With the summer nearly upon us, everyone’s thoughts are turning to holidays. But before you jet off, make sure you are financially prepared for your travels. From using a flight price predictor app to buying your currency in advance on a pre-paid credit card and how to insure against damage and delays without having to insure yourself to the hilt, here’s how to save cash to spend on your trip:
• Avoid dynamic pricing: searching repeatedly for the same flights and dates could work against you by making the price go up. By tracking your browsing history the travel company knows this is not the first time you are making this search, and prices the fares according to your demand – this is called dynamic pricing. Use an incognito internet browser window or clear your cache to start afresh.
It is cheaper to fly on a weekday, says Saj Ahmad, chief analyst for Strategic Aero Research, which can even mean fewer restrictions or additional costs in terms of food, baggage and seat selection. Travelzoo.com says the optimal time to book a flight is 56 days ahead of time, with possible savings of 28 per cent on the standard price. According to the holiday site, January is cheapest for city breaks and, in countries with a Saturday-Sunday weekend, arriving on a Sunday will get you the lowest hotel rate. Try the Hopper app, which predicts the future price of flights and tells you the best time to buy.
• Get creative with your flight choice: sometimes taking a layover can significantly reduce the cost of your flight, or the stopover can come for free. According to Cheapflights.co.uk, most airlines will allow travellers to spend 24 hours or more in a layover city at no additional cost – and the flights are often significantly cheaper than non-stop fares. Take a look at cleverlayover.com, which claims to offer the cheapest flights on a third of all routes. Flying with two different airlines, with two separate one-way tickets, can also be cheaper than booking a round trip – as can codeshare flights.
Currency and cards
• Choose the local currency when buying goods or services abroad: when you pay on a credit card and are asked if you want to pay in dirhams or the local currency – choose local to stick with your card payment network’s exchange rate rather than the overseas merchant’s profiteering one.
• Use a pre-paid foreign currency credit card to lock in the best exchange rate at the time of loading your card before you travel. Al Rostamani’s Cash Passport has six separate currency wallets – US, Canadian, Australian and Hong Kong dollars, euros and pounds sterling. TravelEZ, from Al Fardan Exchange, is available in dirhams and dollars, as is the RAKBank Travel pre-paid card.
• Do not draw out cash, even foreign currency, on a credit card as it is subject to extra cash fees – use a debit card.
Insurance and compensation
• Home contents insurance often covers personal belongings when travelling: that includes expensive items such as your mobile phone or wedding ring, says Tarek Bayaa, chief commercial officer of insurance comparison site Bayzat. Otherwise, choose medical emergencies cover or comprehensive travel insurance to also cover you for delays, cancellations or even a passport loss, he says. Make sure you buy travel cover when you book the trip, not just before you travel, for immediate protection for cancellations. Compare the cost of annual versus single-trip cover if you travel regularly.
• Claim compensation for EU flight delays. If the airline is based in the EU or the flight was taken with a non-EU based airline but flying from an EU airport, you are protected by the European Denied Boarding Regulation and entitled to claim compensation for flight delays of more than three hours or cancellations – except in extraordinary circumstances. That would mean any KLM or Air France flight, for instance, or an Emirates flight leaving from anywhere in the EU. Compensation is fixed: €250 (Dh1,008) for flights under 1,500 kilometres; €400 for longer flights within the EU or for other flights of 1,500 - 3,500km; €600 for all other flights (long haul).
• If your luggage is damaged, you can claim a repair or replacement from your airline, although you normally only have eight days to report it. If you don’t have a receipt for the luggage you will have to rely on the airline’s, or their baggage agency’s, estimate of the age and depreciated value of your luggage. Depreciation is generally set at 10 per cent per year.
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