Be a money-smart tourist

Sam Jackson

August 6, 2010

November 13, 2018

Be a money-smart tourist

In a previous articles we looked at travel insurance and just how few people actually bother to make sure they're covered when travelling overseas. But there is other financial planning that goes into a trip, like buying travel money, deciding which plastic it's best to take and finding discounts on holidays and flights. How do you make sure you get the best deals all round? Well, here are our top tips for a financially savvy break.

Find the best deal on flights

A great place to start is Skyscanner.net, which scans the websites of all the main travel companies to show you what's available online at any point in time. Skyscanner covers scheduled and charter flights, both direct and indirect, and also package holidays and car hire. It saves you hours doing it for yourself.

Once you've checked with Skyscanner though, remember that it doesn't scan every single website and that the best price found on an airline or tour operator's own website isn't always the best price available. Sometimes you can find alternatives or the same flights cheaper through last minute specialists, so always double check with the likes of Cheapflights.co.uk and Travelsupermarket.com before you buy. Conversely, not all companies appear on these bucket sites, which is why Skyscanner works well alongside other price comparison sites.

Get smart with travel money

The Post Office, Thomas Cook, American Express and Travelex are probably the best known suppliers of foreign currency in the UK. But don't assume they automatically offer the best deals. It pays to shop around and ordering your travel money online before you head off is nearly always cheaper than going to a bureau de change, particularly at airports.

So search the comparison sites first, or why not check out Money Saving Expert's Travelmoneymax.com which helps you track down the best deals. You'll probably discover some new foreign currency providers, like ICE and The Change Group, while you're at it.

For security reasons, you may prefer to take traveller's cheques rather than cash. But depending where you are going, you could find they aren't so easily accepted and in many ways travellers cheques are becoming old hat. A more recent alternative is prepaid currency cards, like those offered by Travelex, Fair FX and ICE, to name but a few. You can simply load up your currency online or at participating outlets, and then use your card at millions of ATMs, shops and restaurants worldwide.

Using your plastic abroad

If you want to use your usual credit and debit cards abroad, then check out the cost before you catch your flight.

All credit cards charge a fee if you withdraw cash while you're overseas and it's usually around the 2.5 - 3% mark, but some have a higher charge. What's more, it is always cheaper to use them to make foreign currency purchases than to purchase cash with them.

Some debit cards charge a currency exchange fee too, but there are five that don't: Nationwide, Intelligent Finance, HSBC, Coventy, First Direct and Halifax. So you might want to open an account with one of these five if you travel often.

Finally, both Lloyds and Abbey debit cards currently add a charge for all purchases in addition to the normal currency exchange fee. So these are well worth steering clear of when you go abroad.

So, don't just plan your holiday wardrobe in advance; get organised on the financial front, then you really will find you can relax and unwind. Wherever you're off to, we hope you have a fantastic holiday and enjoy your hard earned break.

Sam Jackson

Money Dashboard

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