Six summer holiday travel money tips

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With the summer holidays well underway, many of us will be heading off for a well-deserved break.

While record numbers of us are opting for a staycation, a lot will be heading overseas.

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This means, along with the sunscreen, swimming costume and sunglasses, people will be adding travel money to their shopping lists.

But with so many travel money options, from the plastic in your wallet to the airport bureaux de change, how do you know you're getting the best deal.

Here, we offer our six travel money tips for your summer getaway.

1. Find out the charges

Cash is dead, or so they say and they might very well be right. Our wallets, purses and handbags are full of plastic cards and smartphones we can use to pay for things. So why would we bother carry around notes and coins?

Plastic is certainly convenient. Credit and debit cards are accepted around the globe and, unless you're heading off the beaten-track, you probably won't struggle to find a cash machine. But is this a good way of spending abroad?

Unfortunately, there's no definitive answer. It all comes down to your bank and card provider.

Many credit and debit cards charge a foreign transaction fee, around 3% of the total. If you take out money, you can be hit with a withdrawal fee. Credit card providers might also start charging you interest on overseas transactions straight away.

To find out if cards are a good way of spending on holiday, you need to find out what your bank will charge you.

2. Fee-free credit cards

The good news is, there are a range of credit cards, which get rid of all, or some, of these fees, but you need to be careful and think about how you will use the card.

Some might not charge the transaction fee, which makes them great for spending, but charge more for withdrawals. Others are better for withdrawals, but charge more for spending.

Just remember, if you're going to be using your credit card on holiday, make sure you pay it off in full at the end of the month to avoid any nasty interest charges.

3. Look at pre-paid cards

These are a great alternative to traveller's cheques. Simply load a card with money before you leave and use it in the same way as a debit card.

However, you need to be careful with what card you are using. Some cards charge you to top up or withdraw money from a cash machine. Others have a monthly fee or a penalty charge for not using the money within a certain period.

But, if you choose the right one for your spending needs, pre-paid cards can be very useful. They also have the added benefit of not allowing you to overspend.

4. Take some cash with you

Cards are great, but it's always useful to have some cash with you for small purchases, taxis and tips.

But there are some safety tips you need to know. Make sure you never walk around with all your travel money on you in case you lose it or it gets stolen and check your travel insurance policy to see how much cash you are covered for.

And remember, withdrawing money with your debit or credit card might incur charges and interest.

5. But make sure you shop around

Not all travel money shops offer the same exchange rate, so it's really important you shop around to get the best deal.

You also need to keep an eye on any extra charges for delivery, or if they only deliver to your home address. After all, you don't want to miss out on your travel money because nobody was at home.

6. Don't buy at the airport

Whatever you do, make sure you sort out your travel money before you leave.

The bureaux de change at the airport, ferry terminal or train station are much more expensive than high street and online providers.

This article is provided by the Money Advice Service.

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How we spend our pensions
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How we spend our pensions

Figures from Saga show that the over 50s now account for the majority of money spent by Brits on travel and tourism. They have the time to spare, the money, and they are healthy enough to take on the world.

A poll from Abta found that in the wake of pension freedoms, 35% of people were considering cashing in at least part of their pension to travel. A separate study by Senior Railcard found that pensioners take an average of three holidays a year, plus two weekends away, and 17 day trips.

Research from Senior Railcard found that retirees eat out an average of three times a month. However, one in ten do so more than twice a week, and one in three people said that one of the first things they did when they retired was to go out for lunch with their friends.

Of course, just because retirees want to enjoy themselves, it doesn't mean they are happy to throw money away. The vast majority are keen to eat at lunchtimes, when a fixed lunch menu tends to be cheaper, and canny retirees are skilled at tracking down pensioner special offers too.

Figures from the Office for National Statistics show that on average nearly a fifth of the money spent by people aged 65-74 is on leisure. This includes everything from the cinema and theatre to golfing and gardening. They spent more on this than on food, energy bills and transport.

A report by Canada Life found that retirees are spending £4,279 a year on having fun - that’s more than £1,000 more than they spend on boring essentials, and is a 74% increase over the past ten years. It went on to predict that this trend was set to continue, and that pension freedoms would encourage people to spoil themselves a bit more in retirement

Pensioner property wealth is now over £850 billion, and all these family homes don’t look after themselves. The Senior Railcard survey put home renovations in the top 20 activities people got stuck into on retirement, and figures from ABTA found that almost a third of people who were considering raiding their pension pots under the new pension freedoms planned to spend the cash on their home. This seems like an eminently sensible investment - looking after what is undoubtedly their most valuable asset.

Unsurprisingly, while some pensioners are very well off indeed, others are struggling with debt. Figures from Key Retirement found that the average retiree has £34,000 of debt.

Most of this is mortgage borrowing - in many cases driven up by the number of people who unwittingly signed up to an interest-only mortgage. However, credit cards, overdrafts, and loans are also common. It’s why so many pensioners have used pension freedoms to access enough cash to pay their debts.

The day to day basics are swallowing up their fair share of pensioner cash too. On average, people aged 65-74 spend a third of their weekly income on essentials like food and bills - which is hardly living the high life.
The bank of gran and grandad has become an increasingly vital source of cash for families. According to Key Retirement, of those who release equity from their property, 21% of them use the cash to treat their children and grandchildren. This includes an average of £33,350 to help children get onto the property ladder, £6,000 to buy them a new car, £11,000 on family weddings, and £24,780 giving grandchildren a helping hand.

While retirees are quite rightly spending what they need to enjoy retirement, they are hardly all throwing caution to the wind, buying flash cars and spending the kids' inheritance.

Most expect to have something left over to pass onto their family after their death. Some 69% expect to leave property in their wills, and 75% expect to leave cash - according to Unbiased.co.uk - because while baby boomers know how to have fun - they also know how to save for the future.

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