Best Travel Money Options

Published in Travel Tips & Tricks

best travel money options

Spending the wrong way abroad could be costing you, when travelling you have many options for getting the best rate. If you don’t consider your options and go and get currency at the airport or off your high fee debit card it could be costing you up to £100's.
For example if we where to spend 1000 euro.
From a Speciality credit card repaid in Full- £781
Cash, via UK Cheapest exchange- £798
Cash from the post office – £802
Using a debit card with fees (Halifax) - £829
Change at airport (Heathrow not pre-ordered)- £864
As you can see being prepared for travelling could have saved just under £100 which could have went on a romantic meal or an attraction ticket, so planning the foreign currency prior to arrival is always key. 

The best option normally is a non-sterling transaction fee credit or debit card meaning that you don’t get charged to use your card abroad for card payment and in some cases ATM’s. When travelling regularly these cards are a must travel accessory. Although the currency conversation is very important as well as the fee, when you use a credit/debit card abroad you get a choice to either get it converted by the ATM’s bank or your own card provider. Always do the transaction in the countries currency and let your own card provider convert it as it is always a better rate regardless if you get charged by your bank/card provider or not. In our experience MasterCard and AMEX exchange rates seem to be a lot better than Visa and I would always consider this when getting a travel card.

Top pick credit cards.
Halifax Clarity MasterCard
-This card has no fees when using the card abroad for card-based transactions.
-No annual fee.
-No Cash withdrawal fees but you will get charged interest from the date of the cash withdrawal but it will only be charged at standard interest rate, but this can be dodged if you either use the card only for card based transactions or pay of the cash withdrawals every couple of days.

MBNA Everyday Plus
–This card has no fees when using the card abroad.
–There are no ATM withdrawal fees home or abroad.
–Very low interest of 7.4% APR for both Cash and card Transactions.
–This card has no fees when using the card abroad.
–There are no ATM withdrawal fees home or abroad.
–Very low interest of 7.4% APR for both Cash and card Transactions.

Aqua Reward MasterCard
–This card has no fees when using the card abroad on spend based transactions.
–Has high interest 34.9% APR but if paid off at full every month this shouldn’t matter
–APR is charged on Cash Withdrawals regardless of when it paid off though.
–Overall this card is a lot easier to get compared to other travel cards, as these may require a stronger Credit file.

Other top cards:

Post Office (MasterCard) 
–No fees when using the card abroad on spend based transactions.
–0% on all purchases for the first three months
–No cash fee to buy travel money from the post office Saga (Visa)
–No fees when using the card abroad on spend based transactions.
–0% on all purchases for the first nine months
–0% Cash interest for 55 days – but a 2% fee

Nationwide's Select (Visa - for Nationwide current account customers only).
–No fees when using the card abroad on spend based transactions.
–£25 reward on your first £25 transaction
–Earn 0.5% unlimited cash back on Sterling transactions

Top Tips
Always repay in full To make the saving of no fees you need to pay of in full every month, either via direct debit or by keeping on track of it as if you don’t you will not make much gain if you are paying interest on your spend.
Beware - Foreign ATM’s charge Cash fees as well Regardless of the card you have certain ATM machines will charge there own fee and this can slowly add up, if you are going to do a cash withdrawal I would plan your spend in advance and withdraw the maximum from the ATM so you only get one charge for one large cash withdrawal instead of a lot of smaller ones over the space of a week.
Avoid- Debit cards can be the worst way to spend abroad Eight debit cards (everyday bank cards) are the worst cards. Not only do they add a load and an ATM fee, they also charge up to £1.50 EVERY time you spend on them. These card providers are- Bank of Scotland, Halifax, IF, Lloyds, Santander, TSB, NatWest/RBS. check out our charges and fees table to find out what you are getting charged.

prepaid travel card
The next option you have is a prepaid travel card or ordering currency to be delivered online, which can work out cheaper than getting physical currency at the airport or from a high street bank. But be careful, as some companies don’t let you use credit/debit cards so you are less protected.
Revolut
Weswap
FAIRFX

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ESTA USA Visa

Published in Travel Tips & Tricks

United States of America Visa Waiver Program

Visa Waiver Program (VMP) enables most citizens or nationals of the participating countries below to travel to the United States for tourism or business for stays of 90 days or less without having to obtain a visa. So if your wanting to travel under 90 days and are a national of the participating countries you must have a valid Electronic System for Travel Authorisation (ESTA) prior to travel.

United Kingdom** France Ireland
 Germany  Netherlands  Taiwan* 
Andorra Hungary Norway
Australia Iceland Portugal
Austria Monaco San Marino
Belgium Italy Singapore
Brunei Japan Slovakia
Chile Latvia Slovenia
Czech Republic Liechtenstein South Korea
Denmark Lithuania Spain
Estonia Luxembourg Sweden
Finland  Malta  Switzerland
Greece  New Zealand  

**To be eligible to travel under the VWP, British citizens must have the unrestricted right of permanent abode in England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, the Channel Islands, and the Isle of Man.

Apply online direct from US Department of Homeland Security at a fee of $14 if you are accepted and $4 if you are denied. https://esta.cbp.dhs.gov/esta

Waiver Program Improvement and Terrorist Travel Prevention Act of 2015
Under the Visa Waiver Program Improvement and Terrorist Travel Prevention Act of 2015, travellers in the following categories are no longer eligible to travel or be admitted to the United States under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP):
-Nationals of VWP countries who have traveled to or been present in Iran, Iraq, Sudan, or Syria on or after March 1, 2011 (with limited exceptions for travel for diplomatic or military purposes in the service of a VWP country)
-Nationals of VWP countries who are also nationals of Iran, Iraq, Sudan, or Syria.These individuals will still be able to apply for a visa using the regular appointment process at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate.
For those who require a U.S. visa for urgent business, medical, or humanitarian travel to the United States, U.S. Embassies and Consulates stand ready to handle applications on an expedited basis.

In addition, as of April 1, 2016, you must have an e-passport to use the VWP. An e-Passport is an enhanced secure passport with an embedded electronic chip. The chip can be scanned to match the identity of the traveler to the passport. You can readily identify an e-Passport, because it has a unique international symbol on the cover – see photo.


 

 

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USA Six Months Passport Validity Rule For Visitors

Published in Travel Tips & Tricks

USA Six Months Passport Validity Rule for Visitors

Visitors travelling to the United States are required to be in possession of passports that are valid for six months beyond the period of their intended stay in the United States. Citizens of the countries listed below are exempt the six-month rule and need only have a passport valid for their intended period of stay.
In any case, your passport must be valid for your entry into the U.S. If your passport expires during your stay in the U.S., you need to get it renewed or get a new one from the embassy or consulate of your country in the U.S. If you are on a short visit to the U.S. (such as on a tourist visa, business visa etc.), it would be best to get your passport renewed before arrival into the U.S., otherwise, you will be admitted into the U.S. until the expiration date of the passport.
Algeria
Andorra
Antigua and Barbuda
Argentina
Australia
Austria
The Bahamas
Bangladesh
Barbados
Belgium
Bermuda
Bolivia
Bosnia-Herzegovina
Botswana
Brazil
Bulgaria
Canada
Chile
Colombia
Costa Rica
Cote d'Ivoire
Croatia
Cuba
Cyprus
Czech Republic
Denmark
Dominica
Dominican Republic
Ecuador
Egypt
El Salvador
Eritrea
Estonia
Ethiopia
Fiji
Finland
France
Georgia
Germany
Greece
Grenada
Guatemala
Guinea
Guyana
Hong Kong (Certificates of Identity and Passports)
Hungary
Iceland
India
Ireland
Israel
Italy
Jamaica
Japan
Korea
Kuwait
Laos
Latvia
Lebanon
Liechtenstein
Luxembourg
Macau
Macedonia
Madagascar
Malaysia
Malta
Mauritius
Mexico
Monaco
Netherlands
New Zealand
Nicaragua (for all passports)
Nigeria
Norway
Oman
Pakistan
Panama
Paraguay
Peru
Philippines
Poland
Portugal
Qatar
Romania
Russia
San Marino
Senegal
Serbia and Montenegro
Singapore
Slovak Republic
Slovenia
South Africa
Spain
Sri Lanka
St. Kitts and Nevis
St. Lucia
St. Vincent and The Grenadines
Suriname
Sweden
Switzerland
Syria
Taiwan
Tanzania
Thailand
Togo
Trinidad and Tobago
Tunisia
Turkey
Tuvalu
United Arab Emirates
United Kingdom
Uruguay
Uzbekistan
Vatican (Holy See)
Venezuela
Zimbabwe

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How Long Should My Passport Be Valid For?

Published in Travel Tips & Tricks

How long should my Passport be valid for?
There is nothing more stressful than booking a holiday then realising your passport is expiring soon and you can’t travel to the country you have booked. Or you have to wait for a replacement passport extremely close to your departure date, in today’s culture most countries outside of the EU require up to 6 months on your passport. Only the US, Canada, Australia and the UK will let you in with Passports valid for the duration of your stay. Here is a more in-depth list below;

Australia – valid for duration of stay
Belgium – 3 months
Canada – valid for duration of stay
Dubai – 6 months
Fiji – 6 months
France – 3 months
Germany –3 months
Greece –3 months
Hong Kong – 1 month
India – 6 months (actually they say 180 days) and two blank pages in your passport.
Indonesia – 6 months
Ireland- Valid for the duration of your stay
Italy –3 months
Japan – valid for duration of stay
Malaysia – 6 months
Mexico – 6 months is recommended, although you may be able to have shorter if you can prove your length of stay is over before your passport expires.
Netherlands –3 months
New Zealand – 3 months
Oman – 6 months
Philippines – 6 months
Rarotonga (Cook Islands) – 6 months
Singapore – 6 months
Samoa – 6 months
South Africa – 1 month
Spain3 months
Tahiti – 3 months
Thailand – 6 months
UK – valid for length of stay
USA – 6 months longer than your intended stay Unless your country of origin is exempt from this requirement.
Countries- Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cyprus, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong (certificates of identity and passports), Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Switzerland, Thailand, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom. (See full list)
Vanuatu – 6 months
Vietnam – 6 months for visa exemption.

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Fees And Charges

Published in Travel Tips & Tricks

Fees and charges
Credit Card Fees

Provider

 

Spending

 

Withdraw Cash

Interest (APR) if paid off in full

The AA

2.99%

2.99% min. £3

27.9%

Amazon (2)

2.99%

5% min. £5

27.9%

American Express

2.99%

3% min. £3

27.9%

Asda

2.99%

3% min. £5

27.9% - 29.9%

Aqua Reward or Advance

NIL

3% min. £3

39.9% - 59.9%

Bank of Ireland

2.25%

2.5% min. £3

24.9%

Bank of Scotland

2.95%

3% min. £3

18.9% - 25.9%

Barclaycard (1)

2.99%

NIL

None (27.9% - 29.9% if not repaid in full)

Capital One

2.75%

3% min. £3

34.9%

Capital One Aspire Business / Classic Extra

NIL

3% min. £3

19.9% - 34.9%

Clydesdale/Yorkshire

2.95%

3% min. £3

27.9%

The Co-op Bank

2.75%

3% min. £3

25.9%

The Co-op Clear (2)

2.75%

NIL

12.9%

Creation Everyday

NIL

NIL

12.9% - 21.9%

Debenhams

2.75%

3% min. £3

29.9%

Egg (2)

2.95%

3% min. £5

21.9% - 23.9%

First Direct

2.99%

2.99% min. £3

24.7%

Halifax

2.95%

3% min. £3

18.9% - 25.9%

Halifax Clarity

NIL

NIL

18.9% - 25.9%

Halifax Student

2.95%

3% min. £3

19.9%

HSBC

2.99%

2.99% min. £3

23.9% - 24.7%

HSBC Premier

2.99%

2.99% min. £3

18.9%

Lloyds

2.95%

3% min. £3

18.9% - 25.9%

Lloyds Avios Rewards

NIL

3% min. £3

18.9% - 25.9%

Marks & Spencer Bank

2.99%

2.99% min. £3

23.9%

MBNA

2.99%

5%

27.9%

MBNA Everyday Plus

NIL

NIL

7.4% - 12.9%

Nationwide (2)

2%

2.5% min. £3

27.9%

Nationwide Select

NIL

2.5% min. £3

27.9%

NatWest

2.75%

3%

29.9%

Post Office (Matched)

2.99%

2.5% min. £3

27.9%

Post Office (Platinum)

NIL

2.5% min. £3

27.9%

RBS

2.75%

3%

27.9%

Saga

NIL

2% min. £2

None (19.6% if not repaid in full)

Sainsbury's

2.75%

3% min. £3

25.9% - 28.9%

Sainsbury's Gold (3)

NIL

NIL

None (24.9% if not repaid in full)

Santander

2.95%

3% min. £3

29.9%

Santander 123

NIL (4)

 

 

Santander Zero (3)

NIL

NIL

29.9%

Smile

2.75%

3% min. £3

25.9%

Tesco Bank

2.75%

3% min. £3

24.9% - 27.9%

TSB

2.95%

3% min. £3

18.9% - 25.9%

TSB Advance

2.95%

3% min. £3

11.9 %

TSB Avios

2.95%

3% min. £3

17.9% - 25.9%

TSB Premier Avios

2.95%

3% min. £3

13.9%

Virgin Money

2.99%

5% min. £5

27.9%

Virgin Atlantic

2.75%

2%

20.9%

Nationwide Select

NIL

2.5% min. £3

27.9%

NatWest

2.75%

3%

29.9%

Post Office (Matched)

2.99%

2.5% min. £3

27.9%

Post Office (Platinum)

NIL

2.5% min. £3

27.9%

RBS

2.75%

3%

27.9%

Saga

NIL

2% min. £2

None (19.6% if not repaid in full)

Sainsbury's

2.75%

3% min. £3

25.9% - 28.9%

Sainsbury's Gold (3)

NIL

NIL

None (24.9% if not repaid in full)

Santander

2.95%

3% min. £3

29.9%

Santander 123

NIL (4)

 

 

Santander Zero (3)

NIL

NIL

29.9%

Smile

2.75%

3% min. £3

25.9%

Tesco Bank

2.75%

3% min. £3

24.9% - 27.9%

TSB

2.95%

3% min. £3

18.9% - 25.9%

TSB Advance

2.95%

3% min. £3

11.9 %

TSB Avios

2.95%

3% min. £3

17.9% - 25.9%

TSB Premier Avios

2.95%

3% min. £3

13.9%

Virgin Money

2.99%

5% min. £5

27.9%

Virgin Atlantic

2.75%

2%

20.9%

 

UK debit card overseas charges

If you use your debit card overseas, there's usually a non-sterling transaction fee, which will apply to both purchases and ATM withdrawals. You'll also usually be charged a cash machine fee, but there'll be no interest charged as it's taking cash from your current account.

Provider

Non-sterling transaction fee

Cash withdrawal Fee (non-sterling fee will also be charged)

Barclays

2.99%

£1.50 (except Barclays or 'Global Alliance' ATMs)

Bank of Scotland

2.99% + £1 per purchase

1.5% min. £2 max £4.50

Clydesdale/Yorkshire

2.75% min £1.50

3.75% min £1.50

The Co-op Bank

2.75%

2% min. £2

Danske Bank

2.75% + £0.75 per purchase

£1.25 per withdrawal

First Direct 1st Directory

2.75%

NIL

First Direct 1st Direct

2.75%

2% min. £1.75 max £5

Halifax

2.75% + £1.50 per purchase

£1.50 per withdrawal

HSBC

2.75%

2% min. £1.75, max £5

HSBC Premier/Advance

2.75%

NIL

Lloyds

2.99% + £1 per purchase

1.5% min. £2 max £4.50

Lloyds Platinum/Premier

2.99%

1.5% min. £2 max £4.50

Marks & Spencer Bank

2.75%

NIL

Metrobank (Europe)

NIL

NIL

Metrobank (Worldwide)

1.9%

£1

Nationwide

2%

£1

Nationwide FlexPlus

2% on spending. 0% on cash withdrawals

NIL

NatWest

2.75% min. £1 for purchases

2% min. £2, max £5

Norwich & Peterborough Gold Classic (£5/mth fee if you don't pay in £500 or make 5+ transactions)

NIL

NIL

RBS

2.75% min. £1 for purchases

2% min. £2, max £5

Santander

2.75% + £1.25 per purchase

1.5% min. £1.99 (waived if using Santander cash machines in Spain)

Santander Zero

NIL

NIL

Smile

2.75%

2% min. £2

Tesco Bank

2.75%

1%

TSB

2.99% + £1 per purchase

1.5% min. £2 max £4.50

TSB Platinum/Premier

2.99%

1.5% min. £2 max £4.50

Ulster Bank

2.65% + £0.75 per purchase

2.25% min. £2 max £5

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