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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…

Rates rip-off

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.

Theft

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.

Crazy fees

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.

Fraud

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.

Wasted change

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.

By Natalie Truong, OzForexNatalie Truong is head of the private dealing desk at international money transfer service OzForex. Natalie joined OzForex in 2005 as its first foreign exchange dealer. She recently spent 3.5 years heading up OzForex’s Toronto office, before returning to her home town of Sydney. An expert in forex and money transfers, Natalie has access to OzForex’s market leading research and insight into currency movements and international payments.
  • Thanks for your article,will remember next time l go on holidays!

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  • Really good knowledge to know for holidays! Thanks for sharing this!

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  • Very interesting! Thanks for sharing this!

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  • Great tips, thank you for the article.

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  • hopefully you don’t have to deal with any of this sort of thing

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  • definately have to keep an eye on these things

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  • Thanks again for these tips; have printed them off and keeping handy!

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  • Interesting article and tips.

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  • Thank you for sharing great tips

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  • When we travel I have given our house keeper all our loose change to use on themselves. I know that they loved getting this money as a bonus.

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  • Passed on some of this info today to a friend :)

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  • I don’t think I could go overseas without someone who knows the place and language well I’ve read and heard about too many people that have been stolen from. I would definitely splurge on insurance

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  • Some good tips thank you. It’s always a worry thinking of conversions & fees.

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  • I think I may stay just exploring Australia, after reading this.

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  • Great tips – thank you!

    Reply

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