US Dollars

Should i buy my US dollars now??

  • Yes - buy now, it'll only get worse

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • No - wait because it'll get better

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • Haven't a clue - blow it all on red 27

    Votes: 0 0.0%

  • Total voters
I'm off to the states at the end of April for a bit of a holiday. Now I know c0ck all about economics / exchanges rates etc etc.

The question is, should I buy my dollars now or wait a few weeks???
Unless you're planning to exchange a large amount of money, it's not really going to make a lot of difference. If there was any change in the exchange rate large enough to make a serious dent in your wallet in the next month it would probably alter your holiday plans.
Unless you are planning on converting a significant amount then it really won't make a significant change (probably the cost of a beer or three).

Taking in the spread of the USD vs GBP over the past 12 months, it has traded around a median of about 2.01 USD to 1 GBP. Recent lows are of 1.94 and a high of 2.02 USd to GBP.

Bear in mind that the UK economy is strongly linked to that of the US, that the US has dramatically cut interest rates to try and head off a recession while the Bank of England has held rates steady. Also consider the influence of the current oil price (recently touched 108USd a barrel) and you come out with the following answer:

Don't worry about it. You will still get an effing cheap holiday!

The effect of differences are thus:

Change 5,000GBP and the difference between the highest and lowest rate (2.02 and 1.94) and the difference is 400USD.

Change 3,000GBP and it becomes 240USD

Change 1,000 GBP and it becomes 80 USD.

If the rate changes between 1.98 and 2.0, then the difference (on changing 1,000 GBP) is 20USd (10 quid).

More important for you than commercially available exchange rates is what rate your bank will give you, compared to Thomas Cook or somewhere else. This can be the most significant difference (and can add into hundreds of pounds as there are some seriously crap exchange rates to be had). My suggestion would be to sit down with a phone and call your bank, travel agent and exchange and see which one has the best rate (and try and get a forces discount). Remember that there is no such thing as a "commission free" exchange: they simply hide the charge in a crap exchange rate.

If you buy loads of clothes or any other items in the US, remember to remove all labels and if possible wash clothing and play with gadgets to make them all appear used: this is so the UK customs officer doesn't make you pay Import Duty and VAT on everything you bring back (tip is to post guarantees to yourself from the US so labels and prices are not in your baggage).

PS George Soros: American Hungarian who made about 4billion USD in one day betting that Sterling would collapse against the USD and be forced out of the European ERM. With a help of a few friends he achieved this. Norman Lamont spent almost 7 billion pounds trying to stop him.
In my experience, the best way of getting cash overseas is usually from an ATM machine as you get commercial rates. Check with your card-issuer though, as some will charge additional FX commission, because they can.

Oh, and you can often get better rates buying travellers' cheques than cash.
My usual rule of thumb for any foreign currency is only to buy a small ammount prior to going, enough to cover initial expenses (taxis, beer, meals, etc) the first night/day therethat may not be easy to put on the credit card.

Odds are you'll get a slightly better rate there than in the UK although as noted probably not much of a difference.

Also check to see if your ATM or bank/credit card will work there (in the US it should, I've drawn cash from machines in Morocco and Cuba among other 3rd world shitholes) and what the fees are. Drawing local currency from a cash machine is usually faster and the exchange is computed at bank rate.
I think Nationwide and the Post Office offer a commission free currency transaction credit card? Commission normally eats up 2% so it's worth it.

Don't quote me on the names of the cards.

box-of-frogs said:
Cheers all. Vegas here i come - i'll soon be up there with George Soros in terms of cash once i've put it all on red 27! 8O
If you are visiting Vegas, remember that everything is geared to the gambler. Use the better hotels; I hesitate to suggest that you "big up" your gambling prowess, but that is what drives Vegas. I had a fabulous holiday in a 5* hotel and it cost peanuts because they thought I was about to gamble my life savings! Suckers!

But it's another world, so tread carefully!

Just back from the USA. You'll not be losing or making much as the current fluctuation isn't much - just make sure you have a backup fund if you lose the plot in Vegas - I've seen it before.
Also - the Nationwide credit/debit card is a great option - the best deal of them all not having the 2.75% overseas purchase loading on it.
Remember the local sales tax getting added to purchases at the till.

The 'Time Out' guide to Vegas is rated as one of the best - and covers all the variances in the gambling - like USA roulette tables having a double zero on them, increasing the odds in favour of the house.

Check out 'The Boot Barn' if you are in Vegas - as well as the dubious cowboy boots they have loads of Carhartt & Dickies stuff well cheap.
Dread said:
PS George Soros: American Hungarian who made about 4billion USD in one day betting that Sterling would collapse against the USD and be forced out of the European ERM. With a help of a few friends he achieved this. Norman Lamont spent almost 7 billion pounds trying to stop him.
Spent? Spaffed up the wall more like; it must be fun spooging tax-payers money at that rate. I hope it made up for his entry into the 'Top-ten All-time Sh!test Chancellors Ever!'. He might as well have taken it down the casino and put it all on 13 at the roulette wheel. :roll:

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