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Holidaymakers offered less than $1 per £1 at airport – how to get better rates

A photo taken at Gatwick Airport this morning shows that holidaymakers were being offered a shockingly low exchange rate of less than $1 for each £1 – a perfect example of why you shouldn't buy your holiday money at the airport.

MSE Duane, a senior member of our tech team, took the image (below) at Gatwick's North Terminal, which shows Moneycorp's bureau de change selling dollars at a rate of $0.9885 for £1, excluding fees.

When we checked at 10am this morning, the live market rate was $1.22 for every £1.

We've seen reports of the dollar at parity with the pound at some airports in July, but this is the first time this summer we've been contacted (albeit by one of our own) to tell us of it dropping below. Let us know if you've spotted any shocking rates at deputy editor Guy Anker said: "Airport rates are almost always hideous, which is why we always say never, never, never, never buy from there.

"But this takes the biscuit as you're being charged a 20% premium on the real rate. If you need cash in any currency before you go, it's always best to compare rates online instead."

And as a highlight of just what a torrid time holidaymakers have faced this summer, the euro rate of €0.89 seen in the picture below is not one of the worst that's been reported.

The cheapest way to spend abroad is on the right plastic, but if you want cash, speedily compare 30+ bureaux with our TravelMoneyMax comparison tool to find the cheapest travel cash near you.

What does Moneycorp say?

Moneycorp head of retail Pauline Maguire said: "The reason for our higher airport rates are the significant extra costs associated with operating there – from ground rent and additional security, to the cost of staffing the bureaux for customers on early and late flights.

"However, we can promise that we work hard to offer rates that are competitive against our peers and vary only by the exchange rate and the higher costs of offering this service from a particular location. An easy and more cost-effective way for customers to buy travel money is to pre-order online and collect at the airport.

"We always encourage our customers to do this, and increasing numbers of people are planning ahead in this way – we're seeing up to 50% of transactions coming from reserve and collect customers at some of our airport bureaux. Our online reserve and collect rates are always highly competitive."

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