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Old 02-16-2009   #16 (permalink)
lost on fifth
Join Date: Feb 2009
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Raquelle - that's absolutely brilliant advice - thankyou so much. I'll definitely be taking that route.
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Old 02-16-2009   #17 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by peapod View Post
Raquelle - that's absolutely brilliant advice - thankyou so much. I'll definitely be taking that route.
You're welcome Petra! Glad it made sense too. I went through several re-drafts to try to explain it as best I could without it all ending up sounding more complicated than it actually is etc.

I did my maths comparing the various exchange rate relationships using the "travel money" rate, and even that gave me more pesos to my pound doing it this way. So add on top of that that the FairFX card also gave me the "business" rate (1.45 as opposed to 1.36 for instance) the end deal was in actual fact even better.

I would still obviously re-check the maths every time though but that's only a few mins job.

Because these cards only come in sterling or dollar (and Thomas Cook/Post Office I think also come in euro) they wouldn't necessarily come to mind when travelling somewhere that doesn't use those currencies. Thomas Cook also tried to get me to have one in sterling, for use in Mexico. But the exchange rate was pants in comparison! I was also surprised to read on the ML website how, if you get the card at the branch (Thomas Cook) rather than online, then you can't top it up online - whats the bloody point of that?!
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Old 02-16-2009   #18 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by raquelle261 View Post
For use in Mexico the end result you need to have with you is pesos. There are ways however that you can "work" the exchange rate to get the most pesos for your pound. So here, in my opinion from my own experience (I accept it might be different for others), are my tips for making your pound go further for your travel money when travelling from the UK to Mexico (or the US for that matter).....

You can of course do a straight swap at a bureau from sterling into pesos - this is on the face of it too the most simple method, although it involves either cash or travellers cheques which carry their own hassles and security risks etc (for convenience when you land though I would always get a few pesos from the bureau here just to have handy at the airport for tips etc.). Many on here will advise you the best way is to use a debit/credit card and take money out of an ATM whenever you need it - and it is - however, although that is great for US cards, in the case of UK cards (with the exception of Nationwide) you will be stung massively by the bank adding on hidden fees and charges and commission and worsening the exchange rate for you. So unless you have a Nationwide current account forget using your bank card in Mexico at the ATM or to pay over the counter.

There is another method though. And, believe it or not, on the current exchange rate relationships (sterling/dollar, sterling/peso, dollar/peso) you actually get more pesos for your pound if you do this route: buy dollars here, then convert those dollars to pesos when you get there.

Now..... if you DO choose to do the sterling-dollar-peso route then the next bit below comes into play (and it gives you a piece of plastic for security/convenience/ATM use etc and gives you the far better exchange rates in all conversions). A prepaid currency card is a chip and pin mastercard so can be used as a debit card or at an ATM, but is not linked to your bank so no security risk and also doesn't charge any fees etc. It also gives you a much better exchange rate than the bureaus. For the Mexico method I have suggested you would get a prepaid card in dollars. I have always found the FairFX prepay to be fantastic and have two cards with them - one for main use and one as back up in case the first one gets lost, damaged or stolen. If anything happens to the card you ring them up, they freeze it, and having the second card with you means they can instantly transfer the balance over on to the other card and you are totally unaffected by the loss/theft/whatever. You can only get these cards in either sterling or in dollars. For use in Mexico I have in the past got one in dollars then stuck it in an ATM in Mexico and withdrawn pesos, taking advantage of the good dollar/peso rate.

Martin Lewis on moneysavingexpert gives you the full lowdown on all the options, and the prepaid card offered by FairFX really does seem to pan out as the best deal by far. You "fill it up" with however many dollars you want and can top it up online for free anytime you need. Think of it like a plastic can-be-used-everywhere travellers cheque! There are several companies that do these cards but FairFX in particular give you the "business" exchange rate instead of the "travel money" rate, the business one as I say always being a much much better rate and something you simply would not get at any currency exchange bureau (their rate is better than the cards you see advertised at Thomas Cook or the Post Office too). And don't worry, its not a credit card or bank account, so no credit checks are needed or subject to status or anything.

Cheap Travel Money: Get the best exchange rates and pick the right plastic...

With today's exchange rates the dollar to peso using a prepaid dollar card route is the way to go - it was the best route for me twice last year too and I know from checking the maths again today it is still the way in which to stretch your pound the furthest it is possible to do so. That might change though if the exchange rates fluctuate massively but am happy to check through it with you later in the year if you would like. The Martin Lewis website is also fantastic for giving you the up to date "best options" for the standard cash/cards routes etc too.


Makes sense to me

I used my HSBC (maestro) whilst i was out there-I cant be 100% certain but am sure i didnt get stung with any fees.

I do remember that we got a pretty good exchange rate with Thomas Cook as opposed to the supposedly " enhanced Nat West exchange rate " that Gold card account holders are supposed to get"
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