When you’re in the mood to splash out on some wares, you need money. It may be that you may intend to spend the day in Oxford Street, or perhaps you have a corporate dinner at the Park Grand London Kensington...or both. Either way, if your day is action-packed, you’ll need to make sure you have enough funds to cover everything.
It’s always important to make sure when you visit London from abroad that you are getting value for your money. In other words, you should be able to buy as many pennies as possible with your Euro. Unfortunately, finding a great exchange rate is often hard to come by and what with a commission on top of an exchange, you may find yourself seriously out of pocket.
It isn’t so much the cost of a corporate stay package in London or the major components of the package that cause concern. It is the little things, the food and drink you may have to buy while in London, or the parking, travel, phone charges or gifts that cost you.
To avoid spending more than you have to, check out our advice on how best to avoid the following pitfalls.
Don’t forget to research the local exchange rate
Make sure you know something about the exchange rate before you arrive in the UK. It is always worthwhile to keep in the back of your mind the exchange rate. Doing so will allow you to make an informed decision before you buy something. In London, there are lots of exchange bureaus and most of them have a board displayed outside the shop with the current exchange rate listed. This serves as a worthy reminder.
Get an overseas spending card
Most banks and credit card companies add a surcharge of about 3% to purchases you make overseas. Thus, as well as being hammered by a poor exchange rate, you may find yourself paying through the nose for purchases because of it. Best if you can to find a bank or credit card company that doesn’t charge you and that allows you to purchase at post-exchange face value. We’d recommend you do this prior to your stay at the Park Grand London Kensington.
Some banks require you to apply for such cards several weeks before travelling so you must pre-empt your travels and talk to a financial adviser before your journey. One of the drawbacks of this type of surcharge-free card is that you will be credit tested during the application process. If you have a poor credit rating the chances are you will have to stick with a card that charges.
Don’t overlook bank and ATM fees.
In addition to banks that levy transaction fees you may find surcharges being levied on bank and ATM withdrawals when you embark upon your corporate stay package in London. Most banks will charge a small percentage for one of their customers to withdraw money overseas to cover the exchange of the currency within the transaction. And to make matters worse the surcharge varies according to the financial stability of the UK.
To avoid losing out in this way it is best to try to avoid using a bank or ATM for withdrawals while on your trip. However, if you are lucky enough to be a customer of a bank that is big enough or is a member of a network of banks that foots the bill for foreign withdrawals then you need not worry about it. It is best to check with your individual bank their rules and charges in this respect before departing.
Inform your bank
Whether you plan to stay at the Park Grand London Kensington or elsewhere you should always let your bank know that you are leaving the country for a certain number of days. Most banks these days are intolerant of any suspicious activity of their account holders. It is highly likely that if you did not let your bank know that you were travelling you will be barred from any purchases after your first card transaction in a foreign country.
You should decide what card you will use on your trip and inform the relevant department that you are leaving to visit somewhere abroad. A cancelled card will make it exceedingly difficult to continue your trip and you will find yourself incurring additional costs of phone calls back and forth during your stay in London to try to rectify the situation.
If you prefer to use cash while on holiday then you will be able to avoid any major fluctuations in the exchange rate. Changing currency before you travel will enable you to avoid nasty transaction charges while in London and will allow you to keep more in your pocket, should the exchange rate favour the pound at any time during your stay.
You may find plenty of websites online that compare exchange rates so that you can decide which will benefit you more. But, make sure you use a debit card rather than a credit card to exchange money otherwise you will be charged interest. Once you have exchanged your currency you will be all set to embark on your journey in the knowledge that the deal you got was the best at the time and you are not at the mercy of a further widening of the currencies’ values.
Some exchange bureaus allow you to pre-order your currency at a set rate and collect prior to leaving for your trip. But due to the problems associated with Brexit bureaus are less willing to do this at the time of writing because the value of the pound is very changeable.
Don’t use an airport exchange
You should avoid exchanging money at an airport.
Good planning will ensure that you have everything ready on the day you leave and do not leave anything to the last minute. Exchange bureaus at airports and near popular attractions tend to prey on people who have left things too late. These are the captive audience with no other option than to exchange at such a place. As such, exchange bureaus at a country’s ports charge an extortionate amount of money to exchange currency.
In addition, most ATMs at airports are controlled by companies that offer an inferior exchange rate. Again they do this to maximise their profiting from people who have no alternative than to change currencies at the last moment before catching their flight or hailing a taxi to an unfamiliar city.