Buying Your Holiday Euros & Foreign Exchange
There are so many ways to pay for things these days, we want to know which one is best whilst abroad. Contactless cards have made small exchanges quick and easy. There are even banking Apps on your mobile that do the same - great if you've misplaced your wallet but what if you lose your phone!? Not only do you lose your contact with the outside world (how nice would that be) but you could give the 'finder' and unprecedented shopping spree, not to mention login details to a load of sites such as your bank, Paypal, Ebay, Amazon and so forth.
Airport Currency Exchange
Whichever way you decide to pay for things make sure you've decided well in advance. Don't leave it to the last moment and end up buying euros at the airport! You will loose around 10%, or even more at some airports. This is by far the worst way to exchange currency, they're basically sharks!
If you feel the need to have some Euros on you before you travel then the Post Office provides a great service with a reasonable exchange rate and no extra fees. Perfect if you have a specific budget in mind and don't want to spend any more.
If you want to wait until you arrive in France, simply use your debit card at an ATM, much the same as you would in the UK. Most banks offer a reasonably competitive rate when using a Debit Card in this way. Like anywhere else in the world you should avoid using Credit Cards to withdraw cash as there are substantial charges that apply.
your debit/credit card at shops and restaurants
If you are expecting to pay for large families and groups, you probably don't want to carry around wads of cash. Not only does it weigh you down but you could lose it, misplace it, have it stolen etc. Purchasing things like family lunches on cards is easy and you are given the same reasonable exchange rate as when using an ATM, hoorah! However depending on your bank, each transaction and purchase incurs a small fee. This fee depends on the bank you are using; Nationwide, Santander and Metro Bank all offer credit cards with no extra charges but most others will. Barclays for example charge 2.75% as their non sterling transaction fee PLUS a £1.50 non sterling purchase fee.
Some may well have a Euro bank account, in France, in which case you should take care to choose a Foreign Exchange specialist to transfer funds from Sterling into Euros. The main high street banks do not provide particularly competitive rates and we would recommend looking at a specialist such as Transfer Wise
If you want a 'catch all' solution that you can travel far and wide with, take a look at a prepaid currency card such as Monzo - It's free to spend and withdraw cash worldwide. You load the card with pounds, then the conversion's done when you use the card overseas.