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Take care when returning unused currency

What’s the difference between ‘no commission’ and ‘no charge’? Well it could be quite a lot for any holidaymakers arriving back from a recent half term break with unspent currency in their pockets. Many of us rush straight back to the place we bought our currency from when we get home to try to swap any holiday money that we haven’t used. Many currency providers make a great play of telling you that they won’t charge commission when you take back unused currency after your holiday. But that doesn’t mean you’ll get all of your money back!

And it doesn’t just happen when you come back from a holiday. I got an email recently from someone who took some money back after having to cancel a holiday due to illness. They were offered £76 back for every £100 they exchanged the week before.

And the other £24 isn’t a commission charge, because the company advertises the fact that they don’t charge commission when people return unused currency. It was purely the difference between the price at which the company sells currency and the price at which it buys it back. And every company that sells currency operates in the same way. It’s a loss that can’t be claimed back elsewhere – this type of expense is not covered in a travel insurance policy so you won’t be able claim it back there.

In this particular case our reader got lucky because some come companies do have a policy of repaying you in full in certain circumstances, and cancellation due to illness was one such circumstance.

If you haven’t been away yet, or as a reminder for your next holiday, it’s not just a case of looking for the best rate when you go to exchange your money, or looking at the commission charged when you purchase currency. You also have to be mindful of how much you’ll get back if you don’t use the money you exchanged in the first place. And that means studying the differences between the ‘we buy at’ and ‘we sell at’ columns before parting with your hard-earned cash.

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