It can be difficult to afford a family holiday in these uncertain times. But, if you’ve saved up your hard earned cash to jet off on a summer break, then there are lots of ways to make sure your money goes further. After all, you want to make sure your cash gets spent on having fun in the sun, or snow, and doesn’t get eaten up by avoidable charges. Here are some of the top tips for stretching your spending money.
Firstly, get organised early
Don’t leave getting your spending money until the last-minute or you could get stung by poor rates and huge commission fees at the airport. Consumer group Which? carried out an investigation into rates on a £500 exchange in 10 locations across the UK, finding variations were so great there was a difference of 13 euros in some places. That could have bought you the Plat du jour, or a couple of cocktails.
The best way to get your currency in advance is to order from online exchange specialists. Try ICE, FairFX, Travelex and Post Office. You may have to order a minimum of £500 to avoid paying delivery charges, but that’s probably less than you’d be taking for a family holiday anyway. If you do want to get your currency from the High Street, the Post Office and M&S Money both offer 0% deals.
You probably don’t want to take wads and wads of cash with you. Most people prefer having the security of a card for additional spending. How about a prepaid card? They are similar to spending on a debit or credit card, but allow you to budget more effectively as you load them up with money in advance. There are lots on the market at the moment, so look out for those offering the best deals, the ones that will not charge you fees to load cash, spend or withdraw money.
These have a somewhat old-fashioned image and have largely been superseded by cash and cards. But they can come in useful if you’re not happy using cards and don’t feel secure just carrying cash. And, if you’re travelling to the United States, American Express US dollar travellers cheques are accepted by a lot of hotels, restaurants and shops as a form of cash. You get your change in cash and don’t get charged any commission.
Credit and debit cards
If you do want to take a credit card, and lots of people like to know they have one as a security blanket in case of emergency spending, then make sure you take one which gives you a good deal abroad. Choose carefully as most cards impose a foreign currency charge of around 3% every time you use them. But there are some which don’t make these charges. Always repay in full any money you spend on your holiday though otherwise you’ll be hit with interest rates that will soon eat up any savings you make on fees.
Try the Halifax Clarity Mastercard or the Post Office Mastercard for use abroad as, at the moment, they don’t charge a foreign currency exchange rate fee. You may think debit cards are better, but actually some have the worst fees as they can add up to £1.50 every time you spend, so if you’re just popping out for a £5 bottle of wine from the local supermarket, you could end up paying 30% more than you need to.
For more advice, check out the currency news at currency-coverter.com.