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Managing your money before, during and after travel

According to our study, which surveyed 2,014 adults in the UK – one in four (25%) holidaymakers admit they’ve gone between £100 to £300 over budget while they’re away.

We have some options to help you with your planning. 

Here, we look at how to manage your money while outside the UK.

Before you leave the UK

Manage your finances before you go

Whether you plan on travelling for one week or several months, it’s important to take some time to create a budget. Understanding your income and outgoings can help you work out what you can comfortably afford to spend on your holiday. 

You could use tools like our budget planner to help. 

As you note down your expenses, now is the time to set up Direct Debits to make sure any bills are paid on time automatically – giving you one less thing to worry about. 

If you’re looking to save money for travel, our savings goal calculator can help you work out how much you’d need to reach your goal.

Explore: Online money management tools

Consider travel insurance

It’s a good idea to buy travel insurance as soon as you book your trip, if you’re not already covered.

Travel insurance doesn't just cover you while you're away. It can also cover you for things that might go wrong before you travel, such as cancelled or delayed flights. Without travel insurance, things can get quite costly – should something happen. 

Explore: Should you get travel insurance?

Sort out your spending money

Our survey suggests debit cards (36%) are just as popular as cash (36%) as the preferred way of spending money outside the UK. Credit cards also remain a popular choice (25%).

From those who prefer to use cash, the majority (51%) still prefer to get it face-to-face from a bank or currency exchange before they travel. Brits are most likely to pick their provider by exchange rate (36%), followed by ease of use (22%) and how close it is to home (14%).

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.

Our HSBC Global Money Account allows you to spend money abroad (withdraw cash or make card purchases in multiple currencies) without paying HSBC fees – just as you would at home. It removes some of that unexpected spend – making it easier to plan and stick to a budget.

Global Money is available for eligible HSBC Current Account holders who have the HSBC UK mobile banking app. Terms and conditions apply.

You can also order Travel Money online from HSBC – choose home delivery or collect in a branch.

Understand the extra’s

British holidaymakers say they’ve been pushed over budget by surprise holiday charges – luggage fees (22%) and over-priced hotel excursions (22%). 

It’s important to understand any additional costs when travelling abroad, including any fees or charges for using your card outside the UK.

Gather key contacts

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. 

You should also do the same with your travel insurance provider and any other numbers you might need.

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 pounds. The merchant may also add on extra conversion fees.

If you choose to pay in the local currency, Visa or Mastercard will set the exchange rate, which in most cases will be lower.

Explore: Should you pay in local currency outside the UK?

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 stick to 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 while outside the UK, 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 freeze 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 do this.

After you get home

One in five (18%) British holidaymakers admit they’ve got more than £100 worth of foreign cash at home after taking it back with them at the end of their holiday.

If you have any cash left over, you have a couple of options when you return home.

If you plan to travel in the near future to a country or region where that currency is used, you can choose to hold on to the money until then.

If another trip isn’t on the cards, you can exchange your foreign currency back into pounds. These transactions are often referred to as ‘buy backs’.

Survey was conducted by Sticky and Censuswide on behalf of HSBC UK. Sample size was 2,014 adults in the UK. Fieldwork was undertaken between 2nd to 6 September 2022. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all UK adults (aged 16+).