Five expensive mistakes could cost you thousands at the Euros

From credit cards to drinking rules - avoid five pricey pitfalls at the Euros

Northern Ireland v Belarus - International Friendly - Windsor Park

The Euro 2016 championship kicked off on 10 June, and around 500,000 British and Northern Irish have joined the party. Only half of them actually have tickets: the rest are travelling purely for the atmosphere and the joy of supporting their team.

However, as any football fan knows, joy can quickly turn to disappointment, and if you fall foul of the five pricey pitfalls facing fans during the tournament, you could have far more to worry about than a penalty shootout.

It's therefore worth knowing the risks, and taking precautions.

1. Alcohol exclusions

If you're thinking of drinking while you're away, it's important to keep in mind that doing so excessively could invalidate your travel insurance. Alex Edwards, travel insurance spokesperson at, says: "Insurers tend to take a common sense approach to alcohol while you're abroad. Typically they'll understand you're looking to have a good time while you're away and therefore drinking in moderation is unlikely to be a problem. However, if you do drink excessively or have an accident where it is deemed that being intoxicated was the main contributing factor, it's possible you'll have your claim rejected which could result in a hefty medical bill.

"French officials have also stated that alcohol will be banned in stadiums and in certain public areas such as fan zones and streets on match days. This means not only could consuming alcohol in public could land you in hot water with the local police, but by going against the advice of the local authority you may not be covered under your travel insurance policy should you have an accident, lose possessions or require medical attention."

2. Car hire excesses

If you plan to fly and drive, then when you come to pick the car up, there's always the chance you'll face a horrible shock when they tell you what the excess is (the amount you'll have to pay if you have an accident). Some firms charge thousands of pounds, and will try to sell you expensive excess cover.

If you check the excess before you go, you can shop around for this cover, and save a fortune. Edwards points out: "It's worth bearing in mind that the excess cover offered by the rental company rarely represents the best value for money and that there are several providers who offer this cover separately, so be sure to consider your options as you'll likely find a better deal elsewhere."

3. EHIC assumptions

If you're travelling anywhere in the European Union, you will definitely need a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). This means you're entitled to the same care as someone who lives in the country you're visiting.

However, it's dangerous to assume that this will cover you for all your medical needs, because in France it's common to have to pay for part of your care - especially if you end up at a private hospital. If you need to be flown home to hospital, the EHIC doesn't cover this either, so you could end up with a bill for thousands of pounds. It means it's essential to have the EHIC and travel insurance on top.

4. Driving errors

It's not enough just to throw your suitcase in the boot and head off, you need to prepare for the French roads too. You'll need to be at least 18, and have at least third party insurance.

Additionally, drivers are required to carry a host of equipment in their car, including a breathalyser and warning triangle. Matt Oliver, car insurance spokesperson at, says: "In addition to the compulsory equipment needed, it's worth bearing in mind that the blood alcohol limit in France is slightly lower than in England and Wales and is just 0.05%, the same as in Scotland. There are also severe penalties including fines, licence confiscation and even prison for those who are over the limit and it is unlikely any French police officers, who are authorised to carry out random tests, will let things slide even if your team has been knocked out in the group stages."

And while it's not compulsory, it's worth thinking about breakdown cover too. You may be able to add this to your current cover for a small fee, and if you're travelling with friends you can ask them to split the cost.

5. Credit card fees

Matt Sanders, head of money at, says: "The right credit card can provide the most cost-effective way of spending while you're on holiday, with some cards providing fee-free spending and bureau-beating exchange rates." They're also a more secure way to fund your trip than strolling the streets with rolls of cash in your pockets.

However, not every card is suitable for spending in Europe, because some charge hefty fees for foreign use and cash withdrawals - debit cards in particular can be expensive. You need to check what your card provider will charge you, so you don't come home to any nasty surprises.

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