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Money essentials for your summer holiday

Money essentials for your summer holiday

Thinking about jetting off for summer? Don't forget these money essentials before you go

With the excitement of a holiday, it’s easy to focus on beachwear and books when packing for your trip, but there are some financial essentials you need to include in your suitcase too. 

Money matters

First, ensure you have a debit or credit card that won’t charge you for spending or withdrawing cash abroad. The vast majority of banks don’t offer this saving, which means you’ll likely pay around 3% more on the exchange rate plus extra charges on each transaction. 

The majority of the fee-free debit cards do require you to have a smartphone. The pick of these is Chase Bank as you’ll earn 1% back on top. Starling and Virgin Money’s M Plus also won’t charge you. 

Credit cards - money essentials for your summer holiday

I’d also say it’s worth having a credit card on you when you go away, even if you’ve got one of the debit cards. That’s because things like car hire and hotel incidentals often require a holding deposit on one of your cards. Using a debit card will lock that cash and you’ll be unable to spend it until the lock is released. 

The best one is the Barclaycard Rewards credit card. This also offers cashback, though at a lower rate of 0.25%. Another option is Halifax’s Clarity credit card, though this will charge interest on cash withdrawals. 

"Ensure you have a debit or credit card that won’t charge you for spending or withdrawing cash abroad"

Just bear in mind some local ATMS might have their own charges that can’t be avoided—even on a fee-free card. And when you do pay in shops and restaurants, don’t agree for the amount to be converted to pounds. You’ll want to pay in the local currency to ensure you’re getting the top rates offered by the cards above. 

Thanks to these cards you don’t need to take much money with you—at least for most destinations. But personally I like to take some foreign currency with me, just as a backup for places that don’t take cards.  

Don’t just pop to your local bank or bureau de change as you’ll be able to get more favourable rates if you shop around. And don’t leave this to the last minute either. You’ll save on charges if you order the cash in advance, while the airport will be one of the most expensive places to swap money. 

Get insured!

Another really important card for those going to Europe is the GHIC. This is similar to the EHIC, and was introduced following Brexit. This Global Health Insurance Card will get you access to health care at the same price as the locals (don’t be fooled by the word "Global"—it’s just the EU and Switzerland). It could be your EHIC is still in date, in which case you don’t need the new version. 

These cards aren’t a replacement for travel insurance but in addition. Most insurers will only pay up a claim for health issues overseas if you’ve been able to access cheaper or free care first with the GHIC. 

Travel insurance - money essentials for a summer holiday

And of course travel insurance isn’t just about medical emergencies. It can be useful in case of cancellation, loss of possessions and much more. But only if your policy actually covers these. And if it does there could be limitations or exclusions that make it hard to claim. Take a look at your policy ASAP so you can see if it’s fit for your needs. 

If you don’t already have something in place, use a comparison site to compare prices, but this is one area where cheaper doesn’t mean better. Read about what you get before clicking buy. 

"Don’t leave buying this until just before you jet off"

Remember you might already have cover from a financial product such as a packaged bank account, or even via your home contents cover. If you’re going to go away a few times a year then annual cover might work out cheaper.  

Don’t leave buying this until just before you jet off. Get it now and the cover will protect you if anything happens that prevents you from going away, even if you’ve only selected the dates for the trip itself when buying. 

You might also want to get get some car hire excess insurance that will be far cheaper than buying it from the car hire firm itself when you collect the car. 

Check your phone plan

Away from your wallet, it’s worth looking at your mobile phone too. Most of the big networks have stopped free roaming in Europe, so you’ll get charged for calls, texts and data use. That can be very expensive. Some will also charge you when someone leaves a voicemail—even if you don’t listen to it. 

Mobile phone - money essentials for your summer holiday

If this is the case for your tariff, there are a few options. Some networks will let you buy add-ons that let you use your allowance when away or give you a new one for your trip. These often aren’t cheap, but they are better than not having anything at all.

Or if you want to avoid this you can turn off roaming on your handset before leaving the UK and only connect when you have access to Wi-Fi. It’s possible to download maps too, so you can still make your way around.

Plan ahead—or be flexible

It’s worth seeing if you can pre-book things like airport parking, transfers, car hire and attraction tickets for a discount before you go. And if you’ve got hotels lined up with a free cancellation policy, see if you are able to get a better place for less as you approach the departure date.  

"It’s worth seeing if you can pre-book things for a discount before you go"

If you’re leaving it to the last minute to decide where to go try to be as flexible as you can. Not just in destination, but looking at various departure airports and dates could help you find that bargain break. Though don’t leave it too late—packaged holiday firms try to sell off spare spots a month or two in advance so there could be very little choice with a few weeks to go. 

Finally, make sure your passport is valid and you’ve all the visas you need for your trip. Without these, you won’t be able to go. 

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