Managing your money before, during and after travel

When you travel abroad, how do you manage your holiday spending and keep your cash and cards safe?

From understanding what currency to pay in when using your card to managing leftover foreign cash, here’s how to get the most out of your money while overseas.

Before you head overseas

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 a mixture of both.

Explore more: Should you use travel money or a card overseas?

Make a note of your bank’s overseas number so you can get in contact if something happens while you’re away. HSBC customers can phone +44 1442 422929 from abroad.

Always be sure to let your bank know you’re travelling.

During your trip

Choose to pay in local currency

When shopping, eating out in restaurants or withdrawing cash, you may be asked if you want to pay in pounds 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 pounds 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 and will in most cases be lower.

Explore more: Should you pay in local currency?

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 if something goes wrong. If you have one available, use a safe if you don’t need to take all your money or documents out 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 ensure that when you come home you’re not stressed about money and in need of a holiday all over again.

Explore more: How to create a budget

Contact your bank immediately if your cards are stolen

It’s important to keep your cards in sight and in your possession at all times. 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 tide you over until you get home.

If you’re an HSBC customer, you can temporarily block/freeze your card while abroad. If your card is lost or stolen call us on +44 1442 422929 or you can temporarily freeze or block your card with our mobile banking app.

After you get home

If you’ve got any surplus cash, what can you do with it when you get back to the UK?

If you’ll be travelling to a country 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 pounds 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’.

What next?