With the new semester beginning, it is likely that more than a few of you will be feeling the pinch of the holiday blues. However, this is the perfect time to be thinking of travel plans for next year, as forward planning and early flight rates could save you a tonne of cash. This week, we are featuring guest articles which give you the low-down on saving money abroad…
It’s that time of year again when September comes too quickly and months of doing absolutely nothing have gone by in a flash. Yes, it’s time for Uni again; and understandably when the assignments and autumn leaves start piling up, you’ll most likely be spending lectures dreaming of your next holiday. So whether you want to spend a couple of weeks on a winter get-away or perhaps volunteering abroad next summer, we’ve invited Aviva, currency expert at MyTravelMoney.co.uk to provide 5 Top Tips to make sure you get the most out of your well deserved break!
Your travel money
Having been a student myself, I know we tend to get far too excited about spending any money we can scrape together, and when you’re so focused on buying those holiday ‘essentials’, it may slip your mind to remember that ‘essential’ travel money. Of course you can leave it to the last minute and exchange your money at the airport but did you know that they add markups of up to 10% away from the real rate of exchange? Instead of being lured by offers of 0% commission ( a marketing gimmick ) instead, you’ll be better off buying currency online for home delivery! Rates are competitive and MyTravelMoney desk research has found cost savings of up to £50 on every £500 worth of currency you buy. The providers listed will deliver currency straight to your front door the following day, giving you a perfect excuse for a lie-in! If you aren’t at home when currency is delivered, you can pick up from the airport.
With a substantial number of us suffering from FOMO (Fear of missing out), it is understandable that we will go to extreme lengths to post those photos of us chilling in our Ray-Bans and sipping Cosmopolitans across Facebook and Instagram. To avoid being greeted by a hefty phone bill when you get back, you’re much better off enjoying your trip with your phone switched off to avoid any surprise charges! However, if you are partial to hash tags, your mobile phone provider may offer data roaming add-ons and international tariffs that give you a certain amount of data per day. Just give them a call and they will be happy to advise you on the options available, sorted. So too, try and jump on WIFI wherever possible.
Currency converter Apps
Whether you are shopping at the market or wanting to check prices at a local restaurant, it would be wise to download and make the most of a Currency Converter App. On the app store, there are many free & paid apps that let you both exchange currencies & track your expenses as you go along. Check out MyTravel – Travel Buddy
Plan that flight
Even if you are not intending to travel by plane, this is a rather useful piece of information for future reference. Proven by research, Tuesday is officially the cheapest day to fly, with Wednesday also being fairly inexpensive. For those of you that are particularly frugal and thrifty, we’ve even found that the cheapest time to travel is 7.30am, so you no longer need to spend hours searching for the cheapest deals and end up with more spending money. Winning!
Research transportation in your destination
Taxis love taking you for a spin, in particularly students, so try and research alternative methods of transportation in advance so you’re clued up when you arrive! Most European countries have fantastic rail systems that aren’t just frequent and reliable but also fairly cheap! In fact, a number of them such as the Metro in France offer fantastic student discount on group and travel tickets, so if anything, don’t leave your Student Card at home, or passport for that matter.
Hopefully you have found these Top Tips useful and I wish you the best of luck in your next year at Uni not to mention a brilliant time on your next hard earned holiday!
And for more specific tips on currency whilst abroad, here are some top tips from Daniel Abrahams…
Two years ago, I was travelling around Europe with a group of friends. I couldn’t believe the ghastly airport bureau exchange rates and how much I was losing on my currency exchange. So, together with my co-founder Stevan, we set out on an ambitious project to make travel money fairer, cheaper and more transparent. This led to the launch of our travel money comparison site MyTravelMoney which compares in real time the leading online travel money bureaux. As staunch frugal fanatics, it’s a comparison service built by students, for students!
Outlined below are my top 5 core rules to ensure you get the most bang for your buck when buying travel money.
0% commission marketing gimmick
As students, we love to save at every opportunity. The same rules apply with holiday money. Don’t settle for the first deal you stumble across and shop around! Finding the cheapest travel money deal should be a competitive process and ignore big slogans of ‘‘we offer 0% commission.’’ This is marketing guff and usually hides a very poor rate of exchange.
The difference between a good or bad travel money deal is guided by the exchange rate alone. The closer the rate you are offered is to the ‘real’ exchange rate, the better the deal.
Airport bureaus versus online
Last week, we did an in-house mystery shop to compare the best exchange rates on the market, comparing airport versus high street versus online suppliers. The results were startling and showed that students can save a whooping 8.79% by buying currency online versus at the airport bureaus. You can find the results from our mystery shop here. Buying currency online is safe and secure.
Online providers let you order for next day home delivery, and if you aren’t at your student digs, you can simply pick up the currency from a local post office.
Dynamic currency conversion
If you are on the continent and asked at a restaurant or bar to pay in pounds or euros, always always select to pay in the local currency. This is a sneaky ploy adopted by local retailers for them to set their own exchange rate mark-up, and you could end up paying 4% plus over the odds. Beware of dynamic currency conversion!
Consider the use of a prepaid currency card
Using plastic abroad can be very expensive. You’ll normally end up paying a fee for the privilege of using the ATM itself & with credit cards, it’s likely you’ll have to pay interest on foreign cash withdrawals. Consider the use of a specialist prepaid currency card that will let you load foreign cash prior to travel, and then you can use like your normal UK debit card without most of the traditional charges.
Avoid debit cards from hell
Be prepared to pay a ‘fine’ of up to £1.50 every time you withdraw at a cash point abroad. Standard debit cards from Santandar, Halifax & Lloyds are particular ones to avoid whilst abroad. There are some products on the market, like the Halifax Clarity card that are specially designed for overseas spending charges. Speak to your bank about any specialist cards for overseas usage they may be able to offer.