It’s time to get more buck for your bang. Many people overpay when abroad, but with Martin Lewis’s tricks and deals and you can spend more and pay less for it.
The nature of deals is they move fast – prices, terms and stock levels can change rapidly, even while Martin’s on the programme, as so many people are checking them out. So go quickly, always double-check before spending or making a special trip, and check the terms and conditions.
Plus, while we hope these are cracking deals and save you cash; as Martin always says, if a specific deal involves spending and you can’t afford it, don’t need it, or won’t use it, please don’t do it.
Remember, deals can change quickly...
Step 1: Never change money at the airport
Never buy cash at the airport or at ferry terminals - you’re a captive customer and the rates are usually appalling. If you really need to do it, at least pre-order it to get a marginal improvement on the rate.
For example, when I checked earlier this week to get 300 euros, you’d pay £270 at the airport, yet the pre-order with the same company was around £250, while the very cheapest on the market overall cost £240.
So the best route is to do a full travel money comparison. Ignore phrases like commission-free or good rates, just ask: I have £500 (or whatever amount) - how many euros (for example) will I get for that after all charges? And if you’ve no time and just want an airport pick-up, at least pre-order it.
Step 2: Take advantage of today’s 24-hour euro and US dollar flash sale
From 9am today for 24 hours, ICICI bank is boosting its euro and US dollar rates both online and in-store. It’s impossible to say how good the rates will be, but last time it did something similar they were at or near best buys (but still do compare prices first).
Plus, until Saturday if you order £600+ worth of any currency from it you get a free 12-month Tastecard (gives 2for1ish at 1,000s of restaurants), which has an £80 RRP. To get the Tastecard you must tell ICICI your email address when you buy more than £600-worth of travel money either online or at your nearest UK branch.
Step 3: The very cheapest way to spend abroad
Forget travel cash, to permanently holster the very cheapest way to spend abroad, you need to have a specialist travel credit card (the wrong credit cards are a hideous way to spend abroad, so beware). Yet ONLY do this if you’ll set up a direct debit to repay the card IN FULL each month, so there’s no interest on your spending.
Most plastic adds a hidden 3% load to exchange rates, so spend £100 of euros and it costs £103. Yet the top specialist cards are load-free worldwide, giving unbeatable rates.
For spending the Aqua Reward card has no load fee worldwide, plus it gives 3% cashback on spending in the UK and overseas, up to £100. Plus it even allows some with past CCJs or defaults to get it. It does have a hideous 34.9% APR, so remember to pay the card off IN FULL each month or don’t get it.
The only problem with Aqua is that it charges a high fee for withdrawing cash abroad (and interest even if you repay in full), so if you’ve got a better credit score, other load-free cards including the Halifax Clarity credit card, the Post Office credit card, the Saga Platinum credit card and the Nationwide Select credit card (available to Nationwide FlexAccount customers only) are better all-round options.
Step 4: Ensure you’ve got an EHIC card
Everyone travelling around Europe should ensure they’ve a free European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) which entitles the holder to medical treatment in state-run hospitals and GPs in any EU country (plus Iceland, Norway, Liechtenstein and Switzerland) at the same cost as a local. So if it's free for them, it’s free for you. If they pay, you pay. But don’t see it as a substitute for travel insurance – most people need both.
Two things everyone should know:
- Check your card is still valid. Don’t assume yours is valid, check the date on it now - millions are holstering out-of-date cards, which means they’re worthless.
- Never pay to get one, or to get it renewed. Be careful Googling EHIC, as there are many scam sites out there that will try to charge you £15. EHIC are always free to get, so go to the official site (see the useful links) and there’ll be no charge.