LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM--(Marketwire -06/08/12)- England football fans face losing over a million Pounds in the Ukraine during Euro 2012, according to leading foreign currency specialists, Travelex.(1)
All three England group matches are to be played in the Ukraine and supporters are being warned there is a lack of availability of the Ukrainian currency in the UK, which could lead to fans paying up to 7%(2) more when exchanging their pounds for Hryvnia abroad.
It could mean that a fan exchanging GBP 500 could pay up to GBP 35 in extra charges.
Between 10,000 to 30,000 fans are expected to travel abroad and the foreign exchange provider has already been inundated with calls from fans questioning what currency they should take with them. Travelex is urging football fans to be well-prepared as getting hold of the local currency in Ukraine could be confusing and prove expensive.
Hryvnia, Euros and US Dollars are all legal tender in the Ukraine, but some local shops will only take local currency, while others will only take Dollars. Further still, research by Travelex has revealed that many banks and hotel bureaus will only let fans exchange Pounds into Euros or Dollars by first exchanging into the local currency. Whilst this is often standard practice for those exchanging outside of the 'home' currency, this could mean that fans will get stung for exchange rates twice.
At Pravex bank in Kiev, GBP 1 must first be exchanged for 12 Hryvnia. 12 Hryvnia can then be exchanged for $1.20, meaning that fans effectively get a rate of just GBP 1 = $1.20. Compare this to the travelex.co.uk rate on the same day of GBP 1 = $1.57 and it is clear that fans risk losing out, being 31% (37 Cents) worse off on each Pound exchanged.(3)
As local currency is not widely available to buy in the UK the advice from Travelex is to take a prepaid card, which lets travellers pay for purchases directly but also enables them to use ATMs to withdraw cash in the local currency, with fees far less than that of exchanging in a hotel bureau or bank.
The Foreign Office has recommended that if fans do need to change currency whilst they are out there, they use banks rather than bureaus, and suggest fans don't carry too much cash around due to the risk of crime. The US Department of State go one step further, instructing travellers to the Ukraine not to declare they have cash on their person.
Fans already face hugely inflated hotel, drink and food costs. Drinks prices are usually amongst the cheapest in Europe, but reports have shown that a half-litre of lager is set to soar from 65p to GBP 1.95(4) over the period of the Euros - an increase of 300%. Hotel owners in the capital Kiev have also been charging extortionate fees for basic rooms - up to GBP 1,000 a night -leading even UEFA to comment on the situation.(5)
Elvin Eldic, Travelex, comments: "With so many mixed messages, inflated costs and a significant lack of understanding by many British fans as to how much items should actually cost, it is clear that many are walking into the unknown.
"Travelex are calling on all football fans to take care and protect themselves as far as possible from the currency risks whilst abroad. By using a prepaid card, changing currency online before leaving, and having an idea of exchange rates before they go, fans can avoid being ripped off and importantly get on with enjoying the matches and supporting their team."
There is better news for fans also travelling to matches in Poland. The Polish Zloty is readily available online and the Pound is very strong against the Zloty at the moment, up over 16% year on year and being worth GBP 70 more on every GBP 500 exchanged. (6) Prepaid cards can also be used in both the Ukraine and Poland, meaning that repeated exchanges are unnecessary.
To help fans avoid currency pitfalls, Travelex have put together the top five tips for Brits heading abroad for the Euros:
1. Take a prepaid card as well as cash - the Globe card provides the cheapest exchange rates and can be used in both the Ukraine and Poland and withdrawals of local currency can be made without ATM fees 2. Ask for price up front and calculate value on your smartphone 3. Keep the receipts when abroad 4. Buy currency online before you go from www.travelex.co.uk. As supply of the Hryvnia may be limited Travelex advise fans to purchase a combination of local Ukrainian currency (if available), and Euros - this means that fans will be well prepared for most eventualities 5. Avoid making numerous exchanges abroad
(1) Calculated using the average loss of GBP 35 in charges per person (see footnote 2) x 30,000 fans = GBP 1,050,000
(2) Rates calculated using comparison of GBP 500 exchanged at Pravex Bank compared to GBP 500 taken out on a Globe card, including all charges. Pravex Bank rate - GBP 1 = 12 Hryvnia. Globe rate - GBP 1 = 13.007 Hryvnya, with a 1.49% charge (GBP 7.45). Rates correct as of 08/05/12
(3) GBP 1 = $1.57 - Rate correct as of 08/05/12 - travelex.co.uk
(6) 08/05/12 rate - GBP 1 = 4.8102 Zloty. 10/05/11 rate - GBP 1 = 4.1328 Zloty - travelex.co.uk
Travelex is the world's largest foreign exchange specialist with over 1,100 stores and 850 ATMs across 23 countries, at key airport, seaport, rail and tourist locations. Over 40% of travellers - 1.7 billion passengers a year - pass through airports where Travelex operates including the major gateways at Amsterdam, Beijing, Frankfurt, Hong Kong, London, Mumbai, New York, Paris, Rome, Sydney & Tokyo. Every hour, Travelex provides foreign currency to more than 2,000 customers.
TRAVELEX ONLINE & THE TRAVELEX PRICE PROMISE:
Travelex.co.uk, is committed to offering the best price, commission-free foreign currency in the UK. Every day Travelex.co.uk monitors the exchange rates of major banks, High Street foreign currency providers (Travel Agencies, The Post Office, M&S) and a basket of other online providers to ensure we offer customers the best deal. In the unlikely event that we are beaten on any of our 60+ currencies, we will refund the difference.