Buying Euros Before Your Holiday

author image-crispin
By Crispin Bateman
Updated on Thursday 4 July 2019

Someone sorting out their passport and money at a desk

The UK summer sun is a little on-and-off for us Brits, so if it isn’t here, why not pop across to the continent for an enjoyable week or two where they’re bound to have better weather and warmer seas?!

But what should you do to make sure you’ve got the right money and aren’t wasting a fortune on exchange rates?

Buying euros

What is the exchange rate?

Buying euros before your holiday and getting the best exchange rate

How to get the best euro rates

Using your debit and credit cards abroad

Leftover money – selling euros

Buying euros

Buying euros is the short phrase used for exchanging your pounds into the standard currency of Europe. Euros are used in most EU countries (plus a few others). All the following use the Euro:

Andorra, Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Kosovo, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco, Montenegro, the Netherlands, Portugal, San Marino, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain and the Vatican City.


But when’s the right time to buy them and how do you get a good exchange rate?

What is the exchange rate?

The exchange rate is how many euros you get for each pound. At the time of writing, a single Euro is worth 89p (€1.12 for each £1), so if you exchange £89 you should see yourself with €100, or €112 for each £100 you exchange. Of course, it’s never that simple and two main factors come into play:

  • The exchange rate on offer – while the set exchange rate might be €1.12 to £1, the bank or agency changing your money is entitled to set their own level of exchange rate. To remain competitive, this should be in line with the standard rate, but often it isn’t.

  • Administration fees and commission – many currency exchanges will come with a commission or other hidden costs. If you use an ATM abroad, you will be charged a fee for each withdrawal, and debit or credit card transactions typically have a transaction fee.

So, don’t walk into your local currency exchange with £100 and expect to walk out with the full €112.

Some quick conversions based on today’s rate to help:

25 Euros in pounds:         £22.25
70 Euros in pounds:         £62.30
100 pounds in Euros:      €112.00
500 pounds in Euros:      €560.00

Should I buy Euros before I go on holiday? How do I get the best exchange rate to save money?

The exchange rate goes up and down daily and it is very difficult to predict. Politics (like Brexit), interest rates and current trading trends all have an impact on the currency value, and no one can accurately say what the exchange rate will be in a month or even a week. You could leave your Euro-buying until just before you go away, or even wait until you are in the host country and end up with a better deal than today, but one thing is certain – and that’s the rate you know you can get today.

Many people like having their foreign currency all organised well in advance to feel secure. If they get a better exchange rate then that’s great, and if it’s a little worse then it was worth it to make sure they were prepared. Others like to try their hand at looking at market trends and making an informed choice, while still more just do it when they can.

Planning in advance, however, does give you a huge advantage in shopping around. You’re not left with the default option but can search out a good rate and take advantage of it.

How to get the best euro rates

You won’t find the best Euro rate on the high street. Like many financial products, looking online is probably going to give you the best return. It means some forward planning as you must wait for the cash to arrive before going on your trip, but it can mean you get an extra day’s spending money for your trip.

Despite this, most people still get their currency in the familiar setting of their local bank and others fall into the trap of buying currency at the airport.

Why avoid airport currency conversion

The Euro exchange rate at an airport can look startling to anyone who has been planning to covert their pounds to Euros for a while. ‘Has the Euro exchange rate changed since I woke up?’ they think as they stand in line for the worst Euro-to-pound rate available today. No, but with a closed environment and a very captive customer base, the airport currency booths can pretty much charge what they want and be guaranteed business all day and night long.

You are far better off walking past all the bright lights and getting your cash once you are safely back in civilisation - airports are never the best place to buy Euros!

Using your debit and credit cards abroad

There are both advantages and disadvantages to using your cards abroad. As the world migrates to a cashless society, it seems obvious to just continue blipping your plastic with the same pleasure you do at home, but this can spell disaster if you don’t check out the situation beforehand.

Some banks will charge a set fee per transaction, rather than a percentage (meaning small purchases such as a cup of coffee are particularly expensive), others will simply have a high percentage fee or poor exchange rate.

On the other hand, many credit card companies have a specific card on offer for exactly this sort of use, making them ideal for those who travel abroad frequently and can even be the best possible way to use money overseas.

Using your cards in Europe is as convenient as it is at home – just make sure you check the rates before you go and weigh up the pros and cons.

Having money left over – how to sell your Euros

The temptation to just splurge whatever is left in the plane or in duty-free on the way home is strong – after all, when are you going to need Euros again? Really though, you are just undoing whatever good work you did in getting a good exchange rate before you left!

If you’ve got some currency left over, either save it for your next trip (there’s bound to be another, right?) or convert it back in just the same way! If you are lucky and the currency market has played in your favour, you could even be making some money in the process.

Financial help from Compare UK Quotes

Here at Compare UK Quotes we hope to give you the best personal financial advice available on the internet! We’re not all pound-to-Euro conversions, but we do know all about life insurance, personal loans, credit cards and even car leasing! Take a look at our library of articles to find out more.


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