None of us like to feel like we’re being ripped off, but spending the wrong way abroad will leave you feeling exactly like that. Here’s a few handy tips to help you get the best bang for your buck and make your holiday spending money go a little bit further.
It’s always handy to have a bit of foreign currency with you when you travel, to quickly and easily pay for things like taxis, tips, water etc.
Buying your foreign currency at the airport will see you paying not only inflated exchange rates, but also commissions. Instead, plan ahead, shop around and compare exchange rates. Shopping around for your currency will ensure you get the cheapest and best deal. The most competitive rates are usually found online, so start searching.
Left it too late? Don’t panic. Pre-ordering your currency to collect from the airport, even a few hours before you’re travelling, will still save you some cash.
Taking your credit card on vacation with you saves you having to carry around a load of cash, which is both more convenient and more safe. However, using the wrong type of plastic abroad could see you paying an absolute wedge in charges.
Most cards charge fees if you use them abroad for purchases. The American Express Platinum Credit Card, for example, charges 2.80% on oversees transactions. Some cards also whack on fees for making withdrawals from ATMs – 2.99% on the amount you withdraw, for example.
ALERT: Remember too, that if you withdraw any cash on your credit card you’ll be charged interest from the second that money comes out of the machine. Even if you pay off your balance in full that month! This kind of interest varies from card to card, but it’s usually a high rate so be very careful.
The good news is; many credit cards are actually designed especially for use abroad. Some even reward you with extra miles/reward points for purchases oversees and help you avoid fees. As always, compare all of the options available before adding plastic to your wallet to ensure you’re getting the right card for you.
Prepaid cards are nice alternatives to credit cards and/or debit cards. You can use them in the exact same way as you would your regular cards, but you just top them up with funds before you travel.
These cards are great if you’re on a budget, because you can only spend what’s on them (although you can top them up again if you need to). They are also again a safer alternative to cash, because should the worst happen and your card is lost or stolen, only the amount on the card at the time can be spent.
Many of the UAE banks now offer prepaid cards, including NBAD, RAK Bank and also Visa and Mastercard. Often this type of card is cheaper than using a standard credit or debit card, there are no cash withdrawal fees if you use them in the correct currency, for example, and you get the exchange rate on the day you load or buy, not when you spend so currency fluctuations are avoided. But there still fees to be aware of.
ALERT: There are a few places which don’t accept these cards, mainly car hire places and gas stations.
Again, be sure to compare your options and read the small print so you fully understand what your chosen card offers.