Holidays: Should you buy back pounds? Exchange rate experts issue travel money warning

Holidays have been cancelled or postponed for the near future as coronavirus sweeps the globe. Many Britons may now be left with travel money they purchased that now has no use. It is possible to exchange this back into pounds at this time?


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Ian Strafford-Taylor, CEO of Equals (formerly known as FairFX), said: “We’ve found that on average people return from holiday with around £177 worth of leftover currency.”

However, he warned that Britons need to be careful about buy-back rates.

“Those with cash, whether leftover from a holiday or because travel plans were cancelled due to coronavirus, can change their currency back to sterling, but this will leave them at the mercy of buy-back rates, which have been hit by the falling pound over the last few weeks,” he said.

The best way to counter this problem is to shop around first.

“Savvy consumers should shop around before they change currency back to make sure they’re getting the best offer available and not losing too much money in the process,” Strafford-Taylor detailed.

However, given the closure of many bureau de changes and suspension and cash services it may actually be best to hold on to the travel money.

“If they can, holidaymakers might want to keep hold of their currency until their next trip and use it then,” said Strafford-Taylor.

“For those using prepaid currency cards, they can spend their money back in the UK online or in stores, keep it for their next trip, or change it to a different currency altogether.”

Sacha Zackariya, CEO, Change Group International Plc, also agreed exchanging money may not be wise right now.

“Along with all other bureaus de change and banks, we have now closed all branches,” Zackariya told

“We actually made the decision to close them before government restrictions to protect our staff and customers.


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“Due to this, unfortunately, there is no easy solution to change your foreign currency at this point.

“I would, therefore, recommend holding on to this leftover currency until your next holiday or if it is somewhere you are unlikely to travel again then exchange it at a later date.

“As international travel restrictions are updated and government policies change we recommend checking our website for updates on this situation.”

Sterling’s biggest low this week came after Prime Minister Boris Johnson delivered an announcement on Tuesday night that saw the UK forced into full lockdown.

The measures included the closure of many “non-essential” shops and businesses which saw the pound plummet.

However, Michael Brown, Currency Expert at Caxton FX, said: “Sterling continued to gain ground against the euro on Thursday, as a broad-based improvement in risk appetite helped to push the pound to its best levels in a week, back above the 1.10 handle.”

The boost came as the Bank of England decided to keep interest rates at a steady 0.1 percent on Thursday.

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