If you travel abroad and want to make the most of you holiday make sure you have a Nationwide FlexAccount.
If you don’t already have one, OPEN ONE!
It only takes a £1
Why? I hear you ask.
Well it is the most cost efficient method of obtaining foreign currency abroad.
It is also the cheapest method of paying for goods and services where a debit card
can be used.
The reason it that the Nationwide does not levy any additional fees or charges for using the card abroad.
They treat it exactly the same as using it within the UK.
I have used my card several times when on holiday in foreign lands and to date the
EXCHANGE RATE has ALWAYS been BETTER THAN when using ANY OTHER METHOD,
for the cash received or goods and services purchased.
This applies to credit cards, traveller’s cheques and using bureau de change offices to exchange sterling.
I was sceptical at first and only withdrew small amounts on a couple of occasions during the holiday.
The ATM’s always had a button that allowed the transaction to be completed in English, which gave some comfort.
This was always on the same day that I would use my Visa
for another purchase.
I would usually exchange some sterling, also on the same day, recording the exchange rate if not provided with a detailed receipt. After returning home I’d have a quick check of my receipts, credit card
and FlexAccount statements.
I have had almost a 10% difference in the actual sterling cost of obtaining or spending the same amount of foreign currency. The smaller the value the worse it can be.
The FlexAccount always came out top.
I tried this on 3 holidays to different destinations before I came to rely on this method.
Places tried include France, Spain, Bahrain, Lanzarote and Tenerife.
I have yet to be charged a handling fee by the foreign bank whose ATM I used to make the withdrawal, although I understand that this is possible.
All the more reason to get the best deal to start with since this would apply irrespective of which English bank your account was held at.
The only places I have been to since and not used my ATM card to obtain cash are Turkey and Sri Lanka.
The Sri Lanka visits were all to an all-inclusive hotel complex that we only left once in 3 holidays.
Turkey is a bit different. (But does have plenty of ATMs)
Anyone who has been to Turkey a few times will know what I mean.
You can become a “millionaire” by only exchanging £1.
The exchange rate can fluctuate by a significant amount on a daily basis because of their inflation problem.
Most businesses do not want to hold the Turkish currency overnight let alone longer periods, preferring sterling, Dollar or Deutschmark. In fact property, cars
are usually bought and sold in these currencies.
Because of this you can change money “just about anywhere” with “just about anyone”.
Look out for the signs, try a favourite bar or restaurant, even try the hotel reception or staff.
Check what the rate is at the official exchanges and then just make sure you get a better rate.
This is not usually a problem and you’ll get a cup of apple tea
or cold drink
thrown in for free.
Might even have an English newspaper to read if you don’t want to watch the world go by.
But I digress.
THE REASON WHY NATIONWIDE IS BEST.
Until the weekend I only knew that they didn’t levy certain charges that other card issuers did.
The Nationwide “didn’t think that they should charge you to gain access to your own money.”
Well here are the details.
There tends to be 2 fees.
The first is a “published” “handling fee” of around 2.25%, usually subject to a maximum of £4 or £5.
My experience is that this has a minimum value of £1 to £2
The second is a “hidden” “exchange rate loading fee” and can be between 2.25% and 2.75%.
Using these figures:
This means a transaction with a value of £200 at an ATM ABROAD on your FlexAccount costs £200.
The same transaction at an ATM ABROAD using one of these other banks
card and account would cost at least £210.
AND IT COULD BE MORE
They can be higher and if they are for your account then you are really being RIPPED OFF!
Travellers cheques have inherent additional costs, usually when both buying and cashing.
Even commission free exchanges tend to “adjust” the exchange rate so that they make money from the transaction.
Transactions of the ATM kind, are not based on the “tourist” rates that you or I can expect when exchanging small amounts of only a few tens or even a few hundred pounds.
They ARE based on “wholesale exchange rates” involving millions if not billions of pounds.
THESE RATES ARE MUCH MORE FAVOURABLE!
SO IT MAKES SENSE TO USE THEM
BUT ONLY IF YOUR BANK DOESN’T TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THE FACT!
SO BEFORE LEAVING HOME!
This bit applies even to non-Nationwide FlexAccount users taking similar cards.
Check that your holiday destination has ATM’s, most countries do but if you’re in the back of beyond.
Travel agents should be able to advise.
I understand that www.visa.com and www.mastercard.com has a worldwide list of cash machine
You will need the Visa site if the card is a DELTA or PLUS type.
For MAESTRO or CIRRUS types, they are associated with MasterCard
The FlexAccount card I have has a CIRRUS logo on the back.
The FlexAccount is not somewhere I keep anything other than a token amount of money.
Better interest rates mean that my savings are elsewhere, but I LOAD IT WITH CASH before leaving.
Make sure the FlexAccount has more money in it than you are going to spend on holiday.
Remember this is NOT A CREDIT CARD ACCOUNT.
You are taking cash out of or spending money from, your own account.
If it’s not there you cannot get it, unless perhaps though an overdraft facility, but if you’re charged for this then you’re defeating the whole point.
Check that the ATM card works.
Make sure the PIN number is ETCHED ON YOUR BRAIN.
Check that it WILL NOT EXPIRE whilst you are away.
If possible, and like me your travelling with your partner, have 2 accounts and 2 ATM cards, 1
Split the money between accounts and keep the cards separate.
Allows loss, theft and being “eaten” by a machine. The latter has never happened to me.
If you have credit cards always take these anyway, you never know what emergency might just happen.
WHEN YOU ARRIVE IN YOUR CHOSEN DESTINATION.
SIT BACK AND ENJOY UPTO AN EXTRA 10%