Get Cheaper Holidays

Penguin compare holidaysIt may not be top of your list, but by booking your airport parking in advance you can save yourself a fortune over a two-week break, and it is a key way of getting cheaper holidays.

Again, searching online is the best way to get a good deal, and using the comparison tool on the right, provided by GoSimply, will offer you a pick of parking in and around the airport that you are going to.

You can get a variety of options, off-airport parking, on-airport parking, and meet and greet – essentially valet parking, where you can essentially have your car driven from the airport to the car park for you, and have it brought back when you return. You must ensure you are happy with the level of security in the car park that you choose, as your car will be there for some time.

Of course, when you get there, always write down exactly which zone of the car park your car is in, and the row number. It is amazing what two weeks of sun, sand and sangria can do to your memory.

Penguin compare holidaysIf you want to start your holiday in style, you can do a lot worse than book yourself into an airport lounge via our search service provided by GoSimply.

Thanks to the price of airport food and drink, you may find it cheaper to spend time in luxury surroundings than you do buying food and drink through the normal airport outlets. Many airport lounges offer free food and drink as part of the deal – check before you book though to be sure, as what is available can vary quite dramatically.

If you have a bank account that you pay for, you may find you already have access to airport lounges as part of the benefits that are included in the account, and there is no point in paying for something twice. So check this before you buy a separate deal.

But if you do not already have access to an airport lounge from elsewhere, then check out how much you could save yourself by getting a quote from our price checker on the right.

Penguin compare holidaysBooking a flight at the crack of dawn or before can be a great way of getting a cheaper deal, but it also means you may be starting your holiday feeling tired and washed out simply because of the lack of sleep.

Spending the night at the airport before you go will mean adding a bit of cost to your break, but the benefits if you can get a good deal should far outweigh the extra cost, especially if you have a a long drive to your nearest airport.

Check the cost of airport hotels to find the best deal you can – we have a comparison tool on the right that can help you, but you may also want to check elsewhere on sites such as and Expedia to see if you can get a better price for a night’s stay.

Penguin compare holidaysThere are so many websites now that offer hotel deals it can be difficult to keep up, but it is worth checking a few to see whether you can get a better deal than is available on the first one you look at.

A number of sites, such as Trivago, TripAdvisor and HotelsCombined compare a number of sites all in one go, and you can save some time looking at these. That said, if there is a deal that looks particularly cheap on one of these, then always check the site it appears on independently to see if you can get it any cheaper.

Once you find your chosen hotel, you may want to go the extra mile and give them a call to see if you can get a deal with them directly that is even cheaper – they pay the sites for inclusion and that can mean at times they will offer a better deal directly. But this is certainly not always the case, and often the sites have better deals as a result of block bookings.

Penguin compare holidaysGetting to your destination can be as expensive as the week or two you will spend there, depending on how you travel.

Budget airlines such as Easyjet and Ryanair have opened up travel to Europe at rates that would not have been conceivable 15 years ago, and the other carriers such as BA also now offer lower fares as a result of the competition.

To be sure you are getting the cheapest flights possible, check for flight deals on sites such as Cheapflights and SkyScanner – you never know, you may find yourself flying with the likes of Lufthansa or Air Berlin to get a great deal.

Penguin compare holidaysGetting the best deal on foreign currency is not easy, and going to your bank is not usually the best idea. But you will get even less for your money – around 10% less in fact – if you change your currency at the airport. That means if you were changing £500 for your trip away, you would lose £50 just because you did not buy the currency in advance.

Buying your currency online will often give you the best exchange rate, and you need to give yourself enough time for the currency to reach your home. This usually takes no more than a couple of days, but you will be getting significantly more for your money this way.

Don’t be fooled by ‘commission free’ deals

Just because you do not pay commission on currency exchange, it does not mean you are getting the best deal. More often than not, these deals offer a worse exchange rate which more than wipes out any benefit from not paying commission.

Commission charges usually range from around £1.25 to £3. Minimum charges make changing small amounts of currency very expensive, and if you pay a flat-fee, that can make it more efficient to change a larger amount of currency. This fee will not change no matter how much you want to exchange.

If you will want to change the money back when you get home, than you need to think about the ‘buy-back’ rate. It can be a better option just to hold the money in the currency – especially if it is euros – ready for you next trip within Europe.

Be wary of taking too much cash abroad with you though, as if you get mugged, for example, that money is gone.

Using a credit card abroad

If you want to use a credit card abroad, you need one that has low, or no, charges to do so. The terms will change over time, so you need to be sure you are not going to be charged for using your card when you buy something overseas. Getting one specifically for this job is not a bad idea.

You should look for a 0% purchases credit card, and low or no loading fees for using the card abroad – these can reach nearly 3 per cent in some cases.

You can have cash withdrawal fees on both debit and credit cards if you are using them abroad, which are often around 2 per cent. Sometimes though there is a set fee, so if that is the case, then use your card to make fewer withdrawals of a higher value.

Mixing cash and credit or debit cards will usually be the best way to get the most out of your money overseas.

Dynamic currency conversion

This is a grand way of describing the choice you are often given when you are on holiday of whether you are billed in the local currency, or billed in sterling.

If you are offered the chance to be billed in sterling, you will usually have a worse exchange rate if you choose this option. This is because the shop or restaurant that you are paying can apply its own conversion rate, which is likely to be much worse than you bank’s as the bank will need to be more competitive. So if you have the option, ask to be billed in the local currency before you sign or enter your PIN.

Penguin compare prepaid cardsWhile prepaid cards are sometimes even called prepaid credit cards, look exactly like a credit card and are used in exactly the same way, there are a few differences – the main one being that you are not getting any credit on the card at all. Instead, you load a prepaid card with money that you can then spend when you are overseas, and when you have spent all of that money, you load up some more. You can see some of the cards available in our comparison table below.

This means that anyone can get a prepaid card, you do not need to have a good credit rating, and applying for one does not involve any company running a credit check on you. It is also great for budgeting, because you cannot spend more than is on the card, so it is impossible to go into debt using this card.

The other main difference to a credit card is a drawback, and is that you are not covered by the Section 75 protection when you make purchases. So if you buy goods overseas that do not arrive at your home, you cannot chase the card provider for the money you have lost.

Using a prepaid card when you are abroad means you do not have to carry around a large amount of foreign currency for your holiday, and traveller’s cheques are now largely a thing of the past. But you should be aware of how you use the card – it is not a good idea, for instance, to use your prepaid card as security for your hotel because as soon as you do this, you will not be able to spend a significant amount of the money that has already been loaded on the card.

Using credit cards or debit cards overseas can incur charges of around 2.75%, and if you take money out of an ATM on your credit card, you will be charged interest from the moment you take the money out. Some prepaid cards help you avoid these fees altogether, and for those that do not, you will usually face lower fees than you would on a credit card or debit card transaction.

There are a number of features of different prepaid cards that you need to look out for. Some will charge you a fee to get the card in the first place, others will charge a monthly fee, while some will charge you to load the card with more money. Some will do all three, so you should compare prepaid cards to get the one that suits you the best.

Also, if you do not use your card for 12 months or more, some will charge you an ‘inactivity’ fee, so check the terms of the cards you are considering by taking the time to compare prepaid cards.

Traveller’s cheques – a safer alternative?

Traveller’s cheques are an incredibly antiquated, and very expensive way of taking and spending money abroad, so avoid using them if you can. The best deals on overseas credit cards or prepaid cards will offer you much more for your money.

You are looking at commission charges of as much as 2-3 per cent when you cash the cheque in, and while they are replaceable if they are lost or stolen, you must sign each one as soon as you receive them. Some providers may offer free commission, especially for students.

While they are becoming outdated, you can use traveller’s cheques as a means of ‘mixing and matching’ the way you take currency abroad, but check your options carefully. Credit cards that are designed to be used overseas, prepaid cards and even getting cash in advance to take with you will all generally be cheaper. In remote areas, remember you may also have problems cashing them in.