Everyone loves a holiday - especially if you don’t have to organise everything yourself. Getting someone else to sort out your schedule and manage your flights and hotels... that’s the height of luxury. Which is what’s so great about travel agents: they can do the hard work for you, leaving you able to put your feet up and properly start to relax.
Hays Travel is the biggest independent travel agent in the UK, so certainly knows how to sort your holiday out for you. And as part of the services they offer, you can order holiday money from them.
That might sound perfect to you - stock up on foreign currency via the same people who are organising your trip. But do be sure to check you’re getting a decent deal first.
This article will explain how Hays travel money works, and offer some tips on alternative ways you can pay for stuff abroad.
Hays specialises in organising the holiday itself, so they’re a very different company from a lot of the banks and specialist money services that can also sort out your holiday money. If you’re looking for international money transfers, holiday insurance, holiday loans or anything else like that, you might need to look elsewhere.
But for holiday money, they offer a straightforward way to do it. You simply need to fill out an online form, and then they get in touch with you to confirm details. Then, you collect it from a local branch of Hays.
At the time of writing, Hays’s online “click and collect” service is suspended, but they recommend that you contact a local Hays branch directly to discuss your foreign currency needs.
First, the good news: Hays offers 0% commission on its foreign currency. It also doesn’t charge for the click and collect service, and doesn’t charge commission at the end of your trip if you want to change money back into pounds.
But the bad news is that 0% commission is never something to get excited about. And that’s because of what it generally means concerning the exchange rate.
Let’s start with the basics. Every company that offers you foreign currency has one simple but highly significant choice to make. That choice is what exchange rate to use.
Most often, companies choose an exchange rate by looking first of all at the mid-market rate, which is an average of all the buy and sell rates currently in use between two currencies. And then, they mark that exchange rate up.
Marking it up means that they simply say that your pounds are worth slightly fewer euros, or dollars, or whatever, than they really are according to the mid-market rate. So that leaves them with slightly more of your money.
The exchange rates listed on the Hays website do not appear to be the mid-market rate - you can check for yourself by looking at an online currency converter like XE or Wise. So, while it’s great they don’t charge commission, that doesn’t mean that your holiday money is on the house. The cost to you is just concealed within the exchange rate.
Is it ever possible to get a deal with the real, fair, mid-market exchange rate? It is, actually. Wise always uses the mid-market rate when converting money, so that there are no concealed costs to you - everything really is stated upfront.
Hays offers a “click and collect” service, meaning that you can order the money online and then collect it later on from one of the Hays offices - but at the time of writing, this is suspended. So you’ll need to get in touch with them by other means to try and get holiday money. Or check back later on, if your trip isn’t right now.
A lot of companies these days offer travel money cards - these are often pre-paid cards you can top up in a foreign currency. This can be a handy way to pay for stuff if you’re going somewhere where card payments are widely accepted: it could mean you don’t have to carry so much cash around. Compare the best travel money cards on our comparison page and find the best travel exchange rate.
Hays doesn’t offer one of these cards. But that doesn’t necessarily mean you should stop looking for one.
A borderless multi-currency account with Wise is one way to do it. In the UK, you can get a MasterCard debit card to go with this account, and you don’t have to pay any sort of monthly fee. In the borderless account, you can hold money in 40+ international currencies and pay out from it in over 50, and you also get virtual account details in 5 useful currencies: pounds, euros, and US, Australian and New Zealand dollars. So in any of those currencies, you can pay - and get paid - like a local.
And of course you have a travel money card - so you can easily make payments anywhere MasterCard is accepted. It really could make your holiday even easier.
An alternative, very easy option - though not quite as cost-effective as a borderless account - is simply to use your British bank account’s debit card abroad to withdraw cash. You should check, but most of the time they work fine in foreign cash machines, and doing this can work out cheaper than stocking up on holiday money before you go, because of poor exchange rates.
However, if you do this, watch out - firstly for any cash withdrawal fees that the ATM itself might charge you, on top of costs charged by your own bank. Secondly, and potentially even worse: you might be asked by the foreign ATM whether you want to use the local currency or your home currency (i.e. British pounds). If you’re asked this, you should always choose the local currency: choosing pounds will mean that your money is converted via a very bad exchange rate. It’s a process called Dynamic Currency Conversion (DCC) - and you’re better off avoiding it.
You’re not short of options, then, whether you opt to get your travel money through Hays, elsewhere, or via a multi-currency travel money card. When all’s said and done, the most important thing on your holiday is being able to relax. Which is easiest to do, of course, when you’re confident you’ve got a good deal.
All sources correct as of 31 December 2018
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 TransferWise 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.
This publication is provided for general information purposes and does not constitute legal, tax or other professional advice from Wise Payments Limited or its subsidiaries and its affiliates, and it is not intended as a substitute for obtaining advice from a financial advisor or any other professional.
We make no representations, warranties or guarantees, whether expressed or implied, that the content in the publication is accurate, complete or up to date.