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Managing your money before, during and after travel

Planning your holiday spending can help you to avoid going over budget.

A quarter of holidaymakers admit they’ve spent between £100 and £300 more than they'd meant to while they’re away, according to our study[@sticky-censuswide-travel-survey-sept-2022].

Here are some tips to help you manage your money before you leave, while you're outside the UK and when you get back.

Before you leave the UK

Manage your finances before you go

Whether you're 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

Think about travel insurance

If you’re not already covered. it might be a good idea to buy travel insurance as soon as you book your trip.

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 of us 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. We're most likely to pick our 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 outside the UK (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 extras

UK 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 extra 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 touch 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

Paying 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 shop or restaurant 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 straight away 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 freeze your card.

After you get home

Almsot a fifth of UK holidaymakers (18%) 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 again soon 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’.