 25
Cash Passport - Maximum amount you can withdraw from ATM, in 24 hours⁴
  • USD 800
  • EUR 700
  • GBP 500
  • AUD 3500
  • CAD 3000
  • NZD 4000
  • ZAR 8500
Cash Passport - Monthly inactivity fee (card not used for 12 months)⁴
  • USD 3.50
  • EUR 3
  • GBP 2
  • AUD 4.50
  • CAD 4
  • NZD 5.25
  • ZAR 35

What is the exchange rate you’ll get with Co-op Travel

Because Co-op travel encourage customers to enquire in advance before purchasing foreign currency, the exchange rates and commission charges which are used are not published online. Instead you’ll have to call a branch or submit an online enquiry to find out the offer available for your particular transaction².

When you can see the upfront costs, and the exchange rate given by Co-op Travel on the currency you want to buy, it’s worth comparing the deal with a few other providers to make sure it’s the best available. Check the exchange rate against the mid-market exchange rate, which you can find easily online with a google search of your currency pair. It’s a good idea to do this because many foreign exchange providers don’t use the mid-market rate when switching currency for holiday makers. Instead they add a markup to the rate used, and pocket the difference. That means less spending money for you.

Wise always use the real, mid-market exchange rate on all currency conversion, which could get you a better deal. More on that in a moment.

Can you order travel money with Co-op Travel online?

Co-op Travel allow customers to order money in advance online or by phone. This is a good idea, especially in peak periods, as not all foreign currencies are available for on the spot conversion in branch. Send an enquiry email, and you’ll receive a quote from Co-op confirming the exchange rate, commission, and when you would be able to collect your foreign currency from a local branch.

Does Co-op Travel offer a travel money card?

Co-op offers a prepaid travel money card known as a Cash Passport in pounds, euros, US, Australian, New Zealand and Canadian dollars and South African rand. This card is linked to the MasterCard network, and can be used in MasterCard ATMs, and in any store which shows the MasterCard symbol. All you need to do is top up the card before you travel, and you can use it to withdraw local currency when you’re away. This is typically more secure than carrying cash, and more convenient than using travellers cheques³. However, there are fees and charges you should know about if you choose a Cash Passport⁴.

ATM withdrawals made using a Cash Passport will incur a fee, which varies according to the currency of the card, and there are minimum and maximum levels which dictate how much you can load, hold, and spend on the card in any period of time⁴.

Before you decide if the Cash Passport is right for you, it’s a good idea to compare the travel money to some other options. Check out the borderless multi-currency account from Wise as another way to safely manage your money and spend while you travel. You can open a borderless account online, and activate any of over 40 currencies, which you can then hold in your account. There's no minimum balance requirement, or inactivity fee to worry about.

You’ll be able to get a Wise travel money card, which you can use to spend any currency you have in the account for free in shops and restaurants. You can also withdraw up to the equivalent of £200 a month fee free from ATMS, with just a small fee added after that.

Like a Cash Passport, your borderless debit card is not linked to your main bank account, and is therefore a secure way to spend as you travel. Just top up your account in the currencies you want to use, and add more as and when you need it, using your UK bank account or card to fund the payment.

One thing to watch out for, whether you’re using a borderless debit card, a Cash Passport, or your home debit or credit card while you’re overseas, is dynamic currency conversion (DCC). This tricky fee is a headache for travellers, and can mean that card payments and ATM withdrawals are more expensive than they need to be.

DCC is where you’re asked by a merchant, or when making a cash withdrawal, if you want to pay in your home currency or the local one. If you choose to pay in your home currency, the exchange rate used is unlikely to be the best available, and you might run into additional fees, too. Choose to pay in the local currency, to get the best exchange rate and dodge excessive fees.

Sorting out your holiday money is not usually the most enjoyable thing about getting your travel plans all firmed up. But it doesn’t have to be painfully expensive either. Do a bit of research, looking at the local high street options like Co-op Travel, and also some new alternatives such as Wise, to figure out the best way to get the cash you need for your trip, at a fair price.

Sources used for this article:
*All sources checked on January 25, 2019

This publication is provided for general information purposes only and is not intended to cover every aspect of the topics with which it deals. It is not intended to amount to advice on which you should rely. You must obtain professional or specialist advice before taking, or refraining from, any action on the basis of the content in this publication. The information in this publication does not constitute legal, tax or other professional advice from Wise Payments Limited or its affiliates. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome. We make no representations, warranties or guarantees, whether express or implied, that the content in the publication is accurate, complete or up to date.

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