A growing trend in ‘last minute’ currency exchange at airports is costing UK travellers £28m a year, according to the Post Office. The average customer, changing £286 to Euros, stands to lose a good £16 more at an airport bureau de change, than they would on the high street.
Last month, the Post Office found that Birmingham Airport was offering an exchange rate of €1.02 to the pound, when the official rate was closer to €1.19. Liverpool was also overcharging customers, offering a rate of €1.06 to the pound.
Researchers note that up to 1.2m million people could have been left short-changed by the excessive rates.
Sarah Munro, boss of travel money at the Post Office, helped to put the average loss into perspective – ‘in Portugal, this year’s best value destination, £16 could buy a round of drinks and eight ice creams.’
The value of the Euro fell earlier this year, in the wake of Greece’s spiralling debt problems, and has yet to make a full recovery. Travellers should be enjoying good conversion rates. The pound is experiencing a ten-month high over the Euro, which ended two days ago worth 83.91p, up from a low of 81.06p in June 2010.
Entrepreneur and founder of MoneySupermarket.com, Martin Lewis, claims that bureaux de change at UK airports are ‘convenience services,’ which typically charge a rate that is 7-8% higher than their counterparts on Britain’s high streets.
Alongside the £11 Air Passenger Duty and the fuel surcharges imposed by airlines, the exchange rate ‘rip-off,’ to quote the Express newspaper, further devalues the budget holiday industry, by adding hidden charges on to a trip that may have otherwise been inexpensive.