Three ways to save your pennies overseas

IF THE estimates of the Association of British Travel Agents (Abta) are to be believed, nearly 4m of us will be heading abroad over Christmas. But whether you’re escaping to sunnier climes or hitting the slopes, here are three tips to help you avoid parting with your cash.

For a long time, Nationwide was the champion of credit cards for overseas spending. But after it introduced its 1 per cent fee for ex-Europe purchases, it has slipped down the ranks. If you’re over 50, the Saga Platinum credit card is good. There are no foreign purchase fees and you are not charged interest on purchases and balance transfers for the first nine months.

For those with less life experience, the Post Office Platinum card is attractive. It has no fees and you don’t have to pay any commission on purchases made abroad.

Frequent flyers may want a specific currency card from the likes of Caxton FX, HiFX or FairFX

Detox might be the only thing on your mind post-Christmas, but if you’re leaving the EU don’t forget about duty-free.

You may bring in one litre of strong spirits or liqueurs (above 22 per cent volume) or two litres of fortified wine as well as 16 litres of beer and four litres of wine. For tobacco, the limit is 200 cigarettes, 100 cigarillos, 50 cigars or 250g of tobacco.

You are limited to other goods worth up to £390. If you bring in any single item worth more than this such as an iPad, you must pay duty and/or tax on its full value. Those lucky enough to be arriving by private plane or boat are limited to goods worth up to only £270.

There’s a reason why we call them CrackBerries. But if you’re heading overseas you might want to prise your thumbs away from that keypad. Inclusive minutes and texts no longer apply once you’re out of the UK, while data roaming will quickly add pounds to your bill so turn it off.
If your company isn’t going to be footing the bill, make sure you are free to roam and check the price per megabyte before you leave. You should also consider making a short phone call rather than sending lots of texts – it can often be cheaper to do this.

For travellers after a specific tariff, Mike Wilson, mobiles and broadband manager at, says one of the best deals is Vodafone Passport. This is free for all customers and allows you to make calls charged at the normal network rate. Customers can take advantage of up to sixty minutes call time for free in Europe and Australia, with a 75p connection charge.

And for those who really can’t bear to turn off their phone, there’s always the option of a pay-as-you-go local Sim card.