Money: Don't get caught short

Holidaymakers are switching from travellers' cheques to credit and debit cards when going abroad, writes Nic Cicutti

The great summer exodus is on. More than 23 million people are expected to travel abroad for their holidays this year, in many cases funding their breaks from free share windfalls gifted by demutualising building societies.

Organising each holiday involves meticulous planning, from inoculations to sun tan lotions, to the right level of travel insurance. One of the key decisions travellers need to make is over holiday money.

The most common way of taking money abroad is by using travellers' cheques. These involve a handling charge when they are bought in the UK and another charge when they are exchanged abroad.

However, travellers' cheques are recommended if a journey covers several countries. Cheques, typically available under American Express or Thomas Cook liveries, have serial numbers and can be stopped if lost or stolen. Replacements are usually available within 24 hours. Before travelling abroad, write down the serial number of each cheque and the emergency number to call if lost or stolen. Leave the numbers with a relative or friend. Each cheque should only be countersigned when it is cashed in.

Some cash will always be needed at your destination. When abroad, either deposit most of your cash with the hotel safe, or distribute it within a range of places in your hotel room and luggage, carrying just the minimum with you.

Most banks and building societies will exchange cash and issue travellers' cheques for non-customers.

While it may pay to shop around, as our table shows, savings will only mount up when many hundreds of pounds are exchanged in one go.

Points to watch out for include the minimum charge if less than pounds 200- pounds 300 is being exchanged, whether a handling charge applies (most banks have now scrapped them) and the speed of response to an order.

In the past few years, credit cards have become the simplest way of spending money overseas. More than 33 million cards are in use in the UK and increasing numbers - two-thirds at the last count - take them abroad.

Cards are convenient. They don't involve having to carry large wads of cash around. Moreover users are covered under the Consumer Credit Act. If your goods were faulty, the card provider is jointly liable, alongside the provider, and should reimburse the money, although in such cases it is important to keep the receipt.

Alongside legal protection, most credit card companies also offer bolt- on protection insurance, extendable to items bought outside the UK, and provide cover against damage or theft up to pounds 1,000. Barclaycard users already have this cover.

Credit cards are also increasingly popular for cash withdrawals from bank machines. Beware, though, that the cost of doing so is higher than making simple purchases and involves a 1.5 per cent handling fee, a foreign currency loading hidden within the exchange rate and no interest-rate free period. On the plus side, exchange rates should be better than those often available at foreign bureaux de change.

Debit cards, linked to a person's bank account, offer a similar means of obtaining cash or paying a bill. The system is run by Visa and MasterCard. There are a mass of network signs and symbols operating through both providers. The MasterCard network includes Cirrus, which allows cards to be used at hole-in-the-wall machines, and Maestro for purchases.

Visa uses the Plus logo for cashpoints and Delta for purchases. Electron, another name used by Visa, allows transactions to be debited to an account where it has enough funds.

Before setting off on holiday, check card expiry dates, the availability of outlets in that country and credit balances. Also, check whether the cards have the right logos enabling them to be used abroad. Card protection companies, such as CPP and Sentinel, have replacement and emergency cash facilities. Details of each are available from bank branches.

One new option from both Visa and American Express is the "holiday card", which travellers load with up to pounds 5,000-pounds 6,000 of spending money to withdraw from cashpoint machines. The Amex card is available for the US from Lunn Poly, Britannia and Woolwich building societies. Visa's card operates world-wide and comes through Thomas Cook, Bank of Scotland and Royal Bank of Scotland.

Non- Telepnone Home Type Commission Min Commission Min Handling Charge

customer Order Delivery Charge Charge (per order)

Abbey National No Yes No American Express 1% pounds 1.25 1.5% pounds 1.25 pounds 2

Alliance & Leicester Yes Yes K Yes K Thomas Cook 0.5% None 1.5% None pounds 3

Bank of Scotland Yes Yes Yes D VISA 1% pounds 3 1% pounds 2 pounds 5 home delivery

Barclays Bank Yes Yes Yes A VISA 1.5% pounds 3 2% pounds 3 None

Britannia No Yes Yes American Express 1% pounds 1.50 1% pounds 1.50 pounds 2.50

Halifax Yes Yes No American Express 1% pounds 3 1% pounds 1.25 None

Lloyds Bank Yes Yes No American Express 1% pounds 3 2% pounds 3 None

Midland Bank Yes Yes Yes C Thomas Cook 1% pounds 3 2% pounds 3 None

Nationwide BS No Yes Yes Thomas Cook 1.5% pounds 3 1.5% pounds 3 pounds 3.50

NatWest Bank Yes Yes No American Express 1%M pounds 4 1.5%M pounds 2.50 None

Post Office Counters Yes No No American Express 1% pounds 2.50 1% pounds 2.50 pounds 3.50 express

RB of Scotland Yes Yes No American Express 1% pounds 3 1.5% pounds 2 B None

Thomas Cook Yes Yes Yes L Thomas Cook 1% pounds 3 2% pounds 3 None

TSB Yes Yes J Yes J Thomas Cook 1.5% pounds 3 1.5% pounds 3 None

Woolwich BS Yes No No American Express 1% pounds 3 1.5% pounds 3 pounds 2

A = Premier cardholders only. B = pounds 1 if order less than pounds 20 equipment C = Credit card holders only D = If orderd through Phoneline E = Non-customers pounds 4 F = Orders not taken by telephone H = pounds 1K plus - 0.50% commosion per currency J = TSB debit and credit card holders only. pounds 2.95 postage charge for home delivery K = Allaince account holders only L = Only through Thomas Cook Direct on 01733 335535 M = Additional 0.50% for non-customers

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Finacial products from our partners
Property search
New Energy Secretary, Amber Rudd, wrote to the Big Six suppliers to ask whether prices are reflecting companies’ costs

It’s time to wipe out our energy debt

Companies should start to play fair and pass on reductions to customers

The programme was a look back at the Mad Men-y age of the Sixties and Seventies

Women born in 1950s facing severe financial hardship over pensions could have fates changed by Ros Altmann - should she choose to help

Women born in 1950s facing severe financial hardship over pensions could have fates changed by Ros Altmann - should she choose to help

PPI complaints were down by about a half

Banks face fresh wave of PPI compensation claims after landmark ruling

The PPI scandal has already cost Britain’s banks around £24 billion

Some experts warn that the bond sell-off may continue until the autumn, when the US Federal Reserve is expected to lift interest rates

Is it really that bad in the bond market?

The great sell-off has sparked fears for our pensions as well as bonds. Simon Read asks if you should keep calm or panic
Up and away: rates will rise but your mortgage won't escape its moorings with a long-term fix

Is a 10 year mortgage deal a fix too far?

A cut-price deal for a decade-long home loan - where's the problem? Only, says Simon Read, that circumstances can change and it won't be easy to get out
In a surprise move the Tories have decided against putting a career politician into the job. Instead they’ve handed the responsibility to campaigner Ros Altmann

New pensions minister has massive job on her hands

The Tories have appointed campaigner Ros Altmann to the post

Promises, promises: David Cameron talks to staff at Asda's head office in Leeds today

General Election 2015: How you vote next week could affect your finances

Rival party pledges could shrink your savings or grow your nest egg
Logos for the 'Big Six'; energy companies (top row from left) British Gas, EDF, RWE npower, (bottom row from left) SSE, E.ON and ScottishPower

Winter heating underpayment brings summer pain

One reader’s monthly direct debit charge has been increased by 62 per cent

Almost 15,000 people died last winter through living in cold homes that they couldn’t afford to heat

Social tenants locked into energy tariff for 40 years

Many Londoners who live in social housing estates are not allowed to switch because their landlord has ‘locked’ them in to buying from one supplier

Will your credit card rewards be scrapped following new EU rules on charges?

Providers are unhappy with new EU rules - but ultimately it is customers who will have to foot the bill
There remain more than a million unclaimed Premium Bond prizes worth collectively around £48m

Have you won £1m in the May Premium Bonds draw?

More than £60m was paid out to more than 2 million prizewinners this month

The 0 per cent introductory deals that credit cards offer are one of the most odious tricks

Beware credit card firms’ odious tricks

Why can’t we just have open and honest charges, without all the cross-subsiding?

The pound’s recent strength against the euro could be hit by economic uncertainty under a new government

How planning can make your travel cash go further

With the pound at a high against the euro, it pays to buy now before uncertainty post-election

Put the phone down on the coldcallers who see pension liberation as an opportunity to liberate your pension from you

Pension freedoms: How to deal with cold calls from scammers

Sean O'Grady offers advice on keeping your money safe
Switching to a better bank account is much easier than it used to be

More people are switching current accounts – but what do the figures mean?

Experts disagree about the 7% increase over the past year

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Money & Business

    Recruitment Genius: Digital Optimisation Executive - Marketing

    £30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The UK's fastest growing, multi...

    Recruitment Genius: Financial Reporting Manager

    £70000 - £90000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Financial Reporting Manager i...

    Recruitment Genius: Payments Operations Assistant

    £23000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They win lots of awards for the...

    Recruitment Genius: Telephone Debt Negotiator

    £13500 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This nationwide enforcement com...

    Day In a Page

    Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

    Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

    Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
    Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

    The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

    Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
    Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

    The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

    Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
    The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

    The future of songwriting

    How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
    William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

    Recognition at long last

    Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
    Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

    Beating obesity

    The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
    9 best women's festival waterproofs

    Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

    These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)
    Cycling World Hour Record: Nervous Sir Bradley Wiggins ready for pain as he prepares to go distance

    Wiggins worried

    Nervous Sir Bradley ready for pain as he prepares to attempt cycling's World Hour Record
    Liverpool close in on Milner signing

    Liverpool close in on Milner signing

    Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
    On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

    On your feet!

    Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
    With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

    The big NHS question

    Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
    Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

    Thongs ain't what they used to be

    Big knickers are back
    Thurston Moore interview

    Thurston Moore interview

    On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
    In full bloom

    In full bloom

    Floral print womenswear
    From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

    From leading man to Elephant Man

    Bradley Cooper is terrific