Say adios to the costa far too much
Holidaymakers beware: what you save on your cheap flight, you could lose on cover, currency deals and credit cards, warns Esther Shaw
Sunday 17 July 2005
Whether it's to Cuba, the Costa del Sol or the Canaries, Britons are now preparing en masse to take off on their summer holidays. This month alone, five million people are expected to join the exodus from the UK.
Savvy sunseekers will have shopped around for a bargain flight or hotel, but there are other ways to make sure that you're not spending over the odds on essentials.
Follow these simple steps to prevent your summer break from breaking the bank.
While it will be easier, and quicker, to buy cover from the company selling you the holiday package, you'll nearly always get a better deal elsewhere.
Insurer Churchill reports that, as a result of arranging a policy through their travel agent, around 11 million holidaymakers waste £546m a year by paying up to twice as much for cover as they need to.
To check the entire market for competitive deals, visit a price-comparison website such as www.insuresupermarket.com.
As a rule, the basic level of protection you should expect in a travel policy is cover for medical ex- penses (with a potential payout of £2m minimum), cancellation (£3,000), lost baggage (£1,500) and personal liability (£2m).
If you travel abroad several times a year, you will be better off with annual cover instead of a single policy. And check for free travel for children under 18, too; the Post Office and Insureandgo both offer this.
If you intend to do activities such as jet-skiing or bungee jumping, you may have to pay a higher premium since many insurers consider these high risk.
Also watch out for "free" credit card travel cover; eligibility for a new Barclaycard offer in September counts only if you book your trip through its travel services arm.
And don't rely on free accident insurance on credit cards; this will cover you only if you're hurt en route, not when you're at your destination or for theft or any other loss.
The E111 form
Many families rely on the E111 when they travel in the European Union or to Switzerland. But this is no substitute for travel cover, says Jo Field from American Express. It entitles you only to free or low-cost medical treatment with conditions that arise while abroad.
The form is available from post offices but it is being replaced next year by the European Health Insurance card.
Leave this purchase until the airport or hotel at the other end and you're unlikely to secure a competitive deal.
Only half of consumers shop around for their currency, says financial analyst Moneyfacts, and this makes little sense when some providers charge up to 2 per cent commission (with a minimum of £5 payable) plus a handling charge of more than £5.
Many outlets no longer charge commission - American Express, Travelex and the Post Office, among others - but not every deal is what it seems. Commission-free packages can often mask poor rates of exchange, warns Paul Swainson from Travelex.
"Consumers need to look at the total cost of the purchase, including commission, exchange rate, handling fee [and delivery of their money to your home, if applicable]."
A recent survey by Travelex of both high-street outlets and websites found that the cost of changing £300 into euros varied by more than €8 (£5).
You should also use a provider that allows you to change, commission-free, your leftover foreign cash back to sterling.
While it's a good idea to have some local currency - preferably in small notes or change - when you arrive at your holiday destination, you may want to take traveller's cheques as well for security.
Alternatively, a new development is a prepaid, reloadable traveller's cheque card - launched recently by American Express, MasterCard and Travelex. Customers simply load the card with their chosen currency in advance, and are then given a Pin code to get hold of their cash from an ATM or to use in-store.
Lose your card and the balance is intact on a replacement because it is not linked to your bank account. However, the card has a fee (£4.95 with Travelex, for example) and a reload charge (£2.95).
While seven in 10 consumers use their credit card while abroad, more than two-thirds do not know how much they are charged for doing so. This is a big oversight since most providers levy a currency "loading" fee of at least 2.75 per cent on all purchases overseas - whether with debit or credit card.
And if you use your card at a foreign ATM, there's usually an extra handling fee of up to 2 per cent of the transaction value - capped at £2.
Not only do you pay a higher rate of interest on credit card cash withdrawals, but there's no "interest-free" period - so you start paying immediately for the privilege of borrowing.
Nationwide building society bucks the trend by not charging the currency-loading fee for customers using its debit or credit card abroad; nor is there a handling fee for using your debit card at an ATM.
Note that, in the UK, your credit card purchases are protected in the event of a complaint if you spend between £100 and £30,000.
Not so if you're buying with plastic on the Continent: a recent UK court ruling said that customers would not be entitled to compensation.
However, this is being contested by the Office of Fair Trading.
- 1 Scottish independence: Ireland since 1919 is a lesson for Scotland in what a Yes vote means
- 2 British tourists 'murdered' in Thailand: Pair's bloodied bodies found naked on Koh Tao beach
- 3 Lego breaks out of the toy box and heads for the gallery
- 4 Vogue under fire for 'Big Booty' article
- 5 Julian Assange and Edward Snowden join piracy mogul Kim Dotcom’s political campaign in New Zealand
Daniele Watts: Django Unchained actress detained by Los Angeles police after being mistaken for a prostitute
The political class is doing what Hitler couldn’t – destroying Britain
Scottish independence: Nationalist leader Jim Sillars threatens pro-union companies with 'day of reckoning' after independence
Scottish independence: Yes campaign feels the heat as Alex Salmond's NHS claims come under furious attack
£23m Birmingham cycle scheme is attacked by Tory councillor for not catering to the elderly
Salmond accused of laughing off national debt with ‘what are they going to do: invade?’ joke
iJobs Money & Business
£280 - £320 per day: Ashdown Group: The Ashdown Group have been engaged by a l...
£400 - £450 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: **URGENT CONTRACT ROLE**...
£35000 - £38000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Training Coordinator / Pl...
Data Governance Manager (Solvency II) – Contract – Up to £450 daily rate, 6 month (may go Permanent)
£400 - £450 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: We are currently looking...
Day In a Page
A first-floor flat with two bedrooms, a spacious reception room and communal grounds in a leafy part of London
A three-bedroom flat with a spacious rootop terrace and balcony, accessed from a private gated courtyard
A Grade II-listed pile with six bedrooms, stables and 39 acres of grounds in Standlake
A two-bedroom flat with boutique hotel-style interiors, close to the foodie haunt of West End Lane
A two-bedroom flat in a beautiful old vicarage, with many original features, close to the city centre
A three-bedroom 16th-century home with an aga kitchen, private gardens and heated outdoor pool, in Hadleigh
A three-bedrom home in sought-after Queen's Gate Mews, with Italian marble-finished bathrooms
Surrounded by glorious countryside in the village of Udimore, sits this impressive four-kiln oast and barn conversion
A five-bedroom house in the picturesque village of Kettlewell, north Yorkshire
An 18th-century former coaching inn with original staircase, open fireplaces and beams throughout
A Grade II-listed Georgian town house with three bedrooms and a south-facing courtyard, near Arundel Castle
Feel on top of the world at this über chic penthouse on the 37th floor of one of Europe’s tallest blocks.
A Grade II-listed Victorian villa with six bedrooms and two further cottages, all with spectacular sea views
A grade II-listed, Georgian cottage with mature 50ft garden, perfect for summer entertaining
A magnificent Georgian pile with turrets, seven bedrooms, a heated pool and four acres of gardens
Fairoak Farm has five bedroom suites, gym, outdoor swimming pool and golf course
Chic two-bedroom river-fronted flat with a private lift that delivers you directly to your home
A spectacular seven-bedroom Tudor pile, once owned by Henry VIII, with 18 acres of land
A seven-bedroom Georgian property previously used as a picturesque wedding venue
A split-level flat in a church conversion with two en suite bedrooms and 1,200sq ft of living space
A three-bedroom bungalow situated behind an impressive stone wall, £645,000
Windsor Castle overlooks this three-bedroom Victorian cottage located on one of Windsor's smartest roads
Chapel House is a former vicarage with nine bedrooms in the beautiful Upper Wye Valley
A five-bedroom B&B and separate owner's accomodation with potential for conversion
Enjoy summer by the Thames in this two double-bedroom converted warehouse in Rotherhithe village
A one-bedroom, luxury apartment with private gym and concierge service in Moorgate
A four-bedroom house in Hermitage Gardens with three reception rooms and landscaped gardens
A seven-bedroom Grade II-listed property with a separate self-contained apartment
A five-bedroom Victorian house with three reception rooms and galleried landing, £695,000
A six-bedroom farmhouse with five acres of land in a former cloth-making village
A secluded seven-bedroom detached house with large private garden, £490,000
A three-bedroom cottage overlooking Sarratt village green with open fires and solid oak floors
A three-bedroom maisonette flat in a Grade I-listed, Georgian townhouse in a sought-after location
A one-bedroom apartment located within a private gated development, north of Turnham Green
Look forward to a brighter future at two-bedroom Sunny Cottages, ideal for Londoners looking to downsize
A three-bedroom red-brick cottage with outbuildings and pretty gardens, £200,000
This three-bedroom flat within a former textile factory spans the corner of the fourth floor and has a balcony