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Holiday Money

Last updated: 23 March 2015

Holiday money

When it comes to going abroad, whether it’s for a holiday, a business trip, or to see family, planning ahead for your currency can help you pocket some extra spending money.

Last minutes exchanges or using your debit card abroad can be costly mistakes.

MMM’s guide on holiday money will help ensure your pounds stretch further.

Currency exchange at the airport

This is a big no no. Most of us in the excitement of packing and planning our trip tend to leave currency exchange to the last minute and end up doing it at the airport.

This is where the worst deals are as exchange rates at the airport are usually very poor.

To overcome this, before you travel, order your currency online, which if you do via Travelex or American Express, you can pick the money up at the airport or even the currency delivered to you.

The best rates are found online.

Buying online

No matter where you get your currency from, do it online. You will always get a better rate online.

If you are, for example, planning to join the travel money queue at the Post Office, have a look at the online rate instead, which will be higher.

Using debit and credit cards abroad

This is another big no no – unless you have the right card.

When abroad, most people will take some cash and for the rest of their spending use their debit or credit cards, but this is an expensive way of spending.

Most debit cards will charge you around £1.50 for every transaction you make and credit cards will also have add on significant charges for usage abroad.

You can avoid these charges by selecting a credit card that is traveller friendly.

Some of the best credit cards to use include:

*Halifax Clarity – no charges for usage outside the UK

*Capital One Aspire World – no foreign exchange fees, plus 1.25% cash-back on purchases in the UK

But be warned, these credit cards are only worthwhile if you are in a position to pay off your monthly bill in full each month to avoid hefty interest charges.

You should never spend what you can’t pay off in full.

Pre-paid cards

If you are rubbish at sticking to a budget or would rather not take put a credit card, then consider a pre-paid card.

We call these the modern day equivalent to traveller’s cheques – you to load up currency onto a card, which you then use abroad as though you were using a debit card – but without the charges.

You can the pre-paid card in restaurants, shops and for cash withdrawals at ATMs.

You can stick to a budget, as you can only use what you load.

Exchange rates are competitive and it’s safer than carrying cash around.

There are no credit checks involved, so you don’t have to worry about your credit rating either.

You can get one online from a number from a number of specialist providers, such as:

Paying in the local currency

Quite often, retailers or ATMs will ask you how you want to pay. It’s always better to pay in the local currency of the country you are in. You will get the better rate.

What to do with your currency on return

If you think you may come back from holiday with a fair bit of currency still leftover, then make sure you keep your original exchange transaction receipt.

Retailers such as M&S Bank and Post Office, will exchange it back commission free.

Alternatively, you can purchase a buy-back guarantee, which is available via Travelex, which for a small fee, will exchange your currency back into pounds for the same exchange rate; this can be useful if you are going somewhere where currency fluctuations are common and you want to ensure you don’t lose out.

Of course, you can also donate it. Many airlines will collect leftover currency from passengers for charity.

Staying in the UK?

If you’re staying in the UK, you can make use of your childcare vouchers for holiday clubs. You could save up to 38% of the costs if both parents are making use of childcare vouchers. Check with your provider what offer they have and where the vouchers can be used during the summer.

Please note, the childcare voucher system is due to change in Autumn 2015 – we will keep you posted. Until then, it’s business as usual.

Finding the best currency deal

If you want to know where you can find the best currency deal and what the exchange rates are, go to My Currency Transfer

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Reduce your grocery bill by 70% this summer!

The kids are off school and they are going to be hungry – inevitably, the next few weeks will see the cost of your weekly shop shoot up.

To help families keep the costs of food shopping down, MMM put Approved Food to the test, which can help slash the cost of shopping by as much as 70%.

There is of course one catch – the food is past or close to its sell-by date, but perfectly safe.

With a £30 budget, MMM managed to bag a fair amount – cereals, tinned food, sweets and treats, drinks and even laundry detergent and dishwasher tablets – the sort of things where you can generally ignore the date stamped on the product.

If you’ve tried reducing the cost of the grub by switching brands or shopping at discount stores but think you can do better, then try Approved Food  – you’ll be surprised at just how much you could save on some store cupboard essentials.

New products are available everyday and there are some real bargains. For example, Sprite Zero 330ml for just 29p or a 2kg Reeses Peanut jar for just £2.99. There’s even stuff for pets, at more than 50% off.

MMM was really pleased with service and surprised at just how at just how much £30 would buy (see pic above/ instagram).

Although we would like to see Approved Food cut down on the cardboard packaging, the items arrived well packed and in excellent condition.

So, if you’re looking to save a few more pounds on your groceries, take a look at Approved food – you’ll be surprised at just how good the bargains are.


Keep up with MMM on Twitter @MumMoneyMatters and Facebook !


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