Ramsdens Travel Money: Foreign Currency Rates & Fees explained


Ramsdens has branches in the north of England, Scotland, and Wales. The services offered vary from buying and selling jewelry, to cashing cheques and making pawnbroking loans¹. You can also buy your travel money, make international payments, and get yourself a prepaid travel card to fund your spending while you’re abroad².

Here’s all you need to know about the travel money services you can get through Ramsdens.

What products does Ramsdens offer to get your holiday money sorted?

Ramsdens offers a number of financial services, including currency exchange, travel money cards, and international payments.

Travel money

You can get your travel money from 130 Ramsdens branches, which are located in the north of England, Scotland and Wales. In some branches you can walk in and buy travel money on the spot from a selection of common currencies, other stores are able to offer click and collect services, where you order travel money online in advance, and can pick it up later³.

It’s helpful to know that the exchange rates listed on the Ramsdens website are for online ordering only - the in store rates may differ².

Travel money card

Ramsdens also offer a travel money card in either euros or US dollars, which can be topped up online or instore, and then used to withdraw cash at a cash machine or to buy goods and services as you travel, just like you might use a debit card⁴. The card is accepted where you see the MasterCard symbol, with a few exceptions, such as self service petrol stations, trains, ships and some in-flight purchases, where prepaid cards aren’t valid⁵.

International payments

If you need to send money to a bank account overseas - for example, to pay for a holiday, or to buy a property abroad - you can also do that through Ramsdens⁶.

There’s no upfront fee charged for this service, although it’s a good idea to check the exchange rates used to ensure they’re fair compared to other providers. It’s common for banks and international transfer services to hide their fees in a poor exchange rate - which can leave you paying more than you have to. More on that later.

What are the fees for getting your travel money with Ramsdens?

Here’s an outline of the main fees to look out for when buying travel money from Ramsdens.

Travel money service Ramsdens fee
Travel money - currency exchange Currency exchange is commission free. However, you’ll need to check the exchange rate on offer for your currency pairing, to see if there's a markup added to the real exchange rate. More on that later. Exchange rates offered in store vary from those offered online².
Travel money card - fee to purchase a card Bought in store⁷: £4.95, or free if loading over £500 Bought online⁷: £9.95, or free if loading over £250
Travel money card - replacement card fee €7.50 for an EUR card, or $10.00 for a dollar card⁷
Travel money card - redemption fee (if applicable) £10 ⁷
Travel money card - limits for loading money Initial load must be a minimum of €10 or $10 ⁷ Maximum balance - €3,125.00 or $3,750.00 ⁷
Travel money card - transaction restrictions and fees Maximum of 20 purchases a day (maximum total amount €3,125 or $3,750) , and 3 ATM withdrawals a day (maximum total amount 625 or $750) ⁷
Travel money card - transaction fees when purchase is made in currency of the card Fee free⁷
Travel money card - transaction fees when purchase is not made in currency of the card 2% of the value of the transaction⁷
Travel money card - ATM fees €1.50 or $2.00 + possible ATM operator fees⁷
Travel money card - fee for instore over the counter cash withdrawal 1% of the transaction amount - minimum of €6.25 or $7.50 ⁷
International payments No upfront charges. Possible exchange rate markup + possible SWIFT network fees

If you’re sending money to a bank account held abroad through Ramsdens, it's worth knowing about the possibility of extra fees because of the SWIFT network. The SWIFT network is commonly used to process international payments, and involves several banks working together to move your money where you want it to go. Each bank involved in this transaction - known as an intermediary - can add a fee if they want to, meaning you might finish up paying up to 3 extra bank charges.

To avoid the SWIFT network entirely, you can choose an alternative provider such as Wise to make an international payment - more on that later.

What is the exchange rate you’ll get with Ramsdens

Whatever currency you need to buy, the exchange rate used will determine how far your cash goes during your travels. A good exchange rate means more in your pocket to spend during your holiday - while a bad rate can mean you need to cut back, just when you want to relax and enjoy your break.

If you’re buying travel money from Ramsdens, the first thing you’ll need to do is check which rate you’ll get.* Click and Collect* travel money orders are processed at the exchange rate advertised online, so long as you pay for and collect the money within the time limit. However, if you’re buying travel money instore, the exchange rates are set differently, and won’t necessarily be the same as those you find on the website².

Once you know what the rate is for the currency you need, the best way to check if it’s fair, is to compare it with the mid-market exchange rate. The mid-market rate is the one banks use for wholesale trading, and the one you’ll find if you google your currency pairing. It’s the only real exchange rate - however, travel money services often don’t actually offer this rate to their retail customers. Instead, they take the mid-market rate, and add a markup or margin - which they then keep as their profit.

It’s important to compare the rate you get with the mid-market rate yourself, to check that you’re being offered a good deal, rather than relying on any travel money service to do the job for you. Ramsdens state that they compare their exchange rates with local competitors to make sure the rates they offer are competitive³, and they use an exchange rate set by them to convert your travel money⁸. However, as it’s quite likely that the local competitors used as a benchmark also add a margin, this is no guarantee of a good deal. Instead, check for yourself, by simply Googling the currency pair you need, check the exchange rate quoted on an independent site like XE or Reuters, or use an online currency converter, and compare the rate that comes up with the one given by Ramsdens.

If you don’t like what you find, try an alternative option, like Wise, for currency conversion using the real mid-market rate every time. More on that in a minute.

Can you order travel money with Ramsdens online?

You can order travel money from Ramsdens through their Click and Collect service, and pick it up at any of 120+ branches across northern England, Scotland and Wales⁹. The exchange rates for this service are available on the website, and will be guaranteed for several days after you place your order³.

An alternative to doing this, if you’re headed off to visit friends or family abroad, is to use Wise to make a low cost international payment to someone you know with a local bank account in your destination. You can then use fee free cash machines to withdraw the money when you arrive, meaning you get your cash using the mid-market exchange rate and can access it easily when you need it.

Does Ramsdens offer a travel money card?

Travel money cards are a popular alternative to carrying cash or travellers cheques abroad. They allow you to pre-pay, and then top up a payment card which can be used as you travel, to withdraw cash in the local currency, or spend in shops and restaurants. There are a few restrictions it’s worth knowing about, and there are fees for these services you’ll want to understand in advance.

Ramsdens offer a travel money card in either euros or US dollars. You can buy a card online or in store, and then top it up, up to a maximum of €3,125.00 or $3,750.00. Once you have your card, you can use it while you travel, as long as you limit yourself to a maximum of 20 purchases a day (for a maximum total amount of €3,125.00 or $3,750.00), and no more than 3 ATM withdrawals (for a maximum total amount of €625.00 or $750.00). ATM withdrawals in the currency of the card come with a fee of €1.50 or $2.00 plus possible ATM operator fees, and there’s an extra charge if you use your card to buy things using a different currency than the one you loaded onto it⁷.

As you travel, you can top the card up online if you need to, so you just keep as much as you think you'll spend on it. There are a few more fees you should know about if you choose a Ramsdens travel money card - set out in the table above, and on the Ramsdens website.

If you need a different currency for your trip, or want to avoid some of the limits and fees involved, it’s worth seeing if a multi-currency borderless account from Wise might make life easier and cheaper for you. This new type of account lets you hold your money in any of over 40 currencies, and you can get a travel money card to use for day to day spending while you travel. There’s no minimum balance or monthly fee, and you can check your balance across different currencies at a glance, and then switch between them using the mid-market rate if you need to. You can also get a debit card linked to your borderless account, for easy spending when you’re abroad.

One final note on international card fees - and how to avoid them. If you choose to use a credit or debit card abroad in ATMs or for purchases, it’s also worth watching out for dynamic currency conversion (DCC), as this is a hidden cost which often catches travellers out. DCC is where you’re asked if you want to pay for your purchase using the local currency, or your own currency. Sounds reasonable, but there’s a snag. If you pay in your home currency, you’ll often be stuck with high fees and a poor exchange rate, set by the ATM or payment terminal operator. It’s always better to use the local currency, as this will usually get you a better exchange rate, and save you a few precious pounds.

Planning a holiday is always exciting. Sorting out your travel money, less so. However, getting the best possible deal for your travel money will ensure you have enough to spend to really enjoy your trip, and treat yourself as you travel. Well worth a bit of time invested in checking out the options available - both highstreet providers like Ramsdens, and smart new alternatives like Wise. Then you can kick back and get the most from your break.

Sources used for this article:
*All sources checked on December 18, 2018

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