pancakelizard

Florida spending money and best exchange rates…

Posted on September 14, 2012

Should i buy my dollars now, or should i wait till nearer the time? what if it suddenly drops massively? do you think it will go up in the next few weeks?

questions like these get asked all the time on thedibb, and if any of us could answer it, we wouldnt be spending our days posting on bulletin boards, we would be out there making millions of pounds for large banks! Theres no way to tell whether it will go up or down, and people who remember the period where it was $2 to the pound or higher long for those days to come back.... it aint gonna happen anytime soon, so dont hold your breath!

In reality, the $2=£1 thing was a blip on an otherwise relatively stable chart. the fact is, prices have hovered around the 1.50-1.60 mark for most of the time. And if youre worried about it going up or down before you go, hedge your best! buy some NOW, and the rest just before you go, that way it evens out over the two periods. should you wait an extra day or two as it has been rising recently? maybe. who knows!? it might just go back down again, and youll be kicking yourself over it. BUY CURRENCY AT AN EXCHANGE RATE YOU ARE HAPPY WITH!set yourself a mental note of a price you will be happy with. for me it is $1.55 or above. $1.60 or above i will be VERY happy with!

So where is best to get money from? and should i use cash? travellers cheques? prepay mastercard? or just my normal credit/debit card?

again, different methods suit different people. personally though, travellers cheques are a thing of the past. and ALL CASH is also a bad idea - check your travel insurance, i bet you it doesnt cover you for losses of more than a few hundred dollars in cash! (also, check your house insurance, a similar rule will be in place if you get burgled before you go on holiday)

In America, the credit card is king. it is accepted literally everywhere. americans use them like we use debit cards. in the UK though, a lot of cards carry conversion/transaction fees, so using it to pay for a $25 meal probably isnt the best ides. this is where PREPAY MASTERCARDS come in useful!

I use a FairFX card and have done since 2008, it is consistently one of the best exchange rates, and usually a LOT better than nipping to your local bureau de change (and dont even THINK about buying at the airport unless you have prepaid online!). as always though, dont put all your eggs in one basket! this is what i usually do:

  • a few hundred dollars in cold hard cash for spending on tips, tolls/parking and the handful of other places where cash is easier (ice cream stands in the parks for example!) - if i need more cash, i go to an ATM and withdraw it from the prepay card.
  • around $1000-1500 on the fairfx prepay card. if topups are needed, i do this online whilst at the villa
  • multiple credit cards for larger purchases and emergencies
the multiple options are necessary. there have been occasions where people have had problems using their prepay card due to a bank outage. you should ALWAYS have a backup form of payment! what if you get ill and need urgent medical treatment? yes, your insurance will (probably) cover it, but theres a good chance you will have to pay something out to begin with before you can claim it back again. having credit available doesnt mean i'm going to go nuts on my spending though! only spend what you can afford to pay back! 🙂
but yeah. i cannot fault the fairfx card. they also have a pretty good rate for actual cash too. and if you click this link, you can get a FREE CARD (it is usually a tenner if you go via the main website)

have a read on MSE, they are much better at explaining all the technicalities and stuff as well as keeping up to date with what is the best deal

finally, how much should you budget for?

this is like asking how long a piece of string is! how much can you afford? how many of you are going? for how long? are you staying in a hotel or villa? are you planning on eating out all the time, or just some of the time?

from personal experience, for two of us, staying in a villa for two weeks, and cooking at least one meal a day in the villa, we budget (and manage easily on) $100 a day between us. some days you will spend more, some days less. but it all averages out. this doesnt include park tickets and other excursions, or large items whilst shopping, but includes everything else. on $150 a day between us, we could live like kings! 🙂

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