Travel money: Best time to buy holiday currency in the face of ‘unchartered’ Brexit

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With Brexit talks ramping up as the UK approaches its December 31 EU departure, the exchange rate has suffered dramatic fluctuations. All of this coupled with the ongoing pandemic has meant that some holidaymakers may have lost out on a decent chunk of travel money.

However, there is a way Britons can hedge their bets, according to a travel expert.

Though more turbulence is likely ahead as the transition period draws to a close, Ivan Chavlov, head of FX at financial technology firm Revolut says holidaymakers should keep a close eye on developments which could impact currency.

“Exchange rates are notoriously difficult to predict and fluctuate each minute, so the price you get will rarely be the same from day to day,” he told

“Allow plenty of time to watch currency movements, start looking at least one month before your holiday and buy when the rate is climbing and the pound looks strongest.”

Of course, even the most eagle-eyed news reader might not be certain of the exact direction which the exchange rate is going to go.

“Many things cause currency movements, from employment figures to economic forecasts to interest rates, as well as the ongoing uncertainty around Brexit, which continues to have an impact on the pound to euro exchange rate,” continued the financial expert.

“Exchange rates are very hard to predict and it is also extremely difficult to time the exchange perfectly unless you are constantly monitoring the exchange rates.”

The ongoing trade talks between the UK and EU have seen rates rise and fall in rapid succession throughout 2020.

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Commonly, signs of a deal being struck have seen sterling rise.

Meanwhile, the threat of a no-deal Brexit has summoned trepidation from traders.

“Brexit has had a huge impact on the exchange rate this year, so UK travellers should keep an eye on the price and shop across a period of time for a stronger rate,” said Mr Chavlov.

“While the pound remains the most affected currency, there are other currencies that have felt the effects of Brexit.

“The announcement of the new Brexit deal between the UK and EU, for example, resulted in a sharp rallying of the EUR-USD exchange rate.

“Brexit has pushed the pound into uncharted territory, making the currency particularly unpredictable.”

The outlook is even bleaker when the coronavirus pandemic and the economic fallout of lockdown measures are taken into consideration.

“The economic impact of coronavirus has led to fluctuations in currency values and exchange rates during the last 6 months,” pointed out the financial pro.

“From a currency perspective, exchange rate movement as the world recovers from the virus is likely to be driven by the speed of recovery on a comparative basis.

“With the UK being slower to react than most EU nations, for example, this may mean that it takes longer for Britain to ease lockdown measures and therefore could cause a longer-lasting economic impact which may result in the pound under pressure against the euro and other currencies.

“As lockdown measures continue to be eased and economies begin to work their way back to a new normal, the depth of recessions and the speed of recovery are likely to be amongst the main factors influencing exchange rates.”

Though predicting exchange rates might not be the most reliable way to get more bang for your buck, Mr Chavlov does offer some hope for thrifty travellers.

“It is much easier to control how much fees you are paying for that exchange,” he said.

“Whenever you are exchanging, make sure to compare how much of the foreign currency you can buy for your money and pick the best deal.”

With most travel money providers on the high street open for business, shopping around can be crucial.

“Keep in mind that fixed rates that are offered by some providers come at a cost and usually are a sign of high hidden fees,” added the expert.

Furthermore, don’t think about leaving cash exchanged until the last minute.

“Many travel money providers that you’ll see in airports offer terrible rates or offers which have a lot of hidden fees,” warns Mr Chavlov.

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