Tesco Travel Money: Foreign Currency Rates & Fees Explained

Wise

If you’re planning a break there are a few things you’re definitely going to have to get sorted out in advance. Your passport, some insurance, and your flights are essential - but you could also save money if you arrange your travel money before you jet off, too.

Tesco offers a travel money service - provided by Travelex¹ - through their banking arm, including foreign currency and a travel money card. You can either order cash in advance for delivery or collection, or call into a branch with a travel money bureaux¹. If you’re considering your options, it’s good to know the likely fees Tesco might charge for your travel money. Make sure you compare the travel money with other providers to get the best available deal, and especially look at the Tesco exchange rate on offer for your particular currency pairing.

Here’s all you need to know to help decide if Tesco Travel Money is the right option for you.

What products does Tesco offer to get your holiday money sorted

Tesco - through their Tesco Bank operation - offers several different ways to get your holiday cash, or a prepaid travel money card. You could order currency in advance for collection or home delivery, or simply call into a travel money bureaux at a Tesco store if there's one nearby.

Click and collect foreign currency

You can order foreign currency online, and collect it later from one of the Tesco travel money bureaux, or the customer service desk in your local branch. There are over 300 travel money bureaux around the country, and a further 100 stores which offer collection from the customer service desk¹. If you’re ordering euros or US dollars, these could be ready the next working day if you order before 2 pm - other currencies could take up to 5 days to be prepared.

Home delivery of foreign currency

If it’s not convenient to collect your foreign currency from a store, you can have it delivered to your home address. This can also be a faster service, with all currencies arriving the next working day, provided they’ve been ordered before 2 pm on Monday-Thursday. These orders can’t be changed or cancelled after they have been placed, though, and you’ll need to make sure someone’s home to sign for the delivery when it arrives. There’s a £3.95 fee if your order is beneath £500, but if you order more than £500 you won’t have to pay a delivery charge¹.

In-store travel money bureaux

Some 300 Tesco stores have their own travel money bureaux, offering on the spot currency exchange and the sale of travel money cards. It’s good to know that the exchange rates offered by Tesco vary depending on the store, and online exchange rates might be different again. Make sure you’re happy with the rate being offered, if you decide to buy your holiday money in a Tesco store².

Multi-currency Cash Passport prepaid travel money card

Tesco offers a travel money card, which you must buy in-store from a Tesco travel money bureaux. You can load up your card with any of up to 7 different currencies and use it for ATM withdrawals or day to day spending while you travel. There are fees and charges associated with this product, which we will cover later⁵.

What are the fees for getting your travel money with Tesco

Here’s an outline of the fees and charges you might come across if you choose to get your travel money through Tesco.

Service Tesco Travel Money fee
Exchange fees Tesco does not charge an explicit commission or exchange fee¹ - however, you may find that there's a markup added to the real exchange rate. More on that later.
Home delivery of travel money £3.95 for orders up to £500. Free for orders over £500.¹
Card payment fees Your credit or debit card provider may charge a fee if you use a card to purchase travel money. Tesco says the following on their travel money website pages¹: “regardless of your card type, your card provider may apply fees, e.g. cash advance fees or other fees”
Cancellation of an order No fee, unless you cancel less than 24 hours before the collection date, you’ll than be charged a late cancelation fee of £10 ¹
Travel Money Card - ATM withdrawal fee ATM withdrawal fees depend on the currency being withdrawn. In the UK it will be £1.50, in the euro area €1.75. In the US you’ll pay $2.30, and in Australia $2.30, for example. The ATM operator might add extra fees on top of this².
Travel Money Card - fee for spending in UK pounds 2% ²
Travel Money Card - other fees Tesco bank only provides the travel money card via their in-store travel money bureaux, and ask that customers confirm in person the relevant limits and fees which will apply to their card.

What is the exchange rate you’ll get with Tesco

If you’re buying your travel money through Tesco, it's a good idea to do a bit of research before deciding whether to order currency online or in a store. The exchange rates are different online to at a travel money bureaux, and can also vary from store to store. Store rates do not appear online, so there's no way to check them without calling round your local branches³.

Having found the best exchange rate on offer through Tesco, you’ll want to make sure it’s fair. This can be easily done by comparing the Tesco exchange rate with the mid-market exchange rate.

Although exchange rates do vary and go up and down according to market changes, your benchmark rate should always be the current mid-market rate. This is the only real exchange rate, and the one you’ll find if you Google your currency pairing, or use an online currency converter.

Compare the Tesco rate with the mid-market rate for your currency pairing, to spot any markup or spread which might have been added to the rate. Banks and foreign exchange services often add this to the real exchange rate to increase their profit. This isn’t transparent and makes it hard to know if you’re getting a fair deal or not.

That said, it's possible to find a service which offers currency exchange using the mid-market rate, with just a small upfront fee, if you know how.

A great option if you want to exchange your sterling for holiday spending money, is to open up a multi-currency borderless account from Wise. You can exchange your pounds to any of over 40 different currencies, using the real exchange rate, and withdraw local currency from an ATM as you travel, or spend using your linked debit card. More about that - and other tips for avoiding unfair fees on currency exchange - in a moment.

Can you order travel money with Tesco online?

You can order your travel money online with Tesco, and then either collect it in a store with a travel money bureaux, or at a customer service desk in selected stores. You can also have it delivered to your home - although there’s a fee for this service if you’re exchanging less than £500.

One downside of exchanging large amounts of foreign currency is that you then have to carry it around for the duration of your break. This can be risky. An alternative, if you don’t want to keep all of your cash to hand all the time, is to use Wise to make a low cost international transfer to someone you know in your destination who has a local bank account.

This works really well if you’re heading off to visit family or friends, for example, as you can make a transfer easily online, and then use fee-free cash machines to make ATM withdrawals in the local currency once you arrive.

Does Tesco offer a travel money card?

Tesco offers a travel money card called a multi-currency cash passport. This is a prepaid currency card, which allows you to load up to 7 different currencies onto it before you go on your travels, and then make ATM withdrawals, or use your travel money card for day to day spending in stores and restaurants.

It’s important to note that you can only get a Tesco travel money card by visiting a branch of Tesco with a travel money bureaux. If there’s not one nearby, you might decide you need a different option - like a borderless account from Wise which we will cover in a moment.

Travel money cards are popular because they’re convenient, but often considered to be safer than using a credit or debit card abroad. That’s because a prepaid currency card only has the money you load on it - and isn’t linked to your main bank account. So, even if you were to lose the card and the PIN, the thieves could never get access to your regular bank account.

However, there are fees for various services when using a Tesco travel money card, including ATM withdrawals, which you’ll need to take into account. One unfair cost you really don’t want to get caught out by when using a credit, debit, or travel money card abroad, is dynamic currency conversion (DCC)

DCC is a common headache for travellers, and although banks and merchants suggest it’s a service to their customers, it can mean you pay far more than you have to for your overseas purchases.

DCC is where you’re asked if you’d like to be charged in your home currency for a purchase or ATM withdrawal, rather than the local currency. The catch here is that if you say you’d like to be charged in your home currency, the exchange rate used is typically poor, and you might also run into high fees. Avoid unnecessary costs by always asking to pay in the local currency.

It’s good to know that there are other options out there if you’re considering a travel money card from Tesco. You might find that a borderless account from Wise is a cheaper, more flexible option, for example.

This multi-currency account lets you hold your money in any of over 40 different currencies in the same place. You can top up and check your balance easily, and switch between currencies using the real mid-market exchange rate, for just a small fee, whenever you want to.

A great feature of the borderless account is that you can get a Wise travel money card for day to day spending, and to make local ATM withdrawals as you travel. You can withdraw up to the currency equivalent of £200 a month from ATMs for free, with a small charge added for withdrawals above that amount.

You can also add a free virtual card to your account for an extra layer of security while spending abroad.

Getting a borderless account and linked debit card is entirely free, and there’s no minimum balance requirement. You don’t have to go to a Tesco travel bureaux to get your card and account, saving you some time, and thanks to the low fees and great exchange rate, you can usually save money, too.

Arranging your travel money is never the most enjoyable part of your holiday. But without some research in advance, you could find that getting your spending money costs much more than it needs to. Invest some time in advance, researching the best travel money options for you - and have more in your pocket for spending while you’re away.

Sources used for this article:
1.https://www.tescobank.com/travel-money/
2.https://www.tescobank.com/travel-money/buy-in-store/
3.https://yourcommunity.tescobank.com/t5/Travel-Money/tkb-p/faq-4
*Sources checked on December 13, 2018


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