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travel planning

As a traveler, your main concern will be getting the most favourable rate possible. A commonly asked question is: should I convert now, or will my money be worth more when I go abroad? Unless your trip is months away, the answer is that it probably will not make much of a difference. The major currencies tend to move +/- 1% in a given day, which is a relatively minor move unless you are changing thousands at a time. Experts agree that travelers will be best off looking for a place that will change money inexpensively. Below are some of your options.

Going on holiday can be an expensive experience - but there are ways to dodge some of the extra costs. But excessive car hire fees, travel money costs and useless insurance can take a significant bite out of your spending money.
Here, are my tips on how you can maximise your holiday money!

Don't buy cash at the airport

Not only will you get a poor exchange rate, but you could also pay steep commission charges.
The best deals can be found online, but check delivery charges before ordering. Companies worth considering include www.thomasexchange.co.uk and www.bestforeignexchange.com


Choose a cheap credit card

Most cards impose a foreign currency charge of between 2.75 per cent and 2.99 per cent every time you use them abroad. So when you spend £100, you'll be charged £103. This charge won't show up on your statement, because the card issuers take it by manipulating the exchange rate. Very underhand! However, you can avoid these charges. Santander's Zero credit card and those from Saga and the Post Office don't have any foreign exchange loading fees. Nationwide Visa is fee-free in Europe, but carries a small charge for foreign currency exchange elsewhere. If you plan to apply for one of these cards, do it now so it arrives in time. 



Don't draw cash on your credit card

Nearly every credit card will hit you with three charges for withdrawing cash. There will be the hidden foreign currency charge, a cash withdrawal charge that may be as high as 2.99 per cent (e.g. American Express) and interest from the day you make the withdrawal, which could be more than 30%. Overall, withdrawing £100 in foreign currency can cost you almost £106 with the most expensive cards and you'll be charged interest from the day of the withdrawal. Once the interest is added, your bill could rise to more than £110!!

Beware of demon debit cards

You might expect your debit card to offer free withdrawals, but many charge a fee of up to £4.95 on £100. Most have a minimum fee, so it is better to draw out larger amounts rather than small ones. The most expensive include Royal Bank of Scotland/NatWest and Barclays, which charge up to £4.75 on a £100 withdrawal, according to Moneyfacts. With Barclays, this includes a 'cash conversion' charge of 2.75 per cent and a 2 per cent 'cash transaction charge', minimum £1.50 and maximum £4.50. But the real demon debit cards also charge between £1 and £1.50 every time you spend on them abroad. So if you pay for a gift costing £10 using your debit card, the bank will add this fee in addition to swiping its currency exchange fee. It's like paying 15 per cent commission on every transaction.
Use your debit card 20 times on holiday in shops and restaurants and you'll be hit by £20 to £30 in fees, in addition to the currency exchange charge.
The worst are Halifax, IF, Lloyds, RBS NatWest and Santander. The good guy is Nationwide, which does not charge for cash withdrawals within the EU for spending using its Flexaccount debit card (there is a 1 per cent currency exchange charge outside the EU). You could consider pre-paid cards, but watch out for charges. You load the cards with money before you go and use them, as you would a debit or credit card. The best for foreign usage are from Caxton FX and FairFX. These cards are available online and can be loaded with euros or dollars. They don't have any spending or foreign usage fees, but FairFX does charge - 1.50 or $2 each time you withdraw cash.

Open up a bank account in the country that you'll be visiting

This of course isn't viable for many travels overseas. However if you're traveling in one country for an extended time, it may be worth considering. This may also be an avenue worth considering if you mostly holiday in Europe. I've been fortunate enough to work in the EU and therefore ensure that I have sufficient funds in my EU account (topping up when sterling is strong against the euro).

Tell your bank before you go

Banks are becoming increasingly cautious about overseas credit and debit card activity, so if you haven't told them about your travel plans before you go, your card could be stopped without warning. Even if you tell your bank in advance, you could run into problems. Before going away, make sure the bank has a 24-hour contact number for you and you have a 24-hour number for them so you can get in touch if you run into problems, and they can release the block on your card as quickly as possible.'

 

Here are my other recommended sites for travel insurance:

American Express www.americanexpress.co.uk

BAA www.baa.co.uk- You can either Pre-book for collection at the airport with Travelex or Pre-book for home delivery

Global Currency Solutions www.gcscurrency.com - GCS are committed to ensuring their clients maximise the potential of their foreign exchange requirements. Why should a client, whether they are a private individual or business client, be ripped off by the bank every time they want to send money abroad? GCS offer clients of all sizes competitive exchange rates and lower transfer charges. GCS only deal in bank-to-bank transfers. Essentially, anyone with a requirement to get currency to a bank account anywhere in the world should consider using GCS rather than their bank.

Post Office www.postoffice.co.uk - The Post Office™, one of the most trusted brands in the UK with over 350 years of history, offers customers a wide range of products and services.. Products range from travel insurance and foreign exchange to telecommunications and the recently launched flower delivery service.

Rate Calculatorwww.ratescalc.co.uk – Check out worldwide exchange rates.

Thomas Cook www.thomascook.com Order your currency and have it delivered to your door.

XEwww.xe.com - Currency converter. Find out how many millions of rupees to the pound.

 

 
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