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Holiday checklist for your finances

You've booked two weeks off work, stocked up on sunscreen and picked out your beach reading, all in preparation for your long-awaited holiday.

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Holiday checklist for your finances
Holiday checklist for your finances

But before you jump on the plane to paradise, there are a few remaining items to be ticked off the holiday checklist to ensure your trip goes without a hitch.

We're not talking about flip-flops, a snorkel and bikinis here, we're talking about your finances.

1. Get travel insurance

Travel insurance can provide valuable protection for you and your holiday, meaning your costs are covered should things not go to plan.

Generally, travel insurance should cover:

  • medical costs that are incurred on a trip abroad

  • lost, damaged, or stolen possessions

  • the cancellation or abandonment of your trip

More comprehensive policies can include extra cover for valuables and gadgets, lost travel documents, missed excursions and much more.

While you might be tempted to wait until your suitcases are packed, it's advisable to take out travel insurance as soon as you've booked your trip. If you take out travel insurance with cancellation cover, you'll be covered from the moment you buy the policy, rather than the start date of your trip.

It's important to note, following the coronavirus outbreak, travel insurance policies have changed. If you bought your insurance policy before the coronavirus outbreak, you may still be covered for disruption or cancellation of your holiday flight or package. 

Travel insurance policies can be taken out on a multi-trip or single-trip basis, and for a single person or an entire family. You may need to purchase extra cover if you're taking part in winter sports or adventure activities.

The advice from ABTA - The Travel Association - is to shop around and remember the cheapest option won't always be best.

You can learn more about travel insurance policies in our guide, or get started by searching for a travel insurance deal below:

Compare travel insurance

Search for travel insurance policies with Uswitch and*

If you have a pre-existing condition, you can still get a quote. These conditions could include cancer, stroke, serious heart, respiratory and terminal conditions.

Some insurers might not cover you if you already have a serious medical condition, or if you have a number of conditions. Others might only offer insurance at a much higher price. If you're unable to find suitable cover, the Money and Pension Service (MaPS) has also set up a directory of insurers willing to cover customers with pre-existing medical conditions.

You can contact the Money and Pensions Service (MaPS) or you can telephone 0800 138 7777.

2. Get a good deal on your spending money

Chances are you've saved long and hard for your holiday, whether it's a summer break or winter retreat, it pays to go the extra mile to make sure you get the best deal on your spending money.

Getting best rates on travel money

Remember to take both exchange rates and commission rates into account when converting your cash. Never leave it until you're at the airport, as the rates are always higher than on the high street, or if you order online.

Many currency specialists offer pre-paid cards, which can be used to pay for things and withdraw money without being charged additional fees.

Using your bank card overseas

If you simply withdraw cash from an ATM with your debit card overseas you'll exchange at near 'perfect' interbank rates, but your bank will charge you a 'foreign transaction fee' of around 2-3% and there may be additional ATM fees.

Depending on where you're going, some banks offer fee-free withdrawals and spending, but this is often currency and country specific, so check the small print of your account.

If you do use your debit card abroad to either withdraw cash or make purchases, make sure to never choose the 'dynamic currency conversion' which will offer to let you pay in pounds sterling, as this will cost you another fee on top of the others.

Credit cards for travel

Most credit cards charge a foreign transaction fee of 2%, but some credit cards won’t charge extra for making an overseas purchase in a foreign currency. These cards are usually called 'travel credit cards' and can be a handy way to make purchases overseas.

However, you shouldn't withdraw cash with a credit card, as not only will you still need to pay transaction fees of around 2% you will usually be charged a higher rate of interest from the moment you withdraw the cash.

You also enjoy better levels of purchase protection with credit cards, and can claim refunds through your card provider if need be, these rights are protected under section 75 of the consumer credit act.

Going on holiday?

Avoid paying expensive fees for using your credit card abroad with a travel credit card.

Let your bank know before you go

Regardless of how you chose to pay abroad, it could be worth informing your bank that you're travelling, so you don't get a nasty surprise when your account is frozen due to unusual activity.

3. Get ready to roam with your phone

With some phone providers, you no longer have to pay roaming charges for using your phone in a wide variety of countries around the world. As the minutes or texts you use will be taken from your usual allowance. But the nightmare of returning home to a ridiculously high bill is still a possibility, if you don't know what you're entitled to.

All the major UK networks now offer roaming schemes that allow you to use your UK allowances while you're in the EU for no extra charge. However, it's worth checking whether you are also covered for further afield.

You can check which destinations are covered by your network's roaming scheme here:

If you can't see your chosen holiday destination, you may want to consider signing up for an add-on for an additional charge.

Which network is best for roaming? We take a look at each in turn.

Other travel tips we'd recommend when using your phone abroad include:

1) Don't opt out of data caps

Networks impose a worldwide usage cap also known as a data cap (set between £40-£49, depending on which network you're with). Opting out is easy. But in so doing, you'd open yourself up to the risk of a massive bill shock.

2) Use free Wi-Fi at the hotel and cafeés

Free Wi-Fi is more and more common at hotels. To keep your usage down, you may want to take advantage of this as much as you can. But be mindful that some free Wi-Fi networks only extend to certain parts of the hotel.

3) Look into local SIMs

Provided your phone is unlocked, you can use a SIM card from a local network in your holiday destination. They're a great of keeping the cost of texts under control.

Need help with roaming charges?

Head to our comprehensive guide.

But you can still be caught out if you're not careful. For instance, some countries in Europe, such as Iceland and Norway, aren't EU members. So if you use your phone in those locations, you'll still incur charges.

*To help you compare travel insurance policies and find the right cover for your requirements, Uswitch has selected to provide you with quotes. Quotations are provided by on a non-advised basis. This means that no advice is given or implied and you are solely responsible for deciding whether the policy is suitable for your needs. is a trading name of Investment Discounts Online Ltd and is registered in England and Wales, registration number 04231834. Registered address One Coleman Street, London, EC2R 5AA. Authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority, registration number 197451. Investment Discounts On-Line Ltd is part of the Legal & General Group. This can be confirmed at View's Our Services DocumentPrivacy policy and Terms & Conditions.