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How to use a credit card abroad

Holiday checklist for your finances

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

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

We’re not talking about flip flops, a snorkle and sunscreen here, we’re talking about your finances.

1. Get travel insurance

Travel insurance is a must for anyone heading on holiday, not just in the event that something happens while you’re away, but in case the trip is cancelled all together.

Generally travel insurance will pay for any medical costs which are incurred on a trip abroad or if your money or possessions are lost or stolen. It is recommended that the policy includes £1 million of emergency medical cover if you are travelling in Europe, and £2 million if you are going to the US or anywhere else in the world. There should also be £1,000 or more for lost baggage and £200 to £500 for lost cash.

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.

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2. Get a good deal on your spending money

Chances are you’ve saved long and hard for your summer break, so it pays to go the extra mile to make sure you get the best deal on your spending money.

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

If you’re not keen on carrying large amounts of cash round, which isn’t always a good idea when you’re abroad, you need to consider how you’re going to pay for things.

Holiday checklist for your finances

Pre-paid cards are a good idea if you have the forethought to preload them with currency before making the trip. They can be used to pay for things and take money from an ATM, for which you will be charged a flat fee. Providers like FairFx also charge no transaction fees.

Credit cards have some advantages in that you are provided with legal cover for the money you spend if the service is not up to scratch.

However, some cards can also charge foreign currency loading fees and higher rates of interest than you would pay at home. For this reason it could be worth looking for an alternative when you travel abroad. The same is true for debit cards.

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. Sort out your mobile phone

Long-gone are the days when people went on holiday to get away from it all and only contacted home by sending a postcard.

Mobile phones are now a staple in many suitcases, yet the prices charged to use them while away could leave a big dent in your finances.

Holidaymakers can incur charges for answering the phone or picking up a voicemail and although charges have been capped, the prices are still high.

However, a few simple steps could make life much cheaper. Firstly, make sure you know how much you will be charged before you leave for your trip.

Secondly, ask your family and friends to only send you text messages and consider getting your voicemail switched off for the duration of your trip.

Thirdly, it could also be worth investing in a roaming package or an international SIM card to keep costs down.

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