Here’s how to get the most out of your money while outside the UK. We’ve got tips on everything from what currency to pay in when using your card to managing leftover foreign cash.
Before you leave the UK
Remember to sort out your spending money in the weeks leading up to your trip. Depending on your situation and where you’re travelling, you may prefer to take cards or travel money. Or you may want to take a mixture of both.
Make a note of the number to call your bank from outside the UK so you can get in contact if something happens while you’re away. If you're with HSBC, you can phone +44 1442 422929 from outside the UK.
During your trip
Choose to pay in local currency
When shopping or eating out in a restaurant, you may be asked if you want to pay in pound sterling instead of the local currency. This is called dynamic currency conversion (DCC). You’ll almost always be charged a higher exchange rate for choosing to pay in sterling and the merchant may add on extra conversion fees.
If you choose to pay in the local currency, the exchange rate will be set by Visa or Mastercard. In most cases it will be lower.
Don't keep all your money in one place
Consider storing your cards and cash separately to reduce the risk of them all being lost, or stolen, at the same time. Use a safe to store anything valuable (including money) that you don’t need to have with you.
Budget your spending
Regardless of whether you’re using cards or travel money, it can be a good idea to give yourself a daily budget for spending while you’re away. By setting a reasonable target, you can make sure that when you come home you’re not stressed about money and in need of a holiday all over again.
Contact your bank immediately if your cards are lost or stolen
If your cards are lost, or stolen, while you’re away, you should tell your bank as soon as you realise so they can cancel them.
If you need emergency money abroad, some banks will arrange for cash to reach you to keep you going until you get home.
If you’re with HSBC, you can temporarily block your card while outside the UK. If your card is lost or stolen, call us on +44 1442 422929, or use our mobile banking app to temporarily block your card.
After you get home
If you’ve got any cash left over, you have a couple of options when you return home.
If you’ll be travelling to a country or region where that currency is used in the near future, you can choose to hold on to the money for when you travel there next.
If another trip isn’t on the cards, you can exchange your excess foreign currency back into sterling with an organisation that sells foreign currency, such as HSBC, if you're an HSBC customer. These transactions are often referred to as ‘buy backs’.