As many people are set to head off to Europe for their summer holidays, a new research from travel insurance specialistHolidaysafe.co.uk has shown that many will be packing incorrectly, with one in 10 respondents admitting that they had gone on holiday with the wrong currency.

The introduction of the Euro in 1999 made travel in Europe easier – rather than needing to have separate currencies for each country, it was now possible to use one currency across several parts of Europe. Many people have been caught out as they assume that all European countries will always take Euros

One example that commonly confuses holidaymakers is Turkey, where the official currency is Turkish lira. Holidaysafe’s survey results found that over half (58%) of respondents would take Euros when going to Turkey.

Croatia, a popular destination for festival-goers and beach-lovers alike is a member of the EU, and is often mistaken for a Eurozone country when the currency is the Croatian kuna. Holidaysafe data found that almost one in 10 of people had admitted to taking Euros to Croatia.

Almost one in seven (13%) of those who had struggled with currency stated that they had had trouble with popular wedding destination Cyprus, with confusion between using the Euro in Cyprus and Turkish lira in the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus.

A spokesman for Holidaysafe said:“Cash can prove to be extremely useful when going abroad, especially if you are travelling to Greece with the current threat of the ‘Grexit’. Holidaysafe recommends that you check the cash limits on your travel insurance policy to make sure you are adequately covered and consider taking out a travel insurance policy with a higher level of cover for cash if you are planning on carrying large amounts of currency. Precautions such as always keeping cash in a locked safe or keeping it on your person should always be taken.”

New research from The Royal Mint’s bullion trading website, www.royalmintbullion.com, has revealed that since its launch in September 2014 it has attracted more than 10,000 new customers, many of whom are experiencing for the first time the pleasure of owning precious metals.

The Royal Mint’s bullion website was launched with the intention of making buying gold more accessible to the public and after the initial launch of gold and silver coins followed by Royal Mint Refinery bars the website attracted customers with an average order in excess of £3,000.

Continuing its strategy of making gold accessible to all, earlier this month The Royal Mint launched Signature Gold, a new addition to its bullion trading service. Opening up the world of gold ownership to everybody, Signature Gold guarantees customers full ownership of their gold with an entry-level minimum order value of just £20.

Signature Gold allows customers to purchase and own a fractional amount of a 400oz gold bar. These large bars of gold allow The Royal Mint to offer economies of scale and pass on the savings to the consumer. It also enables customers to purchase gold based on value rather than weight, providing increased control and flexibility.

Since its launch Signature Gold has proven to be attractive to a new audience looking for a lower entry point to the joy of gold ownership. While the launch of coins and bars led to an average order value in excess of £3,000, Signature Gold customers have been ordering on average £250. Signature Gold is the most cost effective way to own physical gold from The Royal Mint and offers customers a complete end-to-end service from initial purchase to sale.

The Royal Mint’s existing bullion trading website allows customers to buy, store and sell bullion directly from The Royal Mint quickly, effortlessly and securely, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Signature Gold has expanded this to include the option to purchase a fraction of a solid gold bar – providing flexibility and simplification in bullion trading.

More than one in five pensioners are concerned they will run out of money in retirement as they spend their savings to maintain a comfortable lifestyle, according to new research from MetLife.

The Cost of Retirement index, which looks at the finances of the UK’s 10 million-plus retired people, reveals the average pensioner household income is a relatively comfortable £22,740 – but the financial strains mean 22% are concerned that they are spending their savings too fast.

More than half of UK pensioners (51%) have some form of debt – nearly two out of five say they owe money on credit cards while 16% are still paying off mortgages.

Those who have savings are sitting on average cash deposits of £25,000 and investments worth around £55,000. But nearly one in ten have no cash savings and 45% say they have no investments.

MetLife believes the fears over running out of money highlight the need for careful planning and  a level of guaranteed  income in retirement.

A spokesman for MetLife UK, said: “Pensioners need certainty in retirement and it is worrying that so many are uncertain whether their retirement savings will last.

“That should act as a wake-up call for almost of those planning to take advantage of pension freedoms – the flexibility is very welcome but they need to ensure they have a guaranteed income for life to enable them to plan for the future.

“Retirement income solutions which can offer guarantees on capital and income will become even more important now that pension freedoms have come into effect.”

Almost three in five British parents with children aged 17-25 contribute financially to their child’s motoring costs, according to research revealed today by automotive servicing company Kwik Fit.  The average contribution towards these motoring costs is £381 per year, resulting in a total annual cost to the nation’s parents of £2bn.

One in five parents say they will buy a car for their child or contribute towards their first car purchase, 16% help cover the cost of car maintenance including servicing and MOTs, 15% help with insurance costs, and 11% help fund any repairs after an accident.

When asking their parents for help with their motoring budget, young drivers would be wise to approach mum first. Mothers appear to be more generous, saying that on average they spend £396 on their child’s motoring, compared to £367 for dads.  Many parents spend a lot more than this – 9% say they spend more than £1,000 a year on their child’s motoring.

 

While motoring can be costly, it is vital that all drivers, but especially younger ones, do not cut corners that comprise their safety.  Kwik Fit is a founding supporter of the ‘New to the Road’ campaign, set up to improve the safety of young motorists, which gives drivers lots of advice on how to keep their costs down while staying safe.

Young drivers remain disproportionately likely to be involved in a road accident compared to other road users – and it is vital that they are given the education and advice to help reduce the number of collisions.

The campaign is also giving new drivers the chance to keep this year’s costs to a minimum by having their motoring costs paid for a year (they will just have to pay for fuel and tax). New to the Road supporters, Kwik Fit Insurance, will provide a year’s insurance cover; Goodyear, a new set of tyres; Kwik Fit will provide servicing and MOT, and RED Driving School will offer up to 20 hours of free driving lessons or advanced driver training.

The competition is open to anyone between the age of 16-24 who is yet to take their driving test, or who has passed their test in the last three years and can be entered at www.newtotheroad.co.uk/competition.  The competition closes on 30 June 2015.

A spokesman for Kwik Fit, said: “Becoming a motorist and passing the driving test is exciting, but it can also be expensive, particularly for young people who are unlikely to have much in the way of spare income. There’s often a temptation to cut corners to help bring costs down but this is likely to be at the expense of safety, so it’s good to see parents are keen to help cover these costs.”

 

Retired homeowners have seen their property wealth grow by more than £12.5 billion in the past three months as house prices continue to climb earning the average pensioner nearly £900 a month, a new report from  over-55s financial specialist Key Retirement shows.

Pensioners who own their homes outright have gained an average of £2,680 each from their houses in the past three months taking their property wealth to a new record high.

In the five years since Key started monitoring the housing wealth of the over-65s, in January 2010, total pensioner property wealth has increased by 12% or £93.85 billion which equates to £20,000 on average for every homeowner.

Its Pensioner Property Index shows over-65 homeowners now own property wealth of £873.77 billion outright with pensioners across almost all of the UK benefiting.

The growth in property prices will drive expansion of the equity release market which enables homeowners to release wealth from their homes – Key’s figures showed.

Retired homeowners in London were the biggest winners gaining an average of around £16,260 each in the past three months, while homeowners in Scotland are more than £8,650 better off and pensioners in Yorkshire & Humberside are £4,063 better off.

However retired homeowners in Wales saw a fall in housing wealth with average losses of £2,230 in the three months while the North West and West Midlands also saw house price falls.

. Nearly two-thirds of pensioner property wealth is concentrated in London, the South East, the South West and East Anglia.

A spokesman for Key Retirement, said: “Retired homeowners have huge assets in their houses with total property wealth hitting another all-time high of £873 billion highlighting the growing importance of housing for retirement planning.

“No matter what happens in the property market homeowners will always have a major asset which should be considered as part of retirement planning. Innovation in the equity release market and the launch of pension freedoms are opening up more ways for homeowners to use their property wealth.

“Retired homeowners, and those approaching retirement, should take advice on how their property wealth can generate additional capital and/or income. Advisers and lenders need to focus on a holistic approach to retirement planning which ensures that property wealth is considered alongside pension savings and other investments.”

New research from Caxton FX, reveals that consumers are still getting caught out by Dynamic Currency Conversion (DCC), costing British holidaymakers up to an estimated £292 million in debit/credit card charges abroad.

DCC occurs whenever someone who is travelling abroad opts to pay for goods, or withdraw cash from an ATM in pounds, rather than the local currency. This is an option presented upon payment; customers may think it is cheaper to pay in Sterling but it is actually the opposite. The typical charge for opting to pay in pounds is around 4 per cent, plus a poor exchange rate which will have been set by the merchant undertaking the transaction.

According to the findings, over half of Brits said they plan to get cash out with their debit or credit card at an ATM machine whilst on holiday, with over 20 million of them opting to withdraw the money in pounds rather than the foreign currency – exposing themselves to the 4 per cent charge.

Additionally, 30 per cent opt to pay for goods in pounds rather than foreign currency when purchasing goods over the counter with their credit/debit card – equating to over 60 per cent of all respondents falling victim to the poor exchange rates and extra charges as a result of Dynamic Currency Conversion.

James Hickman, Managing Director of Caxton FX said: “It’s clear to see there remains a lack of consumer awareness around DCC charges, with a staggering number of people still getting caught out at the cash point. Ahead of the summer, we’re really trying to warn people of the pitfalls, after all, these extra charges over the course of a holiday can add up to a serious amount of cash.”

The average amount Brits spend on a week’s holiday is £360, and according to the research, over 20 per cent of British holidaymakers will withdraw over £200 of this spending money from an ATM machine whilst away. A further third (34 per cent) admit to being totally in the dark when it comes to card charges, having no idea what costs they incur from this.

 

Payday loan providers are finding life tough amid tighter regulation and a cap on charges with major player Wonga recently reporting a £37.3 million loss and warning of an even bleaker picture for the year ahead.

Consumers shouldn’t fear the demise of the payday loans industry as there are far cheaper ways to borrow money, even when your credit rating isn’t the best.

Alternative options can prove doubly positive for borrowers as not only do they charge a fraction of payday rates but they can also help you start to improve your credit score in the process.

Specialist Credit Cards

Mainstream credit card companies won’t give entertain your application if you’ve missed a couple of credit payments or have a County Court Judgement recorded against you, even if it’s  from a few years back, but there are a number of specialist credit cards that may be able to help you get back on your feet.

The interest rates are higher than standard credit cards but much less than payday loans. Tesco Bank for example charges a representative APR of 28.9% on its Foundation Credit Card and the Classic card from Aqua comes in at 35.9% APR.

Borrowing £750 on a credit card at 28.9% APR and paying it back by 12 monthly payments of £72.71 will cost you £122.52 in interest over the year, whereas the same amount from Payday UK at 245.5% fixed will cost you £180 in interest charges in just one month – that’s £6 per day.

To rebuild your credit status, you need to show that you can manage a credit card in a responsible manner, and by making payments on time EVERY month then over time your credit score will gradually increase.

Paying the full statement balance each month is even better as you’ll improve your credit score without paying any interest charges in the process.

Guarantor loan

Another cost effective option is a guarantor loan with market leading provider Amigo, offering credit of between £500 and £5,000 at a representative APR of 49.9%.

To qualify for an Amigo loan you need to find a creditworthy friend or relative to act as guarantor for your loan. This means that if for some reason you are unable to pay, then the guarantor becomes liable for the outstanding balance.

Again the interest rate is a fraction of that charged by payday providers, plus it offers flexible terms, including the option to make additional ad hoc overpayments without a financial penalty. Amigo also feeds back your payment history to the credit reference agencies, so again paying on time every month is another step towards a healthy credit score.

Looking at the same example of borrowing £750 over 12 months, Amigo at 49.9% APR would cost you £77.29 per month and total interest charges of £177.48, much less of a drain on your bank account than the fast cash payday option.

If you’re looking for a larger guarantor loan you can borrow up to a maximum of £7,000 with glo at a rate of 49.5% APR

Finally, don’t forget your local credit union.

Although you’re unlikely to be able to borrow more than £1,000 until you’ve proved your ability to save, it’s another low cost avenue to explore if you’re shut out by mainstream banks.

Many credit union loans will cost you no more than 1% per month (12.7% APR) on the reducing balance of the loan.

To find a local credit union visit www.findyourcreditunion.co.uk and simply enter your home town and postcode details or alternatively give them a call on  0161 832 3694

If money is tight a payday loan could make matters worse in the long run, so always consider the smarter options first.

About six million Britons are being excluded from everyday life because of their credit histories, according to research* conducted on behalf of the Debt Advisory Centre.

People with poor credit scores are struggling to secure a home, open a bank account, get car insurance or a mobile phone contract, the research revealed.

Some 2.7 million people say they have been rejected for a mobile phone contract in the past year. Just over 2 million people have been turned down for a rental agreement due to their credit history and 1.7 million were unable to get a mortgage.

Having a poor credit record even stopped almost 1 million from getting car insurance or taking a new job. Many employers now run credit checks on future employees to reduce the risk of fraud and can reject applicants with credit problems.

Of those who have been turned down for credit in the past year, three-quarters say they will avoid applying for other products or services that may check their credit.

A spokesman for Debt Advisory Centre, said: “Credit scores aren’t just relevant for those taking out a credit card or loan, they can have an enormous impact on your day-to-day life. Millions of people now find themselves excluded from doing important things in life, like getting a home, taking a job or just getting a mobile phone.

“It is really important that everyone checks their credit score regularly through one of the main credit reference agencies, so they can see what information is being held and they can take the necessary steps to improve their credit history as soon as possible.”

Research out this week reveals that UK citizens took almost 39 million holiday trips abroad in 2014 and spent £24.4 billion whilst there.  Sainsbury’ Bank Travel Money predicts another busy June, as last June was the fourth busiest month for the supermarket bank’s travel money sales. The amount of travel money bought from Sainsbury’s in June 2014 jumped 16% from the amount sold in May 2014.

This June, up until 29th, Sainsbury’s Bank Travel Money has pledged to beat any in-store travel money rates customers find at their local Post Office or M&S Bank travel money bureaux (within five miles).

Sainsbury’s Bank Travel Money already provides Nectar card holders with a discounted rate but guarantees that if Post Office Money or M&S Bank are offering a better in-store rate on the day, it will beat their rate.

Sainsbury’s Bank has around 170 travel money bureaux in Sainsbury’s stores across the UK and offers 0% commission on foreign currency. There are over 50 currencies available to order. Open seven days a week and with handy parking, Sainsbury’s offers the convenience of collecting travel money whilst shopping.

High street retail giant Boots has launched its new travel insurance range, designed to make sure that all members of the family can enjoy the health benefits of a holiday.

The new product range is now wider and more comprehensive with five levels of coverage, which means customers have a greater choice of insurance options to make sure they find the correct cover for everyone on the trip.

A spokesman for Boots commented: “We believe that enjoying a safe and happy holiday is something that should be available to everyone. Our policies now cover a range of travel experiences – whether it’s policies that take care of people with medical conditions, the older traveller, or allowing children to be covered for free when travelling on their family holiday. We’ve also removed the upper age limit for single trip policies* and made travel for those with pre-existing medical conditions even easier, meaning that more people will be able to afford to go on holiday safe in the knowledge that they are protected by a quality, comprehensive product.”

Understanding that travel is important for people’s sense of happiness and wellbeing, should anything happen while on holiday, Boots customers will have access to a 24/7 emergency helpline where they can talk to doctors who will have an in-depth knowledge of their medical conditions.

Key features of Boots travel insurance:

  • Specialist cover for pre-existing medical conditions
  • No upper age limit on single trip policies
  • 24/7 emergency line managed by real doctors
  • Talk to people not checklists
  • Children go free with family or single parent cover