More than half of Britons fail to shop around to check they are getting a good deal on their travel money, research showed today.

About 53% of people said they did not check exchange rates when it came to buying foreign currency, says NatWest Travel Money Services.

Four out of 10 people said they left changing money until less than a week before they were due to leave the UK. One in 10 said they waited until they arrived at their destination. A quarter of people said they found changing money confusing, saying they could not always tell if they were getting a good rate. As a result most people bought their travel money from a bank.

Financial information group Moneyfacts urged consumers to shop around. The group said conversion charges could be as high as 2% with a minimum charge of £5, plus handling charges of more than £5, but it added that many providers changed money commission-free.

Insurance alert

Holidaymakers were urged to check if their insurance policy charges them multiple excesses if they make a claim. Financial information group Defaqto said 73% of single-trip travel insurance policies charged more than one excess on the same claim.

It said that while most consumers were aware they would have to pay the first part of any claim, typically around £50 on a policy, most did not realise insurers may consider some claims to fall into a number of separate categories and charge multiple excesses.

Fly and phone

Communications equipment maker Ericsson introduced a new base station that will let air travellers use their mobile phones during flights.

A base station on the plane would transfer the cell phone signal to a satellite to connect the user's call. An Ericsson spokesman said the calls would not interfere with the plane's electronic systems. The base station would be about £72,400 per plane. Ericsson expects to launch the service in 2006.