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Foreign currency and exchange rates: Payment methods explained

There are various ways you can buy foreign currency for travel money or for large money transfers such as buying property abroad. You can buy foreign currency using a Foreign Exchange Company, pay using PayPal for the foreign currency conversion, buy travellers cheques or use a currency top-up card. You can also buy travel money online at competitive exchange rates and have it delivered to your address or manage it online. There are also various places you can go to buy foreign currency such as your local bank, bureau de change or even at the airport before departure. Get a FREE quote with no obligation to buy or sell.

Methods of buying foreign currency

Cash via the post to your address the next day

Convert money from your bank account using a bank transfer or debit card payment and receive your foreign currency in the post to your address the next day before 1pm.

PayPal foreign currency

If you buy something from abroad on eBay, a shop that accepts PayPal, or you have a friend, family member or know someone else who has a PayPal account simply add money to your PayPal account and when making the currency payment choose the foreign currency to pay the recipient in. You will then see displayed the cost in your home currency before making the payment. You can also use a credit card to fund the payment. PayPal foreign currency exchange rates are calculated on the payment screen and you can see the currency conversion rate before clicking to complete your order online.

PayPal fees (either the sender or recipient pays the PayPal transaction fees)

When making an international payment using PayPal to pay someone or a company the sender decides whether they (the sender) or the recipient pays the fees. The PayPal fees are calculated depending on how the payment is funded. If you are sending money direct from your PayPal account (or using your PayPal linked bank account) the fees range dependent on the countries that you are sending money between (for example, PayPal payments between most European countries range from approx. 0.4% to 1.0%). However, if you are sending the payment using PayPal funded by a debit or credit card, the PayPal payment fees are approximately 3.9% per transaction amount. For example if you are sending £100 via PayPal you can expect to pay £3.90 in PayPal fees.

If you are looking for an alternative to PayPal, TransferWise offers excellent exchange rates for money transfers that are small in amount (similar to PayPal where increases in fees make foreign purchases more expensive the higher the value). You can also fund a TransferWise account using PayPal. If you want to transfer a large amount of money you should consider OFX and other suitable large money transfer companies.

Read our TransferWise Vs PayPal Comparison where we compare the two currency exchange companies

If you are looking for travel money please go to the Travel Money page.

If you are looking for information on setting up a business and selling on ebay and the affect of exchange rates see the international business page.

Business Currency with PayPal

Read our guide to Business Foreign Currency Payments. eBay and Amazon online sellers can open foreign exchange currency accounts to benefit from better exchange rates compared with using a bank or PayPal.

Using credit cards abroad

Credit cards are good to use abroad because you often do not pay fees (check your credit card provider for their fees) and you get the latest exchange rates. You may like to download our exchange rates app before you travel to calculate prices when abroad before paying with your credit card.

Prepaid currency card

Simply add foreign currency to your card before you travel and then pay using the prepaid top-up card. This is very similiar to using a debit card.

Travellers Cheques

With a travellers cheque you are required to sign each cheque. This make it the most secure way to buy and travel with foreign currency. If you lose your travellers cheque or it is stolen you can get replacement travellers cheques. The problem with travellers cheques is handling fees, commission charges, cashing in fees, etc. making it in many cases the most expensive option.

Airport foreign currency

Money transfers are available at all international airports. Bureaux de Change at airports are the most expensive ways to transfer money.

Forex company recommendation: moneycorp

We have partnered with moneycorp currency broker to offer you money transfers at competitive exchange rates. Buy foreign currency cash. Alternatively store the money in a foreign currency account and pay abroad using your debit card.