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Bureau de save! Six saving tips for your holiday

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Holiday season is upon us and we’re excited to finally pack our suitcases, dust off our passports and have a piña colada waiting at our arrival! Our research shows that now we can fly freely again, nearly four out of 10 people (37%) will be jetting off overseas on holiday this year.

We have shared some money saving tips before you jet, sail or teleport out of the country to enjoy your well-needed break. We’ve listed below some money saving tips so you can avoid as best you can, paying to pay!

Travel credit and debit cards

Most banks allow you to spend abroad on your debit and credit cards but they will charge you for their use. If you were to use your normal banking card, a ‘non-sterling transaction fee’ will typically be added, which can average up to a 3% rate charge. Debit cards will typically charge a flat fee ranging from 50p to £1.50 per transaction.

There are some banks that don’t charge transaction fees, including Monzo and Starling, but using your normal banking card will mean packing the additional fees along with the rest of your suitcase!

Searching for a debit or credit card that doesn’t charge a transaction fee is the perfect companion to pack. Research shows that using a specialist travel debit or credit card could typically save you over £50 on your holiday.

Prepaid travel cards

A prepaid travel card will allow you to load up the card in your chosen currency and it locks in the exchange rate at the time, so if the pound weakens while you’re on holiday you’ll gain! When you’re at your destination you simply use it like a normal debit card. You know how much you have to spend and you can’t go over your planned budget unless you reload the card!

Prepaid travel card providers will either use the ‘interbank rate’, this is the near-perfect exchange rate, or the rate that’s set by Mastercard or Visa (a fee tends to be added between 1% and 2.5%). The funds on your prepaid card are classified by banks as ‘electric money’, so when you load up your card the funds are stored in a ringfenced account with your bank, separate from their operating cash. You can have peace of mind in knowing that if the bank went bust while you’re on holiday, your money is safe.

When considering a prepaid card there are a few factors to note; for example, they can have more fees than a credit or debit card so ensure you pick a prepaid card with low/no fees. The kind of fees that can build up are application and replacement fees, transaction and inactivity fees. One that may slip your mind is charges for topping up the prepaid card with a credit card. If you need to top up, make sure to use a debit card.

A prepaid card carries a lot of convenient and secure factors but just keep in mind car hire companies won’t accept this card. When you hire a car most companies require a credit card for an ‘excess deposit authentication’. Some toll booths and petrol also don’t accept prepaid cards, just ensure you have back-up cards or cash handy.

Bureau de Change

Traditionally, us jet-setters will go to the Bureau de Change to exchange our cash. To ensure you get the most out of this route make sure you check the exchange rates and comparison sites before committing to exchanging your currency. The top Bureau de Change cash rates are usually lower than the top cards, so opting for the card rate means you can get more out of your holiday budget.

Exchanging your cash in a good amount of time before your departure date, and in large quantities, also means you get the best out of the rate and gives you plenty of time to watch the rate levels before switching your currency.

Our last Bureau de Change tip is to avoid exchanging at the airport! This is the absolute last minute you can exchange your currency before setting off to your destination, so companies tend to take advantage and charge higher rates and additional fees.

Withdrawing cash abroad

If you can, avoid ATMs abroad. By using the conversion rates they will try and get more money out of you. If you must use a cash machine, ensure it doesn’t charge you for withdrawals as most can charge up to €7!

Cash machines like to use a ‘scare tactic’ on customers, they will often ask if you want the currency conversion actioned for you before you withdraw money. Select ‘no’ on this option and take the local currency rather than the pounds…you can save up to £30!

Retailers are also known to ask if you want to be charged in pounds instead of the local currency, this is called ‘dynamic currency conversion’. Exchange rates can be obscene so opt for the local currency rather than the pounds.

Travel insurance

The most essential thing to buy before your flip flops in preparation for your holiday is travel insurance. As soon as you’ve booked your holiday, buy your travel insurance, having this protection isn’t just for while you’re away, it covers a plethora of scenarios such as cancellation, redundancy and many other unforeseen circumstances.

Before you buy your travel insurance, check whether your bank account offers travel insurance as part of their benefits. Many don’t know this is a feature with their bank or whether it covers where you’re going, but it can save you a few pennies to put towards your spending money.

If you’re travelling with others having a policy that covers everyone on the trip is likely to be cheaper and if you’re taking advantage of a post-pandemic world and jetting off more than once, consider annual cover. If you’re opting for annual cover with your travel insurance, it’s worth checking how many days per trip you’ll be covered as some companies can range from 17 days and others can go all the way to 90 days.

Don’t forget your European Health Insurance card (EHIC) or your Global Health Insurance card (GHIC). These are important cards to take where they are accepted and if you unfortunately need to visit the hospital while on holiday, having one of these cards entitles you to have the treatment at the same cost as the state-run hospitals in the EU.

Mobile data roaming

Before setting of on your travels double check with your mobile network what the roaming charges are. Since Brexit many networks have scrapped ‘Roam Like At Home’ rules that were established by the EU and you may be charged unexpected fees.

Wi-Fi is the way to go! Most establishments like hotels, shops, cafés and restaurants will have Wi-fi, using it wherever possible and taking advantage of the mobile apps for messaging rather than using your network’s messaging application can save you heaps on roaming fees. WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger and Apple’s FaceTime are great ways to get connecting while on holiday.

If you rely on your mobile for entertainment, like Netflix, Spotify, YouTube and many more, download the music, films, series, podcasts and whatever you need while you have Wi-Fi and even before you leave the country.   

To make your travelling easier and seamless, download Google Maps as Wi-Fi and mobile data is not required on this app, the only function that is needed is the GPS function, as long as you’ve downloaded the offline version you’re good to go!

If you want to go the extra mile in saving money on roaming charges or plan to be on holiday for a substantial amount of time, have a look at comparison websites for a provider that still offers cheap/free roaming and add this Sim temporarily to your mobile.

Paragon Bank PLC is authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority. Registered in England number 05390593. Registered office 51 Homer Road, Solihull, West Midlands B91 3QJ. Paragon Bank PLC is registered on the Financial Services Register under the firm reference number 604551