When you fly overseas from Heathrow Airport, you may want to take some travel money with you. Heathrow currency exchange is very straightforward. By changing money before you depart, you’re making sure that you arrive at your destination fully prepared and you won’t have to worry about withdrawing money from an ATM abroad.
Order Travel Money at Heathrow
There are many opportunities to buy currency at Heathrow Airport. However, as a general rule, changing money when you arrive at the airport is not the best idea. Foreign exchange companies know that you have fewer options to change money once you arrive at the airport, and the rates tend to be a lot less competitive than you can find elsewhere.
There are two key pieces of information to keep in mind when changing money: the exchange rate and the commission charged.
The foreign currency exchange rates determine how much you will receive after changing your money. Exchange rates tend to be very similar between the two companies operating at the airport, but you should still search for the best rate when you arrive.
The commission is the fee for the transaction. At the airport you will usually have to pay a commission on your transactions, but away from the airport you may be able to change money commission free.
When you do change money, make sure you look at both of these figures as they will determine how much foreign currency you will receive in total.
Where to Exchange Money & Pick Up Travel Money at Heathrow
There are two companies operating in every terminal at Heathrow Airport where you can buy currency: Moneycorp and Travelex. These are both large, trusted foreign exchange companies, and both offer in the range of 80 currencies.
Order Currency Online
If you do not want to change up your travel money when you arrive at Heathrow Airport, you can order currency online in advance. In fact, this is often the best option because you will often be able to find the best exchange rates online, and you may be able to get a lower commission or sometimes even 0% commission on your transaction.
You can do this by simply visiting the websites of either Travelex or Moneycorp and buying your money through the sites. You can then arrange to pick up your money on arrival at the airport, making it a convenient option that also allows you to take advantage of better rates. You will also save some time at the airport, which is great if you are in a rush.
Travel Money Home Delivery
The other option is to order your money online and get it delivered either to your home or to a nearby branch in advance of your trip. If you do this, you will not have to use one of the companies operating at Heathrow Airport, and you will have a greater variety of options, so you may be able to find even better tourist exchange rates.
Order your currency online with Post Office and you can choose to have it delivered to your home or you can select from over 11,500 branch locations to collect it. If you order before 3pm on a weekday it will be delivered free to your home next day or for branch collection. Plus, Post Office offer improved rates the more you buy, charge 0% commission and offer competitive rates on over 70 foreign currencies. They were also voted ‘Best Foreign Exchange Retailer’ at the British Travel Awards for 7 years running. Click here for more info.
When you order currency online for home delivery, you should compare different companies to find the best deal. Once you find a company you like the look of, check to see how long they take to deliver the money, whether free insurance is included for larger orders, and whether they are able to deliver at the weekend, as these may affect your decision.
Prepaid Currency Cards
If you don’t want to carry foreign currency with you, another option is to order a prepaid currency card. These provide all the convenience of paying by credit card but without the extra fees often associated with using cards abroad.
Currency cards are simple to use. Just find a company that provides them, and choose the type of card that you want to use. They are often available in US dollars, euros and pounds, so choose the most suitable card depending on your destination.
Currency cards are convenient because you do not have to carry around large amounts of money, which also makes them safer. They usually provide free ATM withdrawals around the world, and sometimes they provide good exchange rates. However, limits often apply to ATM withdrawals and in-store purchases, and you will not get the same protection as you wound under Section 75 when using your credit card.
Post Office offer Travel Money Card Plus prepaid MasterCard card, available in eight different currencies and which can be used in shops, bars and restaurants without any fees (excludes the Sterling card). You can check your balance, top up your card or view recent transactions via Post Office website, SMS service, smartphone app or their UK Call Centre. They offer a free smartphone APP from the Apple app store or Google Play. Click here for more info.
Choose your company carefully because, just like foreign currency, they all have different rates. They will also have different minimum load amounts and different rules on fees and the maximum number of withdrawals, so take all of these factors into account.
Once you have ordered a card, simply load some money onto it, which you can usually do online. If you have a dollar or euro card, your money will be changed at the rate on the day that you load the card. This means you don’t have to worry about future currency fluctuations if you are travelling a few months from now.
If you load up your card in pounds, when you extract money from your card while you are abroad the foreign currency exchange rates will be the rates at the time that you make the extraction.
Credit and Debit Cards
In general, credit and debit cards are not the best way to spend money overseas. They often come with a number of fees including loading fees, exchange fees, purchase fees and withdrawal fees, and interest is also charged on credit cards. As such, they can be more expensive than buying foreign currency in advance or using a currency card.
Having said that, if you choose your card properly, you may find that it is actually cheaper to use a card abroad. In addition, you get the safety benefit of not carrying any cash, and you also get Section 75 protection.
If you would like to take a card abroad with you, you will have to sort this out well in advance. Start by researching the available cards, and look into all of the fees associated with them. Some may come with good exchange rates, no loading charges and no ATM fees, whereas others may be more suitable because they provide rewards for spending.
Travellers’ cheques are not as common these days as they were in the past, but they are still a convenient option for some travellers. The advantage of travellers’ cheques is that they are secure because if they get lost or stolen, you can cancel them and pick up replacements all over the world.
The disadvantage of travellers’ cheques is that you have to change them up to use them, so they are not as convenient as using a credit card or currency card, and the rates can often be worse than if you are changing cash.
Heathrow Currency Exchange Tips
There are a few things that you should remember before changing your money at Heathrow Airport or elsewhere to get the most out of it:
- Always look for the best rates whenever you change money. You can do this by comparing companies online, or by looking at the different rates at the companies operating at the airport when you arrive.
- Remember that just because the rate is good, the commission may be high. Always work out how much money you will receive in total before changing anything.
- Try to order your money online in advance to get the best exchange rates rather than changing it at the airport when you arrive.
- If you use a credit card abroad, be careful about the interest charged. Even if you pay off your balance in full, interest could still be charged on it.
- Order a currency card a few weeks or months before you travel. Even if you don’t plan to use your card, you can keep it as a backup if something happens to your money.
- If you take your credit or debit card abroad, make sure you inform your bank in advance. Sometimes they will automatically freeze your card if they see transactions overseas in an attempt to combat fraud.
- If you take travellers’ cheques overseas, try to take larger denominations. There is usually a set fee for changing a cheque, which is the same for a small cheque as it is for a much larger cheque.