With winter bringing its chill, it’s the peak time for Australians to seek the sun in Europe. Overseas travel has been much more affordable over the past couple of years, thanks to the strong Australian dollar. But with the Aussie taking a tumble, how can you make sure you get the best value for your trip and avoid tourist traps?
Here are six sticky situations to avoid holiday money pitfalls…
Changing money at the airport could be quite expensive with high commissions involved. Keep in mind the rates you see advertised in the news is not the actual rate you will receive as most providers will have their margins on top!
Leaving it too late
Many analysts are predicting the Australian dollar is only going to fall further, so it might be wise to buy up some foreign currency ahead of time, even if you’re not leaving for a few weeks. Pre-paid travel cards let you store different currencies on them, extra useful if you’re travelling to more than one destination.
If you’re carrying cash, watch out for pickpockets and be wary of leaving it in hotel rooms. Cards can be a safer option as you can easily cancel them should they be lost or stolen, just ensure you have the 24 hour hotline so you can contact your provider immediately. It’s a good idea to separate your cards and cash in different parts of your luggage.
Some of the fees overseas can be alarming, from hefty cash withdrawal charges when using credit cards in foreign ATMs, to banks secretly doing a “double conversion” (eg Australian dollars to US dollars, then US dollars to local currency) and charging you twice. Make sure your budget has a buffer to withstand this, or get your local currency before you go.
Never let your card out of your sight, and make sure merchants don’t try to swipe it twice. When you come back, be sure to go over your statements with a fine tooth comb. If anything looks untoward, cancel the card immediately. You can also let your bank know you’re back, and instruct them to close off overseas payments until your next trip.
Coming back with too much spare foreign currency in notes and coins can be a bit of a waste – Visa estimates Australians waste an average $354 a year in forgotten change and unused foreign currency. If your spare cash is on a multicurrency card, it’s much easier to swap it to another currency of your choice or convert back to AUD, though you may lose out in conversion fees by doing so.
Take a stress free holiday and take control of your finances by being aware of the international fees involved with travelling.