Eight holiday money-draining mistakes you can avoid

How to make sure your holiday doesn't leave you out of pocket

Updated: 

turquoise sea  deckchairs ...

Holiday season is upon us and millions of travellers will be jetting abroad over the coming months for their annual break - but it pays to be smart about it.

Worrying figures earlier this month revealed the £2.7 million being lost each year to scam bookings websites , and with Brexit (and sterling) uncertainty, the electronics ban and a series of firms including Wicked Travel going bust, it's never been more important to plan ahead to make sure you are protected.

See also: Top ten common holiday scams to look out for

See also: Ten most hated holiday rip offs and how to avoid them

We've compiled a money-saving guide on tips and warnings to make sure your trip isn't a disastrous one.

1. Electronics ban - are your gadgets protected?

The ban on carrying electronic devices as hand luggage to the Middle East, and potentially the US, could leave millions of passengers without cover for expensive gadgets.

Currently passengers flying to the UK from Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt, Tunisia or Saudi Arabia have to put electronic devices larger than a smartphone in their hold luggage - making them exempt from travel insurance policies.

However, research by Which? Travel magazine found that five major travel insurance companies - Aviva, Axa, Churchill, Direct Line and LV - did not have cover in place for valuables placed in the hold for loss, theft or damage. Aviva has since extended its baggage insurance to cover laptops for as long as the restrictions apply.

TravelSupermarket expert Emma Coulthurst said: "If you need to take your gadgets, and you've been told that you'll need to check it in, first thing you should do is speak to your insurance provider to find out if your electronic items are covered."

If you find out there is no cover, opt for a policy that does cover your electricals, or reconsider whether you really need to take the items abroad.

2. Fraudulent websites

In recent months there's been a spike in the number of hoax websites posing as booking firms , and cashing in on vulnerable travellers.

This includes 'too good to be true' deals on websites created with photos and descriptions stolen from genuine pages.

They set up a pay-per-click arrangement with Google for keywords such as "Balearic villas", meaning their company is listed at the top of the search engine.

But after thousands of pounds are handed over – encouraged by discounts for payment in full – the deception unfolds when contact dries up.

Emma Coulthurst, said: "Be suspicious if the only payment option available is a bank transfer. Another big giveaway is a cheap-looking low-resolution site with fuzzy logos for the major trade associations (such as ABTA) and credit card companies.

"Remember, most fraudsters are looking for a quick rip-off, so investing large sums of money into a fake website isn't high on their priority list – scrutinising these little details could save you a lot of hassle and money in the long run.

"Even something as small as a change in the domain name – for example, going from a co.uk to .org – could be a sign of fraud."

3. Beat rip-off car hire costs

Credits: Getty Images

If you're booking a car hire online, make sure it's from a genuine website . The last thing you need is to arrive at the hire store to be told there's 'no booking under your name'.

"When you hire a car, insurance is included. But you may well find it comes with incredibly high excess charges – the amount you have to pay to cover the cost of an accident before the policy kicks in," explains Emma.

"This amount can be up to £2,000 in some cases – potentially leaving you well out of pocket if something goes wrong. Buy an excess waiver policy, which reduces the charge to zero or a small sum."

Websites like icarhireinsurance.com offer waiver rates from £5 a day .

You can use a comparison website to find the best rates on the car hire itself. All compulsory charges should be included in the quote, but double check for extras such as young driver surcharges, one way fees and premium location fees before you jet off.

Check the fuel policy. Decent firms should offer you the option to pick up and return the vehicle with a full tank of fuel – so you only pay for the fuel you need, and at the local area rate rather than at a premium cost.

Don't forget your sat nav - these firms will charge you a mint to rent one - and you'll be liable if anything happens to it.

And finally, make sure you inspect the vehicle for damage with the car hire firm before you drive off. Ensure they note any damage, however small and take your own photographs as evidence.

4. Make sure your holiday is ATOL protected

Credits: Uppercut RF

It is essential that you get your travel insurance on the day you book, so that you are covered should anything go wrong in the run up to your holiday.

Holidays4U, Aegean Flights, Goldtrail, Kiss Flights and XL Airways have all gone under in recent years, and even Thomas Cook ran into difficulties in November 2011 - sending shockwaves through the sector.

If you spend your hard-earned cash on a longed-for holiday, you may well have fears of losing your cash or being left stranded abroad.

"The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) runs a financial protection scheme for holidaymakers – the Air Travel Organisers' Licensing scheme or ATOL," explains Emma.

"By law, any UK company selling package holidays that include air travel must guarantee total financial protection via the ATOL bond system. A package is your flights plus at least one other element – for example, your flights and a hotel bought together.

Be aware that hotel-only or car hire only bookings made through tour operators are not ATOL-protected.

The scheme also does not protect holidays where there is no air travel such as a cruise or rail holiday.

"An ATOL-protected package means, should something happen before you travel - the FCO advises against all but essential travel to the destination you are visiting - you receive a full refund, replacement travel or new dates of travel.

When you're browsing for your trip, check for the ATOL logo on the site. If you can't see one, then ask the holiday company for its ATOL number and check it on the CAA website before you book.

5. Get the right travel insurance

Credits: Getty

The EHIC is a must for holidays to the EU but it only gives access to medical care at the same level as locals in the country you are visiting, and many don't have a free system like our NHS.

Travel insurance is therefore a good idea. Be totally honest about all of your medical conditions, no matter how trivial you think they are. Don't be tempted to not declare some conditions to save money – it is a false economy.

EHIC also does not give any assistance with repatriation, should you need to be brought home in an emergency, something that can cost tens of ­thousands of pounds.

You should take out travel insurance which includes cover for "supplier failure" as well as "scheduled airline failure insurance" (SAFI).

TravelSupermarket recommends an insurance policy with £2million cover, this includes a minimum £1,300 for baggage, and £3,000 for cancellations.

Where possible, you should pay for your holiday using a credit card or Visa debit card, as this will give you added protection.

6. Airport parking

Credits: Stockbyte

Leaving your car at the airport could cost you up to £30 per day, but if you really need to travel by car there are affordable alternatives.

Book in advance and search for nearby park and ride services - many of which offer a shuttle bus from the car park to the gate in just a matter of minutes. You can compare costs on a price comparison website such as MoneySupermarket .

If you have to park at the airport itself, book through the official website as early as you can. Depending on the airport you need book at least 24 or 48 hours before arrival or you'll end up paying the drive-up rate.

7. Travel money

Credits: Getty

Shop around in advance online to find the best rates.

By using Moneysavingexpert's travel money maximiser tool to compare rates amongst best buy companies, you can save a significant amount.

The worst decision you can possibly make is to buy at the airport.

That's because airport concessions offer some of the highest rates around - and you could end up flushing half of your holiday savings down the drain.

" Don't leave changing money to the last minute. You'll miss out on better rates and end up paying as much as 19% more at the airport meaning you could lose £150 for every £1,000 exchanged," FairFX CEO Ian Strafford-Taylor told Mirror Money.

"If you leave it as late as the airport, you'll face among the worst exchange rates in the country."

If you have left it to the last minute, you can buy online the day before - or up to four hours before your flight - and pick up the cash at the airport. The rates might not be the best available, but it will be a lot better than if you just turn up.

8. How to maximise your holiday money

"Don't get stung by high charges from using your debit or credit card abroad. You can save lots by getting a credit card which is specifically designed for overseas spending," explains Emma Coulthurst.

"Almost all debit and credit cards charge a loading fee – an extra percentage which the card company levies on any purchase you make - which can be anything between an extra 2.75% and 2.99% every time.

"And if you use your card to withdraw money from an ATM abroad, you'll be charged a cash withdrawal fee in addition to the loading fee; that's usually in the region of 2%.

"Some of the most punishing debit cards to use overseas impose yet another extra charge known as a "purchase fee" or a "spending penalty" that will cost you between £1 and £1.50."

Only if you hold a Gold account from Norwich & Peterborough, a Nationwide FlexPlus account or a current account from Metro Bank (only within Europe) will your debit card be either free or relatively cheap to use abroad. Compare prepaid cards here .

Otherwise, the MBNA Everyday Plus American Express credit card charges no fees at all for purchases or cash withdrawals abroad as well as relatively low interest.

And remember, don't fall for the double exchange rate con. If you let the seller in a shop or restaurant covert the price back into pounds, they will choose their own exchange rate and you're more likely to be on the less favourable end of the deal.

Insist on paying in the local currency to avoid this.

Top ten most hated holiday rip-offs

Top ten most hated holiday rip-offs


provided by