Pack Your Money Bags

The weatherís taken a turn for the worse and if you havenít packed your bags for sunnier climes already this summer then the chances are youíll be off soon enough.

But be prepared to see your wallet take a pounding when you spend on holidays as there are a whole packet of hidden charges to look out for.

Providers such as the Post Office and Marks & Spencer are luring in custom with 0% commission deals for Euros but offering relatively feeble exchange rates.

But itís not just at the bureau de change that you face being fleeced. Current account and credit card providers take a very healthy slice from unwitting travellers using their cards abroad every year.

With the pound miserably weak youíll need your wits about you when heading abroad. MoneyExpert.com gives some top tips.

Do It In One

Whether itís withdrawing cash from an ATM or making a purchase using a credit or debit card, when youíre abroad it always pays to keep your number of transactions to a minimum.

Though we take withdrawing cash for granted when at home, doing so overseas will more often than not come at a cost, with providers generally charging around 2.5% or a minimum of £3 for the privilege. Customers making lots of small withdrawals will obviously be the hardest hit ñ for every £10 you take out you could be charged £3.

The same often applies for card purchases. You may well be charged a percentage when using a debit card but could be a charged a flat fee, typically around £1.25. The best option by far is to avoid using your card for small purchases.

The Best Cards Out There

Unfortunately there arenít a great number of providers out there bucking the trend and offering good deals on overseas spending. Even those that lead the way are falling back to the chasing pack.

Nationwide, with its FlexAccount has always been top dog offering a debit card that makes no cash withdrawal fee worldwide and no currency conversion charge in Europe.

On the down side you will have to pay 0.84% of the transaction amount when you use the card in most non-European countries.

The next best option is the Santander Zero Credit Card (previously the Abbey Zero Credit Card), that has no foreign exchange fee.

Other Options

If youíre desperate to avoid the charges and donít have the time or the means to set up an account with a provider who makes no charges then the best option remains getting hold of the local currency.

As mentioned above, though, youíll need to be switched on as to where to go as some providers, even those charging 0 per cent commission will be taking a hefty cut. Some of the best rates can now be found with online currency providers.

If youíre worried about carrying large sums of cash around with you then travellersí cheques are still available. These offer greater security but may have a commission charge as high as 2-3%.

A final possibility is a pre-paid card. These come with the security of knowing you can contact your provider if the card is stolen, and some even have 0 % foreign exchange fees. Whatís more you wonít be able to get into debt as with a credit card as any money you spend will be yours.

Click here to compare credit cards and current accounts.

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