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The best and worst airports to buy last minute foreign currency

Written by: Paloma Kubiak
Holidaymakers exchanging money last minute at the airport get better rates in London compared with regional hubs.
The best and worst airports to buy last minute foreign currency

A survey of ten major UK airports to see which had the best and worst exchange rates for euros and dollars found there is a massive divide – up to 13% or an average of £100 – between those offered in and out of the capital.

The research from foreign exchange specialists Caxton FX found that when it comes to buying euros, Heathrow and Gatwick top the table for best value – travellers get €1.07 for every pound.

At the bottom of the table, West Country fliers travelling from Bristol get just over one euro (€1.0008) for each pound and Scottish fliers get a similar rate going through Edinburgh (€1.0070).

Although the gap looks small, there is 10% between the best and worst so on an exchange of £1,000, this could mean the difference of €70 – the cost of a meal out for a family in Spain.


For those travelling to America this summer, there’s a similar disparity in rates for dollars.

London airport Heathrow topped the table for offering $1.19 for every pound.

But once again Bristol offered the worst rates with holidaymakers getting just $1.05 for each pound – a difference of nearly 13%.

This means a family travelling to America with £1,000 of holiday money would get $1,190 if they exchange it at Heathrow and only $1,054 if they exchange it at Bristol – a difference of $136, which equates to two meals for a family of four in an average American restaurant.


While this is good news for those flying from Heathrow and Gatwick and not so good if you’re departing from Bristol, a way to secure a better rate could be via a prepaid card.

Rupert Lee Browne, CEO of Caxton FX said: “Currency exchange bureaus at the airport have a captive audience, so they can offer outrageously poor rates and are still confident that people will purchase foreign currency from them.

“With the pound at a 31-year low against the US dollar, and a two-year low against the euro, every bit counts, so be smart when it comes to your holiday money.”

See’s The big Brexit question: what should I do about buying holiday currency for more information if you’re heading abroad this summer.

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