The real cost of summer holidays

Published:
03 August 2011
Topic:
News,Money,Travel,Credit Cards,Current Accounts,Travel Money

One in five parents expects the cost of family days out over the summer to push them into the red, according to our new research..

This is not that surprising given how many British households are struggling financially at the moment and how much it can cost to keep the kids entertained.

A family of four visiting Legoland, for example, could easily shell out £300 once entry, travel and food costs are taken into account.

But with more than three quarters of the cash-strapped parents who expect to take on debt this summer planning to use a credit card or overdraft to fund their activities, the interest they pay will also make a big difference to the overall cost of these fun times.

Fortunately, they can borrow for nothing if they play their cards right, which is why we have scoured the market for the best cards and current account overdrafts for short-term spending.

Kevin Mountford, head of banking at MoneySupermarket.com said: "With the school holidays upon us, many parents will be looking for ways to entertain their families - and unfortunately, keeping the kids busy can be an expensive business.

"For those planning to use their credit card to pay for activities, however, having the right plastic in their wallet could save them some serious cash this summer."

What are the best credit cards for this type of spending?

If you know that you will be spending more than you can afford to pay off immediately on a credit card this summer, then the key is to choose a card that offers interest-free spending for an introductory period.

The card at the top of the purchase credit cards best buy tables at the moment is the M&S Credit Card, which offers 15 long months of spending at 0%.

The card also has a reward scheme that gives you one M&S point - 100 of which get you £1 off your shopping bills - for every £1 spent in M&S stores and one point for every two points spent elsewhere.

Kevin said: "A product like the M&S Credit Card could be a good option for those shelling out for days out as they can manage their repayments without incurring interest."

You must ensure that you clear the debts - or switch them to a new 0% deal - within the 15- month introductory period, though.

Otherwise you will be hit with a representative APR of 15.9% (variable).

Other great options include the Tesco Clubcard credit card, which also offers 15 months at 0% (and nine months at 0% on balance transfers) as well as a generous reward scheme.

It has a slightly higher representative APR of 16.9% (variable) but has the advantage of offering Tesco Clubcard points, which can be turned into vouchers and redeemed at three times their face value at attractions, restaurants and other venues throughout the UK.

In other words, just £5 of Tesco Clubcard vouchers can be exchanged for £15 worth of days out vouchers - a great deal for anyone wondering how to fund their family fun this summer.

I would prefer to use an overdraft to cover the cost. Which are the best current accounts for this?

If an overdraft is your preferred way of borrowing, then the first point to make is that you must always contact your bank first to arrange going overdrawn.

Otherwise you will be punished with sky-high interest charges, not to mention penalty fees, even if your bank offers a great deal on arranged borrowing.

If, for example, you will struggle to pay in £1,000 a month, you could look at the Santander Everyday Current Account.

It charges 0% on arranged overdrafts for the first four months, after which the cost is 50p a day (capped at £10 a month).

There is no minimum funding level for this account, but you will not receive any interest when you are in credit.

For this, the best account on the market at the moment is the Santander Preferred Current Account, which charges 0% for the first 12 months.

Other benefits of the account include a market-leading credit interest rate of 5% (on up to £2,500) for when you are in the black and a £100 switching bonus for new customers, plus a £25 Amazon voucher if you open the account online via MoneySupermarket.com between August 8 and August 28.

It is, however, worth pointing out that you must pay in at least £1,000 to qualify for the account, while the credit interest rate falls to 1 per cent and arranged overdrafts are charged at 50p a day (capped at £5 a month) after the first 12 months.

Are there any other ways I can cut the cost of summer holiday activities?

Almost two in five parents plan to save money this summer by visiting free local attractions, while a further 14% of parents will use money saving vouchers to help entertain their children for less.

Simon James, Shopping and vouchers expert at MoneySupermarket.com, added: "Money saving vouchers are a brilliant way to make big savings this summer, so it's always worth getting online and checking for discounts before booking activities."

Other top tips include booking in advance and taking a picnic rather than eating in one of the on-site restaurants or cafes.

Buying a family railcard - at a cost of just £28 for the year - can also save you a third on most adult rail fares and 60% on child fares.

Read our article 'Top tips to minimise summer spending' for more money-saving advice.

Please note: Any rates or deals mentioned in this article were available at the time of writing. Click on a highlighted product and apply direct.

We're free, independent and compare all UK credit cards, as well as offering exclusive deals you can't get anywhere else.

Contact moneysupermarket.com at Moneysupermarket House, St David's Park, Ewloe, Flintshire, CH5 3UZ. © Moneysupermarket.com Ltd 2011.

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