THE Post Office is to offer customers the chance to buy and sell holiday money as Brits look set to be able to go on summer trips abroad once again.
The retailer shut down its online foreign exchange service and travel desks in branches at the end of March after the UK went into lockdown.
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Summer holidays were off the cards as many countries around the world shut their borders in an attempt to get the deadly coronavirus under control.
Now, it looks like trips abroad may be able to go ahead after all following reports the government has signed off plans to form "air bridges" with other nations.
This would allow Brits to visit certain countries without having to quarantine for 14 days when they arrived or when they got back.
It's a promising sign that the Post Office, which processes one in four of all UK currency transactions, is once again letting customers exchange their pounds for foreign cash.
How can I get the best currency rates?
WE spoke with Hannah Maundrell, editor-in-chief at money.co.uk to find out how you can guarantee the best rate when you go on holiday:
- Don’t buy cash at the airport – you’ll always be able to beat the rate with a bit of forward planning.
- Compare travel money companies online –Factor in delivery costs and choose the option that gives you the most cash to spend on holiday. If you’ve left it until the last minute order online for airport collection so you get the best of both worlds.
- Use comparison tools – MoneySavingExpert’s TravelMoneyMax enables you to compare pick-up and pre-order rates.
- Don’t pay for travel money with a credit card – it’s likely you’ll be charged a cash withdrawal fee which adds to the cost.
- Top up a prepaid card to lock in your rate now – Choose your card and read the T&Cs carefully as some apply hefty fees. WeSwap, FairFX and Caxton FX are all worth checking out.
- Always choose to pay in the local currency rather than sterling – This will help you avoid sneaky exchange fees.
From July 1, customers will be able to order their holiday cash online for next day delivery or arrange for it to be collected from one of the 11,500 Post Office branches nationwide.
The Post Office is also opening up its over-the-counter service again.
Of course, it's worth noting that the government hasn't lifted travel bans on non-essential trips, which could invalidate your insurance.
The pound has also taken a plunge since the Covid-19 outbreak, meaning you could get less holiday money that you could before.
The Post Office said its exchange rate research has found sterling is still around 8.2 per cent weaker against the euro than in the middle of February.
But compared with a year ago when Brexit delays impacted the economy, the exchange rate is just 1.4 per cent lower.
Nick Boden, head of Post Office Travel Money said: "We have been monitoring the position carefully in recent weeks and are aware of growing consumer interest in holidays as lockdown rules have relaxed."
He added: "We're following FCO (Foreign and Commonwealth Office) advice closely and we advise holidaymakers to do the same."
You should shop around when it comes to travel money because rates and charges vary between businesses.
But the Post Office has reassured customers that if their upcoming trip gets cancelled they can get a refund, as long as they can provide evidence.
Earlier this month, the Post Office started offering travel insurance policies again, which now provides cover for contracting the coronavirus while overseas.
It means that policy holders are protected for emergency medical and repatriation costs, provided they only travel when there are no Foreign Office restrictions in place.
All travel restrictions are still in place – but you can keep an eye on any changes on the Foreign Office's website here.
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