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Amongst many things, 2020 has been a difficult year for travel, and holidays have been fraught with confusion and anxiety for many. While travel corridors opened up the opportunity for more holidays without the risk of quarantine, many Britons have felt safer to give travel a miss this year.
However, one expert has pointed out that this could unexpectedly cost them.
For frequent fliers in possession who a prepaid currency card or international currency credit card, Ian Strafford-Taylor, CEO of FairFX has an urgent warning.
He said: “Unfortunately, some prepaid card providers have started to introduce this fee since the outbreak of COVID-19 as a result of fewer people travelling abroad and using their cards.
“It’s completely unfair for providers to penalise customers who haven’t used their cards during such a difficult time when travel has not always been possible.”
Some providers start charging card users fees if their cards haven’t been used for a while, sometimes in as little as 12 months.
These fees tend to be in the region of £3 per month.
Therefore, Mr Strafford-Taylor says it is vital cardholders check the terms and conditions of their plastic to ensure they are not currently being charged.
In normal circumstances, prepaid currency cards are a good way to lock in exchange rates.
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Given the ongoing pandemic and Brexit negotiations, securing the best exchange rate can feel like a minefield for holidaymakers, which is why the experts recommend opting for a travel money card for any future holidays.
“We have never charged our customer’s dormant fees and that remains the case with our recently launched FairFX Currency Card,” continued the travel expert.
“That means, if our customers can’t or choose not to travel abroad this year, they won’t be hit with any unexpected costs.
“This is unlike customers of other providers who have recently introduced these fees.”
Along with using travel money cards, Mr Strafford-Taylor also recommends planning as far in advance as possible.
“As with all trips – whether abroad or closer to home – it always pays to plan ahead wherever possible,” he said.
With travel corridors rapidly changing, and local lockdowns wreaking havoc on plans, some experts suggest changing travel money in two parts, rather than in one lump sum.
“Many people buy their holiday cash at a time when the rate is favourable even if that is months ahead of their actual trip,” said Paul Brewer, CEO of Currency Online Group.
“In normal times, this is very sensible as it locks in a good rate meaning they get more for their money.
“However, with unexpected changes in the quarantine rules week by week and with so much other uncertainty, this can leave you stuck with thousands of pounds worth of currency you can’t use.”
He advised: “The best thing for people to do is to buy half of your travel cash early at a good rate,” continued the travel money expert.
“Then nearer the time of your holiday, weigh up the risks and potential for disruption to your travel plans.”
However, regardless of the changes to travel, guidance on buying travel money at the last minute has not changed.
“Bureau de change desks offer notoriously poor rates to holidaymakers, leaving them substantially out of pocket and making it a high price to pay for those who leave their holiday money until the last minute,” said Mr Strafford-Taylor.
“Whatever you do when it comes to getting your holiday money, avoid leaving it until you get to the airport if you can help it.”
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