The FairFX Publicity Blog
Tuesday, 14th May 2013
Families who want to holiday over the half term will be forced to fork out up to 50 per cent more than they would the week before the school holidays, says Holiday Extras’ travel expert Lindsay Garvey Jones.
A rise in demand will raise prices unless accompanied by increased supply, which explains why the price of some packages have soared during the half term. Families have no choice but to travel during the school holidays, so it’s important to make savings where they can.
Parents shouldn’t be discouraged by the half-term price hike, because the family holiday can be made more affordable. Here are some of my money-saving tips.
Discount codes and cashback sites. Find promotional codes on sites like Discount Vouchers and Voucher Codes, and earn cash back from participating retailers through websites like Quidco and TopCashBack.
Book airport parking in advance. Meet and Greet parking is the most stress-free service for families – and with savings of up to 60 per cent with Holiday Extras, it’s inexpensive too. A chauffeur will be waiting to whisk the car away at departures, and have it ready at arrivals for the return. Eight days’ Meet and Greet parking at Gatwick starts from £64.99.Spread the cost.
Many tour operators and travel agents offer the option to spread the cost of a holiday through monthly or a set number of payments. It will make paying for the holiday manageable.
Use an agent to search out the best deal for you. Agents on the high street and online can give you expert advice and thorough aftercare. They will search for the best deal to suit your budget and needs, and pass on any savings. They can add value to your experience, especially as they sometimes promote special 2 for 1 deals, seat sales or know the best way to save money.
Holiday insurance with free cover for kids. Under-18s go free on all of Holiday Extras’ award-winning travel insurance policies. A week’s European cover for a family of four starts from just £22.26.
All-inclusive could cost less. The upfront cost of an all-inclusive holiday can be off-putting, and a cheaper self-catering or half-board option often takes precedence. However, when the cost of food, drinks and treats for the kids are added up, an all-inclusive package can work out a whole lot less.
Don’t rely on last-minute money. Buying foreign currency at the airport is a sure-fire way to a bad exchange rate. Order travel money online or opt for a pre-paid currency card – like FairFX – which is safer and can offer some of the best exchange rates on the market.
Do destination research. Knowledge is power, and a little planning could save pounds. Booking tours and activities with a UK travel agent will often be more expensive, so arrange day trips with a local guide or tour operator. Be aware of the going rate and use this as a haggling tool.
Buy before you fly. Stock up on essentials like sun cream – they cost more overseas. A family of four can go through a bottle each during a week’s holiday, so take advantage of offers and 3-for-2 deals when you see them. And don’t forget to pop them in your case!
Choose a hotel with a kids’ club. Parents can save forking out on activities for the children – most kids’ clubs offer free all-day-long entertainment.
Thursday 16 May 2013, 08:48am
After searching through many money exchange sites, I chose FairFX for the simplicity and good rates. Having used them four or five times now, including Fairpay I can only express my experiences as first rate.
I have no hesitation in recommending FairFX to anyone for superb service.
Rob Hunt, FairPay user, Cumbria
Tuesday 14 May 2013, 04:47pm
I have used FairFX for the first time to buy travel currency. I was impressed with the rate of exchange offered and the prompt delivery. As a first time user I found that the web site was simple to use. I will use FairFX again and would recommend the company to my friends.
Howard Snelling, FairFX Travel Cash user, New Romney
Wednesday 08 May 2013, 09:03am
Friday, 3rd May 2013
Currency exchange rate fluctuations are one of the biggest bugbears for expats making payments across different currencies. Many expats fail to pick up a good exchange rate because they do not shop around and stick with the big banks.
Ian Strafford-Taylor, of money broking firm FairFX, says that another issue is that because of currency fluctuations, the expected regular payment becomes an unknown amount every month. One solution could be to use a currency broker offering a regular payments service which will carry no transaction fees and generally have a better rate of exchange than a bank offers. This service can be used for paying a mortgage, pay regular bills and even to send home rent income and have a salary and pension payments transferred cost-effectively.
Fixed exchange rate
In addition, someone using the service could fix their exchange rates for a full year ahead. The bigger currency brokers will also, unlike banks, allow their customers to set up direct debits. This method could, says currency brokerage HiFX, save a small fortune – and with some banks charging up to £30 per transaction there is a huge saving of several thousand euros a year to be made.
Mr Strafford-Taylor of FairFX said: “Setting up a direct debit at a fixed exchange rate could save money but in reality many of our customers choose have their currency broker contact them every month to confirm the amount and delivery details.”
Expats with mortgages will be moving money every month and up until 2007, when the financial crisis hit, there was a wider choice of banks willing to deal with expats. Unfortunately that’s not the case now and the same goes for an expat looking to buy a property with a mortgage.
While some lenders are looking for expat custom, they aren’t always a cheap option with some demanding a minimum £150,000 price or a minimum loan value of £100,000 with a 25% deposit too.
However, one firm based in France says seen a sea-change in recent years with expats choosing to find a French lender rather than one in the UK.
John Busby, a director at French Private Finance, has found expats increasingly looking to remortgage and previously they had avoided French lenders because of the costs and registration tax involved, which could add up to a costly 2.5% of a deal.
He said: “The numbers involved have become more interesting because the rates for mortgages are at historic lows and it makes sense to get a French mortgage.”
Friday 03 May 2013, 12:17pm
I am completely satisfied with the services provided by FairFX. I can’t offer any constructive criticism because your organisation is set up and runs perfectly.
When I’m in Spain I use it to transfer money from the UK and access it via cash machine in euros. When I'm in the UK I use the currency transfer service (FairPay) to keep my bank account topped up in Spain so my bills are paid; the service is very easy and efficient. When my purse containing my cards was stolen in Spain it was easy and quick to report my FairFX card stolen and to have a new one issued. I'm very impressed with FairFX.
Dawn Williams, FairFX Cardholder & FairPay user, Winchester
Friday 03 May 2013, 12:08pm
During a visit to France in 2008 we were shocked to discover that our UK bank charged us a substantial fee every time we used our debit card. Not only that, they also employed an exchange rate that favoured them, not us. I calculated that they earned £145.00 in fees alone in just two weeks.
We researched the web and came across FairFX. The registration process was seamless, topping up the card was straightforward and the Euro purchase rate highly competitive. The website is easy to use and emails are responded to rapidly and intelligently. We've introduced many friends to FairFX and would recommend them without hesitation.
Steven Peacock, FairFX Cardholder, Buckinghamshire
Wednesday 01 May 2013, 08:57am
I've had a FairFX Euro Card and a FairFX Dollar card ever since they were first launched, about four-years ago, following an advertisement I saw for these "Traveller's Cards" on the "This is Money" website. Up until then I had usually left purchasing travel money until the last minute and almost always in cash, which I felt uncomfortable having to carry with me.
I chose FairFX as it was the only card like this that I became aware of at the time and being able to track tourist exchange rates on the net and on the FairFX website enables me to buy my holiday currency ahead of time. I usually load up the card in the 8-10 weeks ahead of travel buying when I think the rate has peaked. I find it is much better than carrying cash.
Overall my experience of using the cards has been very good. I would very much recommend FairFX to anyone who is still rushing out to buy Euros or Dollars at the last minute. The FairFX rates are always very competitive, the customer service is excellent, and I find carrying a loaded card is much safer and more secure than carrying cash.
Anthony Ellis, FairFX Euro & Dollar Cardholder
Wednesday 01 May 2013, 08:42am
My wife and I have used the FairFX Euro cards for about three-years now. We aren't globetrotting travellers or business magnates, just a normal family going on normal European holidays.
The FairFX card is great for many reasons. It's a secure and reliable way to control our holiday currency. It's like a normal Mastercard Credit Card, but it's not credit, you load it up with cash from your bank account before you go, so you aren't getting into debt.
FairFX always offer very good exchange rates. Before I used FairFX my trips would usually involve a last minute dash to the post office, or worse, buying Euros and Travellers Cheques at the airport. Then I found out about the FairFX card on MoneysavingExpert.
There were a couple to choose from, but the FairFX card seemed to be the easiest to use. With my new service from FairFX I could simply top-up my FairFX card with Euros online or by text. Even better now with the new Android App I'll be able to do all the online actions on my Android Smartphone, which will be even more convenient for me.
I have recommended it to all my friends and family, and will continue to use it for all my European trips.
Nick McFerran & his son Ben, FairFX Cardholder, Cheshire
Friday 26 April 2013, 05:20pm
Tuesday, 23rd April 2013
Buying a home, whether back in the UK or in your new home country, is the biggest financial commitment many expats will make.
Whether you are buying outright with savings or with the help of mortgage finance, you are likely to have to move money from one currency to another.
If you've got a mortgage, you may be moving money every month from one currency to another. While you could use a bank to do this, there is likely to be a cost involved; not only will there be transaction fees but you may not get a great exchange rate. Currency brokers usually offer a service that allows regular payments to be made quickly with no transaction fees and a good exchange rate.
Ian Strafford-Taylor, chief executive of currency brokers FairFX, said: "One issue with regular payments abroad for mortgages, either outbound from the UK into a foreign currency or inbound from a foreign currency, is that the amounts are almost certainly going to vary from one month to the next, given that the exchange rates will move.
"To combat this, it is of course possible to set up a direct debit, although in practice most customers choose not to go down this route. Many customers prefer to have their currency broker contact them each month to reconfirm the payment amount and delivery details; a service which all brokers are happy to offer."
Regular payments can also be used to meet home maintenance costs and to repatriate rental income, as well as non-property related expenses such as pension and salary transfers.
Unlike banks, larger currency brokers will also allow customers to automate their payments by direct debits and fix their exchange rates for up to 12 months ahead if they wish. This means customers know exactly how much is transferred every month. According to currency broker HiFX, customers can save up to £300 on transfer fees alone by using direct debit, as the banks charge transfer fees of up to £30 on every transaction. They also save on bank commission and receiving fees from overseas banks.
Mark Bodega of HiFX said: "Depending on the amounts a client is sending they could save thousands of euros a year on bank charges alone."
Getting a mortgage for an overseas property may be a harder matter than sending money to pay for it, however.
Tim Harvey, managing director of Offshoreonline.org, said: "Prior to 2007, expatriates had a wide range of choice – brands such as Lloyds International, Bank of Scotland International, BM Solutions, Halifax, Cheltenham & Gloucester and even some regional building societies would all look at expat business favourably.
"The Halifax Bank of Scotland collapse and their subsequent takeover by Lloyds has been a disaster for expats, with at least five lenders being forced out of the market after they were all taken over by Lloyds, who then stopped new lending activity in the market in 2012."
While there are still lenders active in the expat business, they can make heavy demands – a minimum purchase price of £150,000, a minimum loan of £100,000 and a deposit of at least 25 per cent are common requirements.
John Busby, director of French Private Finance, said there has been a recent rise in the number of expats with homes in France choosing to remortgage. What's unusual, said Mr Busby, is that it is not usually worth going to the bother of remortgaging in France due to the costs of bank fees and mortgage registration tax, which usually amount to 2.5 per cent of the amount being refinanced. The French tendency to offer good long-term fixed and tracker mortgage deals also means there has been little point in the past in remortgaging. However, he said, the situation has changed.
"Now that French mortgage rates are at an all-time low, the numbers have become more interesting," he said.
"If you have a mortgage with more than £100,000 outstanding and can find a long-term mortgage offering a rate a percentage point lower than your current rate, it does make sense."
He said that expats who want to remortgage in France will usually need to have at least 30 per cent equity in their home, but once the costs have been taken into account it should be possible to save around €10,000 for every €100,000 refinanced over 20 years.
Wednesday 24 April 2013, 08:32am
I chose the FairFX card because it was recommended to me by a friend who goes to Europe a lot. My friend believed the card to be the best option of all those he had investigated for both paying for products and services and accessing cash in Europe. I have not been disappointed - the rates are excellent and I have had no problems using it, the back up and support are superb - customer focused and genuinely helpful beyond my expectations. A complete opposite to the faceless dogma of the big corporate organisations. I wouldn't have any hesitation in recommending the card to anyone.
Mr R. Yardley
Tuesday 23 April 2013, 04:34pm
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