As you may have noticed, I love to travel, which can end up being expensive. So I have a few handy tips on how to make the most of the money you have and how to maximise what you spend, so that you can travel even more!
Credit cards (if used responsibly) are a great way to maximise your money and travel opportunities. There are a variety of cards that offer airmiles, and the best one for you will generally depend on which airline you fly most often.
If you choose to use one, make sure you pay off the balance each month otherwise you will end up paying interest. Even better, use it like a debit card – transfer some of you salary into the account at the beginning of each month so you are in credit.
An airmiles credit card is also a great choice if you have to pay for work expenses on your personal card (that you claim back later). By using a miles credit card, you are basically getting points for free!
I like the Lloyds Avios/British Airways credit cards. These both give you two credit cards – one American Express and one Mastercard. You can earn more points on the Amex, but Mastercard is more widely accepted.
They allow you to collect Avios points, which can be used on British Airways and their affiliate airlines. There are a few options for each card – some that offer you more benefits, but incur an annual fee. Choosing which card to use will depend on how much you spend on it each month and how often you plan to travel.
You can fly to loads of destinations all over the world, paying with your points. You still have to pay taxes but on most European flights these are only £35 return. I’ve been to France, Sweden, Germany and am about to fly to Canada using these points.
Similarly, the Virgin Atlantic card offers Flying Club points, which can be used on Virgin Atlantic flights, and Emirates offers Skywards points for Emirates and their partner airlines.
Frequent Flyer/Loyalty Schemes
Whenever you travel, make sure you sign up to the airlines frequent flyer scheme. You may not fly with an airline often, but even if its once every few years the points still add up. Also check what travel benefits you can get through your existing loyalty schemes. For example, Nectar points can be used to get discounted easyJet flights.
Flight Comparison Sights
I always use skyscanner.com when searching for flights, as they take prices from multiple sites. Just bear in mind that not all flights include luggage and some of the websites charge fees for credit card payment.
Avoid Bank Charges
Unless you are travelling for a long period of time, avoid taking out money from ATM’s when you are abroad. Nearly all banks charge a fee for this. Instead, get a pre-paid travel card, exchange money before you go, or get a credit card that doesn’t charge for purchases abroad. Or use a combination of these.
I have a Halifax Clarity Credit Card, which is great as you can make as many purchases as you like abroad and you won’t get charged. Plus the exchange rates are really good – usually better than those you find at foreign exchanges. Just make sure you keep track of your spending and pay off the balance at the end of the month, otherwise you will end up paying interest. I only use this card for travel and pay it off as soon as I get back from a trip.
As well as a credit card, you will want to have cash abroad, as not everywhere accepts card, especially if you are travelling in more remote locations. So I take out a small amount of money before I go away. Travel Money Max is a great site for finding the best exchange rates in your area (or for delivery). As I live in London, I generally find Best Foreign Exchange has the top rates.
If you are travelling for a longer period of time, then it’s also worth getting a prepaid cash card. This is much more secure than carrying lots of cash, and you can top them up online when you want to take out more more money (charge free). I have a Travelex Cash Passport. I only use this for taking out cash, rather than payments as you get better rates on the credit card.
One final tip – when paying always select payment in local currency rather than pounds if it offers the option (as you will get a better exchange rate).
So now you have even more reason to get away. Just be sure to pay off a credit card if you get one…..otherwise all the money you saved on flights will end up paying the interest!