FairFX: should you use them for travel money?
FairFX offer travel money services including foreign cash and prepaid travel cards. They also offer international money transfers. If you’re planning to travel soon and need a convenient and low cost way of paying while you’re abroad you may be considering using FairFX.
This guide covers all you need to know about the services on offer, including the costs, exchange rates available and how to get started with FairFX. We’ll also touch on a couple of alternatives to FairFX.
The verdict - FairFX covers all the travel money basics
Between their prepaid cards and mail-order travel cash service, FairFX has all the basics covered for your holiday, plus a few added perks:
- FairFX offers good rates for currencies used in the most popular holiday destinations for Brits, including Europe, Australia, the USA and Turkey
- FairFX's Linked Cards are a useful addition for families that want to give their children some financial independence when abroad while maintaining oversight of spending
- The cashback offering in the UK (3.5% at selected retailers) is generous and applies at major retailers such as Asda, M&S and Sainsbury's
However, there are some drawbacks:
- There are some notable exceptions where cashback does not apply, such as fuel purchases
- Fully fledged travel debit cards like Starling or Wise can be more flexible and serve you better as a card to use at home and abroad
Learn more on the FairFX website or keep reading for an in-depth review of their travel money offering.
FairFX Currency Card
You can order a FairFX currency card and additional linked cards (more on those later) online and they’ll usually be delivered by post in 3 to 5 business days. Top up funds onto your FairFX currency card in any of the 15 supported currencies and spend any currency you hold for no extra fee.
If you need to convert currencies in your card balance you’ll be able to see the FairFX exchange rate online or in the FairFX app.
Depending on the type of exchange, it’s likely that some of the rates you get will include a markup - which is an extra fee added into the mid-market rate you’ll see on Google.
This can push up your overall costs and makes it trickier to see what you’re paying for your holiday money.
Not all providers add a markup to the exchange rate used to convert from pounds to whichever currency you need for your travels.
More on some FairFX alternatives coming up later, including some which use the mid-market rate and low, transparent fees to make it easier and cheaper to spend internationally.
How do I top up a FairFX card?
Top up online using your FairFX account, or download the app and top up on your mobile phone. You can pay for your foreign currency via credit card, debit card or bank transfer.
What are Linked Cards?
One neat feature you can get with FairFX is Linked Cards.
This means you can open a FairFX account and order multiple cards to be linked to the same account. The primary card holder can then set and review the balances available on the Linked Card(s).
This can be handy if you’re travelling as a group for example and want to hold one balance for holiday money, but offer independent spending to individuals. For a family holiday you could give older children their own Linked Cards for example, to help them manage their spending money - or you could give a card to a babysitter or carer who may need to spend on behalf of others from the joint fund.
FairFX cashback scheme
If you use your prepaid card to pay for things in the UK, FairFX offer up to 3.5% cashback at selected retailers.
This includes high-street staples like Sainsbury's, Asda and M&S. However, there are some notable exceptions in the cashback scheme, such as fuel purchases. Read this review's FAQs for a full list of participating stores and exceptions.
FairFX travel cash
Aside from the FairFX Currency Card you can also use FairFX to get cash for your travels.
Order any of up to 40 major currencies online and either collect your cash in person or have it delivered right to your door for convenience. If you’re collecting foreign currency cash in London it could be ready for you in as little as 15 minutes.
Delivery costs apply which can vary based on when you get your money and the value of the payment. Here’s what you need to know.
FairFX travel cash delivery fees
|Currency value of below £500||Currency value of £500 to £750||Currency value of £750+|
|Next working day delivery fee||£7.50||£5.00||Free|
|Saturday delivery fee||£10.50||£8.00||£3|
|Collection in London fee||Free||Free||Free|
FairFX exchange rates
It’s worth noting that FairFX exchange rates for travel currency cash and for spending on the currency card may vary.
If you use the FairFX buy back service to convert your unused travel funds back to GBP in cash, you’ll likely get a worse rate than was offered in the first place.
While this can vary significantly based on the currencies involved and due to fluctuations in the exchange markets, this could mean you get a rate that’s on average around 9% worse than the selling rate (checked 17 Oct 2022).
How does the travel cash rate compare to the Currency Card rate?
A comparison of the FairFX exchange rates (17 October 2022) offered for travel cash vs those available for conversions on the FairFX card shows that cash rates are usually worse by an average of 3%.
FairFX limits and fees
There are some fees you’ll want to know about when using FairFX, as well as limits to card use and spending. First let’s look at the fees for transactions and card use:
|Transaction type||FairFX fee|
|Order a FairFX card||Your first card, plus linked cards, are free|
Replacement cards cost up to 6 GBP
|ATM withdrawals||1 GBP|
|Over the counter withdrawals||2 GBP +3.75%|
|Spending with your card||No fee to spend a currency you hold in your account|
1.75% for other currency spending
|Refund fee||5 GBP|
|Inactivity fee||2 GBP/month for expired cards with remaining balance|
There are also a few important limits to know about:
|Transaction/service type||FairFX limit|
|Minimum single top up amount||50 GBP|
|Maximum single top up amount||12,500 GBP|
|Maximum balance||50,000 GBP|
|Maximum top ups||4 per day|
|Maximum ATM withdrawal||1,500 GBP per day |
This can only be withdrawn in amounts of up to 500 GBP at a time, so you’ll have to pay the ATM fee several times to exhaust this maximum withdrawal
What are the alternatives?
FairFX isn’t the only travel money provider out there.
In fact you’ve got a pretty good selection of options to choose from, including specialist services which offer prepaid travel cards, financial technology companies with multi-currency accounts and debit cards and low cost neobanks.
Prepaid travel cards vs multi-currency debit cards
If you’re not sure about whether a travel card or an international debit card will suit you best it helps to know that prepaid cards usually need to be topped up with cash, or electronically using via a card payment. You’ll then be able to use the card to spend and make withdrawals, although fees may apply.
With travel debit cards you’ll often find you get banking details, such as your own account number and sort code for the UK, plus details for other currencies depending on the provider.
You can then use these to have other people transfer money to your account in multiple currencies, which is often more flexible than a standard prepaid travel card.
Here are some top picks for FairFX alternatives for you to consider.
If you transact mainly in GBP, EUR or RON, Monese might be the account for you. Get started online with just your normal ID document, and get local bank details for the UK and EUR, to get paid easily. You’ll be able to convert and make payments in supported currencies with no extra fees during the week, although an extra charge may apply outside of banking hours.
Post Office travel card
If you’re thinking a prepaid travel money card might be right for you, check out the Post Office Travel Money Card which lets you top up in cash and online, in 23 supported currencies. You can then use your card when you travel, reload if needed, and manage your money from the Post Office app.