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Four things you (and your wallet) need to know before going on holiday

We look at what you need to know about getting the best exchange rates, enjoying perks from airlines, compensation for flight delays and claiming refunds for your bookings.

Whether it’s getting better exchange rates or ensuring you can get your money back if anything goes wrong with your hotel booking, if you’re heading overseas a little bit of preparation can help your money go much further.

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How to get the best exchange rates

After the Brexit vote on 23 June 2016 the exchange rate for the pound fell to lowest it’s been for years against the euro and for decades against the dollar.

So if you’re heading overseas it’s even more important to get the best exchange rate.

Exchange rate post brexit

One of the best ways to get the best exchange rates is to get a credit card that charges no foreign transactions fees. This will give you access to inter-bank or ‘perfect’ exchange rates when using your card overseas.

For example the Post Office Platinum MasterCard allows you to make purchases overseas without any additional fees when you’re overseas (many cards will charge you around 2% per transaction).

You can also buy travel money at favourable rates with no cash advance fee from Post Office branches with this card.

However, note that generally a credit card will only give you perfect exchange rates for purchases made with the card. You will need to still pay extra fees to withdraw cash with your credit card, as well as the additional cash advance fees.

Read more on how to use a credit card correctly overseas.

How to get the best exchange rates for cash

If you want to avoid ATM fees and other bank charges for your holiday cash you’ll need to buy currency the old fashioned way from a bureaux de change, order it online or consider a prepaid currency card.

Specialist online currency brokers tend to offer more competitive rates than high-street bureaux de change, but there are always exceptions so it’s a good idea to shop around well in advance of your trip and avoid getting your money at the airport (where available rates are typically poor).

Prepaid currency cards offer similar rates to online brokers, occasionally you can even get the same ‘perfect’ interbank rates that you can with a credit card, but make sure to read all the small-print as fees are often charged when you ‘load’ money onto the card.

Get airline rewards as you spend

If you want to get free perks or even flights for your spending you could consider getting an airline reward card. These will give you avois points or other reward points you can redeem.

With the British Airways American Express Credit Card you can earn one Avios point for every pound spent, the welcome bonus is 9,000 Avios if you spend £1000 within the first three months of owning the card.

If you’re happy to cough up a large annual fee and there are some impressive rewards on offer from premium airline cards, but unless you’re a frequently flyer you might not get your money’s worth out of these cards.

What to do if your flight is delayed

If your flight is delayed your airline is required to provide you with meals and refreshments to match the length of the delay you are entitled to assistance and possibly compensation between €125-€600.

If you are delayed by more than five hours and decide not to travel, you are entitled to a refund paid by the airline within seven days.

However, if ‘extraordinary circumstances’ caused the delay, your airline may not have to pay compensation, these circumstances include (but are not limited to):

  • Severe weather
  • Security risks
  • Strike action
  • Political instability
  • Air traffic management decisions
  • Technical problems with an aircraft

These rights are covered by European Law (Regulation (EC) 261/2004) and apply to all European airlines flying within Europe, and is not

Get purchase protection for bookings

Using your credit card to pay for one off large payments like hotel bookings, flights or paying package holiday companies is a good idea.

If you use a credit card to pay for purchases you will enjoy additional protections under section 75 of the consumer credit act.

Section 75 is a piece of UK government legislation that means your credit card provider and the trader you make the purchase from are both liable for refunds if something goes wrong.

So if your hotel, airline or holiday company goes bust, you can still get your money back.


  • rih2010

    I always believed that “Technical problems with an aircraft” were covered by the European ruling and were no longer classified as ‘extraordinary circumstances’. It would certainly clarify this before giving up hope of compensation.
    As someone who has recently been awarded such compensation, please don’t use one of the third party companies to obtain compensation for you – maybe only as an absolute last resort. It is straightforward to pursue a claim if you know the correct e-mail address or phone number to put you in touch with the right department at the airline. I recommend gathering as much evidence as possible to support your claim and to be persistent. Don’t be afraid to ask questions to get the information you require. Remember, you were the person delayed and remember how unhappy you were at the time. You have a right to the compensation so go for it.
    Many believe such awards of compensation will lead to increased air fares but competition is fierce. Time will tell.
    I hope my views help.