10 Apr 2019
Removing the worry of extra charges makes it that little bit easier for holidaymakers to relax. Here are our eight top tips for using a credit card abroad and making your holiday cash go further.
1. Select a travel-friendly card
Choose a credit card or prepaid currency card with perks for overseas spending. Start your search by looking at the TotallyMoney travel cards section. A trait of all these cards is that they have lower fees and charges when used abroad, so are ideal for a jetsetter lifestyle. Once you’ve got a travel card, keep it with your passport so it always gets packed and you’re not tempted to use another.
2. Pay in the local currency
Always choose to pay in the local currency rather than pounds sterling. This usually crops up when paying for goods or services using a card machine. Paying in the local currency is usually cheaper, because paying in GBP means the overseas retailer or ATM has to use the local exchange rate to convert the transaction, which tends to work out more expensive than Visa or MasterCard exchange rates. You may hear this referred to as ‘Dynamic Currency Conversion’.
3. Avoid buying or selling currency at the airport
If you need to exchange money, avoid doing it in the airport. Although it’s convenient, it’s also costly. Buying and selling currency at the airport could lose you an extra £10 for every £100 you exchange. Only use airport currency exchanges in absolute emergencies.
4. Order online to get the best rates
If possible, order you currency ahead of time through an online currency exchange service. These are usually cheaper in terms of exchange fees and it’ll be posted to you. (So that’s one less thing to worry about.) The minimum sum you need to order to avoid additional charges is typically £500-£750.
Defaulting to your bank to buy currency is tempting, but they don’t always have the best deals. Shop around if you can. In fact, supermarkets are often very competitive rates for holiday travel cash — Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Asda, in particular — and will post your currency for free if you order £500 or more. (Below this Tesco and Asda will charge you £3.95 and Sainsbury’s £5.00.)
5. Save on your travel insurance. Arrange in advance.
In the pecking order of ‘what you get excited about before going on holiday’, organising travel insurance is way down the list. Unfortunately, leaving it to the last minute is costly.
To save money and avoid potential disaster, organise your travel insurance as soon as possible after booking your holiday. This way, if you have to cancel your trip for some unforeseen reason, you’re already covered.
6. Don’t be fooled by ‘commission free’ currency deals
Currency advertisements offering ‘commission free’ or ‘fee free’ look tempting. But when it comes to currency conversion, these deals might not be all that great. Why? Even though there are no fees, the exchange rate is poor.
And it’s the exchange rate that’s the critical element when buying foreign currency. That 0.1 or 0.2 on the rate can make a big difference to the amount of foreign currency you get for your money.
Most competitive mainstream currency providers don’t charge a commission fee anyway. Instead, they rely on giving customers an excellent exchange rate to attract business.
7. Book your car hire early to save money
Paying for your overseas car hire on your credit card? Like with insurance and ordering currency online, the earlier you book the cheaper it’s likely to be. What can be £18 per day if booked months ahead could cost £30 per day just before you go. And even more once you arrive at your holiday destination.
8. Be prepared in case you lose your payment cards or Passport
Sun. Beach. Lunchtime cocktails…slipping into holiday-mode is wonderful. But, it can cause us to lose track of our belongings — either because we misplace them or worse, they’re stolen.
Before you travel, make a note of all the relevant contact details and overseas phone numbers for your credit card’s lost and stolen services.
In regards to your passport, it’s good to keep a photocopy that you can keep with your travel documents. Or, if you’re super modern, take a picture and store securely on your phone.
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