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Friday, 18th April 2014

New research shows that high-street bank customers are paying a high price when it comes to sending foreign payments overseas. The numbers highlight that to get the best deal for your money it is important to shop around, as even a small percentage difference in the exchange rate can result in considerable savings.

If we want to send some money abroad most of us will automatically arrange the transaction via our own bank, but in most cases this can prove a costly mistake.

Unfortunately many people are unaware of the cheaper alternatives available and are confused by the combination of uncompetitive exchange rates and transaction fees levied by the banks.

Even though some providers claim to offer a fee-free service the wide variation in the exchange rates used in foreign currency transactions often represent the major hidden cost to retail customers.

As well as looking at the exchange rate, for the man on the street, the situation is further complicated as many of the banks charge an additional fixed fee on top.

The research carried out on 19 February highlights how much worse off a customer could be if they instructed their own bank to send a payment overseas.

The difference between the cheapest and most expensive option to send $1,500 to the United States is far more than most people realise.

The lowest cost was £910.14, courtesy of FairFX, closely followed by Caxton FX at £913.80. At the other end of the scale, the same transaction with Santander came to £950.37, and the most expensive, Barclays, charged £954.83, almost £45 more than the FairFX deal.

As a one-off transaction these sums may not sound that much; however, when you consider that some people with property overseas or children studying and travelling abroad are transferring funds every month to cover costs, the annual savings could be about £500 in some cases.

It has been reported that up to 90 per cent of transactions are still conducted through the banks, so there is a huge amount of money to be saved if only consumers took advantage of deals from some of the online brokers such as FairFX, Caxton FX and HiFX.

Does your insurance cover you for DIY disasters?
More than seven million people in the UK will tackle DIY jobs at home this weekend, according to research from the insurer PolicyExpert.

Although half of us will use a professional tradesman, many will use online resources to learn DIY skills – 13 per cent will turn to YouTube tutorials.

The average cost of adding "accidental damage cover" to a typical home insurance premium is only £25, yet almost half of people in the UK don't even know if they're insured.

If you're planning a DIY job, check your insurance policy before you start – at least you'll know who will pick up the tab if things don't go to plan.

Tuesday 22 April 2014, 09:47am

Tags: , dollar exchange rates, dollar rates, Dollars, Independant, international money transfer, international transfer, Money Transfer, press, press mentions, transfer money to US

Sunday, 20th April 2014

MILLIONS of families going abroad this summer will pay punishing charges on their plastic, but there are ways to avoid being stung.

According to research by the comparison site totallymoney.com, 1.6m consumers will put their entire holiday spending on credit card, paying more than £192m in fees as a result.

Families can cut the cost of spending abroad by using credit cards that promise to levy no fees, or opting for a prepaid card.

John Cottrill of the consumer group Which? said: “Many people prefer to pay with plastic while on holiday, but many cards apply hefty or hidden fees to payments and withdrawals, which can mount up.

“Travellers should shop around and find a credit card that won’t charge them for making purchases overseas.”

How to use plastic abroad
Nearly two-thirds of travellers expected to pay for transactions using their debit or credit cards, the survey found.

Credit cards generally have lower charges for transactions, for example paying for bills in shops and restaurants. They incur a 2.67% average purchase charge, compared with 3.1% on a debit card. Debit cards have lower charges for withdrawing cash, averaging 3.27%, compared with 5.96% for credit cards.

Fee-free credit cards
Sometimes it does pay to use a credit card for your transactions overseas, but you must pick the right one to avoid being charged.

For example, the Halifax Clarity card, the Post Office Platinum credit card and the Capital One Extra will not charge for overseas purchases.

Nationwide’s credit card will let you spend abroad fee-free, depending on how much you spend in the UK — for every £5 you spend here, it will give you the equivalent of £1 to spend abroad without charge.

The benefit of using your credit card is that any purchases you make over £100 will be covered by the Consumer Credit Act, if they turn out to be faulty or damaged.

Andrew Hagger of Moneycomms said: “Your plastic may offer a secure and convenient way to pay when you’re away from the UK, but the fees and charges can vary widely, so it’s worth getting to grips with these before you head off. Debit cards do not cost anything to use while in the UK, but it is not the same overseas.

“This is something that holidaymakers sometimes overlook until the charges are debited from their accounts — and then it is too late.

“The card charges that catch out most people are those levied for debit card purchases, which are subject to a usage fee, plus up to an additional £1.50 per transaction, regardless of the amount.”

Using debit cards
Halifax, Lloyds Bank and Santander have the highest fees for using debit cards abroad, at £1.50, £1 plus 2.99% and £1.25 per transaction respectively.

Norwich & Peterborough building society has a fee-free debit card for use abroad and Metro Bank’s debit card is free for purchases in Europe.

Hagger also warns travellers against choosing to pay in sterling when making a card payment abroad. “There is an increasingly common custom of foreign retailers or ATMs giving you the option to pay in pounds, known as dynamic currency conversion [DCC],” he said.

“Although you may think it’s useful to know exactly how much you’ll be debited by opting for pounds, it gives the retailer the opportunity to use a rip-off exchange rate, which could see you paying well over the odds, in some cases by 3% to 4%.”

Prepaid cards
The best way to avoid unnecessary charges is either to buy currency at a competitive rate beforehand, usually with a 2.15% average extra fee, or use prepaid cards, such as a FairFX Euro Card Mastercard, which incurs a 1.5%-1.9% cost.

Prepaid cards are chip-and-Pin secure, and accepted wherever you see the Mastercard symbol. Hagger said:

“The prepaid cards from FairFX offer a good deal. The rate is locked in when you load the currency [for euros or dollars] on the card. There is no extra fee for any transactions and just €1.50 [£1.23] or $2 for an ATM withdrawal.”

Where to buy currency
The highest charges apply to currency purchased in the airport — fees for which average 12.3%, according to totallymoney.com.

Consumers should always try to buy holiday currency in advance and avoid a last minute rush in the airport.

For example, the Travelex bureau de change at Heathrow’s Terminal 4 last week was offering a rate of €1.09 to the pound. This mean that €1,000 would cost about £917 to buy. Online, however, Travelex was offering €1.19 or £840 for €1,000 — a saving of £77.

You can order Travelex currency online as late as four hours in advance to collect in branches. Pack some proper travel cover.

As well as planning their payment methods before going abroad, holidaymakers should also check travel cover.

The financial ombudsman receives about 45 complaints a week from people who have had trouble with their policies. In more than half the cases, it finds that the insurer has done something wrong. The main issues involve problems with payouts following flight cancellations, delays and holidays being cut short.

Tuesday 22 April 2014, 09:37am

Tags: press, press mentions

The Easter and May bank holiday weekends could see thousands of Scots booking last-minute holidays, if they haven't already planned a trip abroad or "staycation".

...

...don't be stung by high exchange rates at the airport or charges on your credit card as both can really eat into your holiday budget. Pre-ordering your foreign currency at a site such as ICE or FairFX, rather than exchanging your money at the airport, could save you £82.41 on €1,000.

Bob Atkinson at Moneysupermarket.com said: "Most credit cards will start to charge you interest the moment you make a withdrawal from an ATM, which could mean a hefty bill on your return, in addition to currency loading and cash withdrawal fees."

Debit cards also typically charge a usage fee of up to 3% for cash withdrawals overseas plus an ATM fee (£1.50 to £5) plus a transaction fee of £1.50 - whatever the purchase.

A cheaper option may be a prepaid currency card in euros or dollars from the likes of FairFX, Caxton FX or WeSwap. They are loaded from your debit card and lock in a known exchange rate at the time of purchase.

Read the full article here

Monday 14 April 2014, 11:46am

Tags: prepaid card, press mentions

High street banks charge high prices for international money transfers, yet execute 90 per cent of transactions. Your Money looks at the alternatives on the market.

You can hop on a flight to Spain tomorrow for less than £100, but getting your money to a bank account there - to pay the mortgage on your holiday home, for example, or finance your child's education - can be a pricey pursuit.

Research by Andrew Hagger of Moneycomms shows high street bank customers are paying far more - up to £53 on transactions of £1,100 - than they need to for international transfers.

Hagger explains: "Consumers simply don't appreciate that there are cheaper alternatives available. They're also confused by the combination of uncompetitive exchange rates and transaction fees levied by the banks."

A quick look at the websites of the major banks reveals the average standard fee for transferring money abroad is £25 a pop.

...

According to research by Moneycomms, getting €1,200 to an account in Spain on 18 February 2014 cost £999.25 through online specialist FairFX. Going through HSBC increased the cost to £1,020.02, while through Santander the transaction hit £1,039.74. While the differences may seem small, anyone with property overseas, family in other countries or jobs abroad could be paying these additional costs every month.

Read the full article here

Thursday 10 April 2014, 10:02am

Tags: money tips, pound, press mentions

Growing your business will inevitably mean also growing your staff numbers.

And if you've made the choice to expand abroad, you'll soon have employees travelling the globe on your behalf, which means managing their travel costs and expenses could become a full time job.

The card market offers numerous possibilities to equip your staff with a payment method, but finding the most cost effective and efficient way of managing payments needn't be daunting.

Read the full article here

Wednesday 09 April 2014, 12:34pm

Tags: best rates, business expenses, business expenses platform, press mentions, Travel Money Cards

Sun cream, swimming costume, passport... Another thing you should never jet off on an Easter break without is travel insurance.

And to avoid your dream holiday turning into a nightmare, it is also vital to ensure that the policy you choose offers the level of cover you and your family need.

It can be tempting to save a few pounds by opting for the lowest-priced travel insurance you can find. But analysis from MoneySuperMarket reveals that Easter holidaymakers who take out the cheapest policy could be leaving themselves and their families open to overseas disaster.

...

Currency exchange

He added: "It's also worth investigating currency exchange options to allow you to get the best deal on your holiday money.

"Our research shows that you could, for example, pay just £838.57 for €1,000 by pre-ordering currency online through FairFX - that's £82.41 less than it would cost you to buy the same amount of euros at the last minute.

Read the full article here

Wednesday 09 April 2014, 08:58am

Tags: money articles, press mentions, travel cash

STERLING has been steadily gaining strength over the last few weeks, which is positive news for those planning a break abroad this Easter, as they should find they get good value for their pounds.

Since April 2013, the pound has risen 3 per cent against the euro, making the Continent a great option for your spring break, especially when you factor in the cost benefit of short-haul flights.

In fact, new findings from M&S Bank show that the “most affordable” holiday destinations this Easter are all in Europe, and include Mallorca, Malta, Cyprus, Tenerife and Crete.

According to the research, Mallorca is the most affordable island destination, with a week’s holiday costing just £253 per person.

...

Play Your Cards Right

If you are planning on using your cards overseas, you need to proceed with care.

“Your plastic may offer a secure and convenient way to pay when you are away from the UK, but the fees and charges can vary widely,” warns Hagger. “It is worth getting to grips with these before you head off.”

Most banks will add on a foreign usage fee to all credit card cash and purchase transactions, and this can range from 2.75 per cent to 2.99 per cent. The good news is, there are better alternatives.

...

Another option is a prepaid currency card in euros or dollars from the likes of FairFX, Caxton FX or WeSwap.

“These cards are chip-and-pin secure and accepted wherever you see the MasterCard symbol,” says Hagger. “They often offer a cheaper way to pay than many high street debit and credit cards.”

These currency cards can be loaded from your debit card, and the exchange rate is locked in at the time that the cash is transferred. This means you will know exactly what you will be paying for all your holiday transactions.

Read the full article here

Monday 07 April 2014, 10:32am

Tags: holiday costs, holiday currency, holiday money, prepaid card, press mentions

Backpackers faced £250 worth of extra costs after the bank scrapped its free international spending and cash withdrawals.

A young couple on a backpacking trip around the world were stung with more than £250 in additional costs after Metro Bank introduced international charges for overseas spending. Lance Taylor and Charlotte McCormick left for their seven-month trip in December. They had both moved their money to Metro Bank because it offered fee-free cash withdrawals and spending abroad on debit and credit cards. They each opened a current and savings account and Miss McCormick took out a credit card. But on March 18, Metro Bank introduced a 1.9pc charge for international purchases made outside of the eurozone plus a £1 “non-sterling cash fee” for withdrawals. The couple, who were in Australia at the time, said they received an email telling them of the changes just days before they were due to take effect.

The best cards for spending abroad.

A handful of cards give you low-cost access to your money abroad.

...a prepaid card that you load up before you travel then use as a debit card abroad. The exchange rate is set on the day you load it up, so there are no surprises. FairFX has a prepaid card that comes in euros, US dollars or sterling. If you spend in the chosen currency there are no transaction fees, but if you use it for other currencies a 1.4pc fee applies. Cash withdrawals cost €1.50 or US$2.

Read the full article here

Thursday 03 April 2014, 08:31am

Tags: holiday charges, holiday costs, holiday spending, press mentions, travel money

New research from Moneycomms reveals that high street bank customers are paying a heavy price when it comes to sending foreign payments overseas.

Simply by using the services of a specialist online FX provider, consumers could save more than £53 on an £1100 transaction.

...

“Consumers simply don’t appreciate that there are cheaper alternatives available and are confused by the combination of uncompetitive exchange rates and transaction fees levied by the banks.”

“Even though some providers claim to offer a fee free service the wide variation in bid-offer spreads charged in FX transactions often represent the major hidden cost to retail customers.”

Ian Strafford-Taylor (CEO) of FairFX said: “the bewildering array of tariffs for transferring money overseas makes life difficult for the man on the street, the situation is further complicated as many of the banks charge fixed fees as well as a bigger margin on the rate of exchange”.

...

Read the full article here

Tuesday 01 April 2014, 02:57pm

Tags: money tips, Money Transfer, press mentions

New research from Andrew Hagger of Moneycomms reveals that high street bank customers are paying a heavy price when it comes to sending foreign payments overseas.

Simply by using the services of a specialist online FX provider, consumers could save more than £53 on an £1100 transaction.

While some banks may appear to offer a reasonable deal on mainstream currencies such as the Euro and US Dollar, when it comes to lesser used currencies such as the Czech Koruna, Polish Zloty and Swiss Franc the costs are far less competitive.

The added transaction fees across all currencies make the banks even more uncompetitive.

Hagger said: “Consumers simply don’t appreciate that there are cheaper alternatives available and are confused by the combination of uncompetitive exchange rates and transaction fees levied by the banks.”

...

Ian Strafford-Taylor (CEO) of FairFX said: “the bewildering array of tariffs for transferring money overseas makes life difficult for the man on the street, the situation is further complicated as many of the banks charge fixed fees as well as a bigger margin on the rate of exchange”.

Read the full article here

Friday 28 March 2014, 09:49am

Tags: money, money tips, press mentions, transfer money, transfer money from the uk

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