Exchange rates boost Brits holiday spending

This year, British travellers to the euro zone found their spending power had increased by 35 percent, according to the findings of a recent study.

The study, which was carried out by My Travel Cash Prepaid Mastercard, claimed that British travellers had more than £350,000 extra to exchange this year, which equated to a 15 percent increase on the funds that were available to them last year. It was also noted that 50 percent of all transactions were made in small, independent businesses, like restaurants and shops.

The benefits of the favourable exchange rates are set to continue into the autumn, with those taking late holidays in Europe still benefiting despite some weakening of the pound compared to the highs that it experienced earlier in the year. According to My Travel Cash, exchanging £500 for a trip to Europe is still netting the traveller €61 more than it did this time last year.

Myles Stephenson, founder and managing director of My Travel Cash, was reported by Travelweekly, saying, ‘It was widely reported in the lead-up to summer that sterling’s strength against the euro would be good news for the British public, but the proof is definitely in the pudding now we take a retrospective look back at the summer’s transactions and spends compared to that of last year. What was less reported on but is still a valid point, is the contribution our holiday spends make to the economies of the countries we visited.’

He added, ‘British purchasing power abroad is set to continue well into the winter months, as our gloomy weather encourages more trips to warmer climates.’

Where not to buy your travel money

As summer holidays approach, Facebook (which is expected to be valued at $100bn following an initial IPO) is being used by travellers to warn each other about where not to get travel money.

A recent campaign started on a Facebook page (http://www.facebook.com/fairfx) has resulted in many cost-conscious holidaymakers posting photos of poor exchange rates at various locations. The biggest culprits to-date include bureaux de change at Gatwick and Heathrow airports as well as overseas locations like France.

Stephen Heath, CEO at FairFX.com said: “It’s interesting to see this development in the use of social media effectively providing more transparency for consumers in a marketplace which is sometimes confusing.”

“Recently, we’ve seen many travellers voice their dissatisfaction and uploading photos of the rates onto our Facebook page. So far, the worst rate we’ve seen was offered by a travel money booth at Gatwick Airport – $1.48 for £1 when the mid-market rate was over $1.63 – that’s £50 profit for every £500 exchanged.

“Perhaps the use of social media sites like Facebook will finally shame airports into doing something about this raw deal. In the meantime, many savvy travellers are pre-purchasing their travel money using prepaid currency cards which provide much better value and convenience.”