Martin Lewis' holiday mythbusters
The clock’s ticking, the kids are getting restless, summer is looming and all chatter and talk is turning to holidays. Yet when it comes to money and your rights, there are myths and misunderstandings a plenty. So today our Money Saving Expert Martin Lewis is here with his mythbusters…
1. True or False: You have to show your boarding pass when buying Duty Free in an airport?
True. You DO need to show it when buying anything in a Duty Free shop – even if it isn’t alcohol or tobacco because you’re potentially being exempted from duty, so HMRC needs to know where you are flying to, regardless of what you’re buying. So if they ask don’t resist.
Yet in other airport shops, you don’t need to show your boarding pass, even though they often push you to do so. Many people are rude to duty free staff over this confusion. The reason for this is if you’re travelling outside of the EU they can claim the VAT back. I was involved in campaigning for people not to show boarding passes in these shops, unless they split some of that gain.
And some now do – to an extent. For example in WH Smiths if you’re going outside the EU and are buying am individual item costing over £6 you get the VAT back, in Boots its over £5.
2. True or False: An EHIC gives you free treatment in all EU hospitals?
False. A European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) gives you access to state-run hospitals and GPs at the same price as a local. So if it’s free for them it’s free for you, if they pay, you pay.
The EHIC is free to get, so beware shyster sites charging you. Everyone, including children needs their own, and they’re valid for up to five years. If you already have one do check the expiry date, over 5m expire this year – it’s on the front, bottom right.
Also remember this isn’t a substitute for travel insurance. It doesn’t cover extra things like baggage loss, repatriation or theft, like travel insurance would.
3. True or False: You can’t take water bottles through airport security?
False. You can take empty water bottles (or flasks) through security, but not full ones. So take an empty one through and when you’re on the other side of security just fill it up for free - many airports have free water fountains, including Heathrow Terminal 2,3,4 and 5, Gatwick, Manchester, Edinburgh and Bristol airport. If it doesn’t (some are Newcastle, Leeds Bradford and Cardiff airport) you can try and politely ask restaurants or coffee shops if they will fill it for you for free – most will. And it helps reduce plastic waste.
4. True or False: When paying by plastic abroad, if asked to choose between pounds and euros, choose euros?
True, true, true! When asked, always pay in euros (or the local currency). If you pay in pounds the overseas bank/store will do the conversion, and their rates tend to be awful. Pay in euros is far safer as your bank will do the exchange – and that is usually at least as good if not better.
5. True or False: You can’t take food through airport security?
False. You can take any food you like through security. In fact pack a picnic to eat on the flight, as it’s far cheaper than paying the £3-£5ish for a sandwich on board.
6. True or False: If you have an unlimited data roaming in the UK, you now get it exactly the same when travelling in the EU?
False. Last June new EU rules called ‘Roam Like At Home’ came into effect which means you can use your UK data, calls and text allowance in most parts of Europe (including France, Germany, Iceland and Spain) as you would if you were in the UK – so if it’s included in your monthly contract it’ll be ‘free’, go over and it’ll cost what it does in the UK.
But there was a small caveat to this. If you have unlimited data or cheaper packages you may have to pay extra to use all your data allowance (not calls or texts) due to a ‘fair use’ policy. For example, Three pay-monthly customers will only be able to use the first 13GB of their data allowance free (12GB for PAYG users) and then have to pay 1p/MB to use the remainder of their allowance. EE's 'fair use' limit is 15GB, while Vodafone and O2 says it won't set one.
7. True or False: You cannot hire a car abroad without paying for additional insurance on arrival?
False. You get basic insurance with the car hire, but when you arrive they will try and sell you additional ‘excess’ insurance. If not you can be responsible for paying up to the first £1,000 say of any incident.
Yet you don’t need to buy it from the kiosk when picking up your car – this can cost as much as €20 a day. You can buy standalone cheap excess insurance far cheaper before your travel, from as little as £2/day, like Glyn who tweeted me “Thanks @MartinSLewis, I followed your guide & got a week's car hire excess insurance for £13. Rental company wanted £12 per day."The MoneyMaxim comparison site can find you a cheap policy. Though be aware that if you do book this way, hire firms may still say “you still need to pay us”, and this is true. You’ll need to pay a deposit of €600 - €1,350 on a credit (not debit) card, from which they'll take the cost of any incidents. Yet you can then reclaim the cost on your standalone insurance policy.