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. You may also want to take 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.
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 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 pound 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.
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, at the same time. If you have one available, 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 ensure 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 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 use our mobile banking app to temporarily freeze your card.
After you get home
If you’ve got any surplus cash, 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 pound 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’.