TUI Travel Money Review: Fees and Rates Explained 2023
If you’re planning an overseas trip or holiday, you’ll need to work out how to manage your money while you’re away.
Your options include getting foreign currency cash, using a preloaded travel card to buy foreign currency in advance, choosing a dedicated multi-currency card and account, or sticking with your normal bank debit or credit card. Each option has its own advantages and disadvantages - and most travellers choose to use several of these payment methods so there’s always a Plan B available if for some reason your primary payment method can’t be used.
TUI offers both travel money in cash, and the TUI Travel Money Card which is a preloaded multi-currency card. This guide covers all the details you need to know about getting your holiday money through TUI, plus a few alternatives, like Wise debit card or Revolut to compare to make sure you get the best possible deal.
What is TUI Travel Money?
TUI is one of the biggest travel agents in the UK, and also offers travel money services, including travel money for cash collection in 50 currencies, and a travel money card. If you’re ordering your travel money in cash, you’ll have the following options:
Order your travel money in cash online and collect in your local TUI store at any time in the following 2 - 7 days
Order your travel money in cash online by 2pm, to have it delivered to your home by 9pm the following day
TUI doesn’t charge a specific fee for travel money - instead their charges are rolled up into the exchange rate used to convert your pounds to the currency you need. If you’re choosing the home delivery option, there may be a delivery charge depending on how much you’re ordering, and someone must be home to sign for the delivery when it arrives.
While it’s very common for exchange services to state that they offer 0% commission currency conversion, that doesn’t mean that getting your travel money is actually free. We’ll look at the impact of the exchange rates used by TUI on the overall costs of your transaction in more detail later, plus a look at some alternatives which may offer more transparent fees.
If you don’t want foreign currency cash, you can also get a TUI Travel Money Card to hold 13 currencies, which we’ll cover in more detail next.
TUI Travel Money Card
If you’d rather not carry round all your spending money in cash, TUI also offers a dedicated multi-currency card called the TUI Travel Money Card. You can pop into a TUI branch to get 2 linked cards for free, or order online for home delivery. TUI provides 2 cards, so you’ll always have a backup if your primary card is lost - simply activate the second card to get your funds while you’re away.
TUI Travel Money Cards can hold 13 currencies which between them cover many of the popular destinations for British holidaymakers:
New Zealand dollars
South African rand
You’ll be able to top up your card in the currency you need online or in a TUI store, and then spend any currency you hold for free when you travel. If you’re making ATM withdrawals from the card there are fees which are in the region of 1.5 GBP, but varied by currency, and if you spend a currency you don’t hold in your account, there’s a cross-currency fee of 3%.
We’ll cover the full fee details later, but it’s also useful to note that you pay a 2% fee to top up your TUI Travel Money Card in pounds, with no upfront fee to add funds in a foreign currency. This may sound like a great deal, but in reality, it’s likely to simply mean that the fee for topping up in a foreign currency is wrapped up in the exchange rate used to convert your pounds to the currency you need. More on the TUI travel money exchange rates later.
What are the travel money card alternatives?
The TUI Travel Money Card isn’t your only option. Alternative providers may be able to offer more flexibility on the number of supported currencies, a better exchange rate, and lower overall costs. Here are a few to consider:
You can order a Wise card online or via an app, and manage or top up your money electronically whenever you need to. Wise supports over 50 currencies. Top up for free in GBP or another supported currency, with local bank details for up to 10 currencies.
Wise uses the mid-market exchange rate for currency conversion. The Wise card will automatically convert your balance to the currency you need with no extra charges - unlike the TUI Travel Money Card which uses 3% fee when you spend a currency you don’t hold in your account.
Starling is a full UK online bank, which offers a broader range of services compared to TUI. Even if you’re not in the market to get a new bank, a Starling account might be a good option for your travel needs, as accounts are free to open, with no monthly charges, and offer fee-free spending abroad using the Mastercard rate.
You can sign up for Starling online or with your phone in just a few minutes, and manage your account online or through the app easily. Starling works differently to TUI’s travel money card, in that you won’t be able to top up in a broad range of currencies - only pounds or euros. However, whenever you spend or withdraw with your card, Starling will convert your funds to the currency you need with the live Mastercard rate. That’s a popular option because the Mastercard exchange rate is generally very fair, and while it may include a markup, it’s normally very small.
Revolut offers multi-currency accounts which can hold and exchange 30+ currencies, with a linked card to spend in 150+ currencies. You can either choose a free Revolut plan or upgrade to a fee of up to 12.99 GBP/month to get more features. Even with the free Revolut plan you can convert currencies up to 1,000 GBP a month with no fees, and get some fee free international cash withdrawals too. That makes Revolut a strong alternative to the TUI Travel Money Card if you’re looking for fee free transactions.
Revolut accounts also come with additional features, including tools to budget and save, linked children’s accounts, cashback, insurance and travel perks. However, to get the full range of benefits you’ll need to pay a monthly fee.
What are the fees?
Whether you choose to get your travel money in cash from TUI, or prefer to order their dedicated multi-currency card, you’ll have a few costs to pay. Here’s what you need to know.
TUI Travel Money fees
As we mentioned earlier, TUI doesn’t use a specific fee for travel money in foreign currency cash. Instead their charges are added into the exchange rates used, so you’d need to compare the TUI exchange rate against the mid-market rate to be able to calculate the full TUI fee. More on that later.
The only upfront cost you’ll come across with TUI travel money is a delivery charge of 4.99 GBP if you’re ordering cash for home delivery valued at less than 600 GBP.
Tui Travel Money Card fees
Here are the charges you’ll usually see when using a TUI Travel Money Card:
|TUI Travel Money Card service||Fee|
|Top up card balance|
No TUI fee to top up in foreign currencies - exchange rate markups may apply
2% fee to top up in GBP
If you top up with a credit card you may be charged a cash advance fee by your card issuer
|Spend currencies you hold on the card||Free|
|Spend currencies you don’t hold on the card||3%|
TUI fee set according to currency - 1.5 GBP, 1.75 EUR, 2 USD for example
ATM operator fees may also apply
|Cashout at TUI store||Free, but currency buy back rates apply which may mean you get back less than you loaded|
|Card cancellation or redemption via customer services||10 GBP|
|Inactivity fee||2 GBP/month after 24 months of inactivity|
How do I get a TUI travel money card?
You can pick up a TUI Travel Money Card instantly by visiting a TUI store. Alternatively you can order online for store collection - in which case your card will be ready for collection in a couple of days - or home delivery. If you choose the home delivery option it may take up to 2 weeks for your TUI Travel Money Card to arrive.
How do I activate my TUI card?
Depending on how you ordered your card, you may need to activate it before you can use it. You’ll always need to activate the second card provided by TUI if you want to use this instead of your primary card.
If your card needs to be activated, you’ll be able to do so by following the instructions in the letter that comes with your card. You’ll simply need to call the phone number given in the document, and give the activation code which is shown in your paperwork, following automated messages.
How much does it cost to buy travel money from TUI?
It can be a little bit tricky to work out what you’re actually paying when you buy travel money from TUI. That’s because the costs for buying foreign currency cash, or for topping up your travel money card in a foreign currency, are wrapped into the exchange rate that’s used to convert from pounds to the currency you need. That means that to see the actual fees you’re paying you’d need to take the TUI exchange rate and compare it to the mid-market exchange rate.
The mid-market exchange rate is a useful benchmark because this is the rate large providers like TUI get when they buy currencies themselves. To calculate the retail rate they use for their customers, they’ll then add in a percentage fee to cover their costs and generate a profit. This is really common - but makes it very hard to figure out the costs of buying travel money.
A couple of fees that TUI is upfront about include:
2% fee to top up your card in pounds
3% fee to spend a currency you don’t hold
It’s useful to note that the 3% fee applies to any currency you don’t have in your TUI account, even if it’s a currency supported by the card. So let’s say you topped up your card in pounds but spent in France without exchanging your funds. In this case you’d pay the 2% fee at the point of topping up, plus a 3% fee for spending euros when your card only holds pounds. That could mean you have quite a lot less to spend than you think.
What is the TUI exchange rate?
TUI exchange rates for online orders are available on their desktop site. Rates for in store purchases can vary so you’d need to ask in the store when you visit. In both cases, markups - extra fees - are likely to apply.
Not all travel money services bundle their fees into the exchange rates used.
Some of the providers we mentioned earlier as TUI alternatives are good examples. Wise splits out the costs of converting your currency transparently, they use the mid-market rate - and keeps costs down to around 0.4% to 1% for most currencies. Revolut allows customers to convert funds using the mid-market exchange rate up to limits which are set by the plan you choose - again making the process more transparent and keeping costs low.
How does the service work?
You can call into a TUI branch to get your travel money - or order your TUI travel money online for home delivery or in store collection. In this case the process is pretty simple:
Open the TUI website and select the travel money options
Select the currency you need and enter the amount in pounds you want to spend, or the value in foreign currency you want to receive
Add to your basket
Follow the prompts to enter your home delivery address, or the store to collect in
Check over the basket amount and make your payment
You’ll be shown a delivery time, or the earliest possible in store collection time, when you confirm your payment.
If you’d rather get a travel money card you can also order this online for home delivery or pop into a store. If you’re ordering online, simply take the same steps set out above, but select the option to buy a card rather than to get foreign cash. Online deliveries can take 2 weeks to arrive.
TUI has options for getting your travel money including cash for collection or delivery, and the prepaid TUI Travel Money Card. There are usually no upfront fees to pay when you get TUI travel money, but there are costs which are bundled into the exchange rates used. If you choose the travel money card you’ll also run into some other charges such as ATM fees and cross currency fees of 3%.
Depending on your specific needs you may find you can get a more flexible travel card with a different provider, which could also offer lower fees and a better exchange rate. Compare a few options before you pick the perfect travel money solution for your own needs.
TUI Travel Money Review - TUI
TUI issues travel money cards in partnership with Mastercard which is a large, trusted and fully regulated provider of card services. That means any balance you hold is safe - although you’ll still need to take normal common sense precautions to protect your card and account from criminals.
The TUI Travel Money Card can hold euros, US dollars, Australian dollars, Canadian dollars, New Zealand dollars, South African rand, Turkish lira, Thai baht, Mexican peso, Bulgarian lev, Croatian kuna, UAE dirham and pounds sterling.
Order your TUI Travel Money Card online for home delivery, or pop into a TUI store to collect one instantly.