20 October 2016

Stretch your money further this half-term

The October half-term break gives you the chance to enjoy one last blast of summer before the winter chill really sets in. A beach holiday in southern Europe or a long-distance trip to Florida could provide a final taste of sunshine as the nights draw in and the clocks go back in the UK.

But if you're planning some time abroad with the kids during the upcoming school holidays, you’ll need to think carefully about your overseas spending and your use of credit cards. With the pound falling against currencies like the euro and the dollar in light of the EU referendum result, it’s important to make your money stretch as far as possible.

Top overseas spending tips

As half-term approaches, your hotel and flights may already be paid for. But what other spending priorities should you focus on before jetting off? 

  • Keep a close eye on exchange rates 

As we’ve mentioned, the pound has endured something of a rollercoaster ride in recent months, on the back of the June 23 referendum result. A weak pound can increase the cost of a holiday, by effectively making the goods sold in foreign countries more expensive while you’re there.  

So before heading off for a half-term trip, it’s worth taking the time to check the exchange rate between the pound and the local currency. Even if sterling has fallen in value, at least you’ll be prepared and it won’t come as such a shock if things cost more than you expected. 

  • Shop around for the best currency deal 

If you plan to use cash for the majority of your holiday spending, it’s well worth shopping around for the best currency deal – especially with the pound’s recent movements proving so unpredictable. Don’t just exchange your pounds at the first bureau de change you come across. 

Instead, visit a number of different travel agents and switch your money only once you’ve found the best rate. On a similar note, don’t wait until the last minute and only exchange your money when you get to the airport. It’s much harder to secure a good deal once you’re checked in and waiting in the departure lounge. 

  • Avoid credit card commission charges 

In the past, Brits heading overseas may have been wary of encountering charges when using their credit cards for purchases in other countries. But this needn’t be the case anymore. Products such as our very own Select Credit Card (available exclusively for our main current account customers) offer unlimited commission-free purchases abroad (Representative 15.9% APR (variable)), so doing a bit of research before you set foot on a plane could really pay off. 

On the subject of cards, it’s also important to remember that you could be charged to withdraw money from foreign ATMs. To avoid this headache, it might be worth exchanging some pounds into the local currency before heading abroad, ensuring there’s already foreign cash in your wallet when your plane touches down. 

  • Check if you already have travel insurance 

Travel insurance can offer a valuable source of protection when you’re abroad, covering the costs of medical bills and things like lost luggage. But before you rush out and buy some cover, it’s worth checking to see if you already have it as part of a packaged current account. Our FlexPlus current account provides Worldwide Family Travel Insurance as one of its account benefits, all for £10 a month, so you don’t have to buy it separately (limitations and exclusions apply).

Budget carefully for half-term breaks

Wherever you plan to jet off to this half-term, make sure exchange rates and credit card charges are near the top of your spending checklist.

And don’t forget about the importance of budgeting even while you’re away from home. Keeping a tight rein on your spending and avoiding the temptations holidays can bring will stop you from overstretching your finances.

Learn more about the benefits of our Select Credit Card

Credit cards are available to UK residents aged 18 and over with a minimum income of £5,000 per year, and are subject to status. You need to be 18 or over to apply for a FlexPlus account. To be eligible for the insurance products that come with the account you must be a UK resident. FlexPlus Worldwide Family Travel Insurance is underwritten by UK Insurance Limited.

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