Ten ways to beat a rip-off summer

Published:
03 June 2010
Topic:
News,Insurance,Mobile Phones,Money,Shopping,Travel,Credit Cards

Summer can be expensive enough, without falling foul of cheats or needlessly high charges, so what can you do to avoid rip-offs and scams?

Here are 10 things to watch out for if you don't want to spend more than you need.

Worrying World Cup tickets

Thousands of people would do anything for a ticket to a World Cup match and, unfortunately, scam artists know this all too well.

In fact, Office of Fair Trading (OFT) has warned the 25,000 English football fans heading to South Africa to make sure they've bought their tickets from a legitimate website.

Check the internet for reviews of the company selling tickets so that you can make sure they're genuine. Also, be suspicious of emails claiming you've won a FIFA ticket lottery or draw - scammers have been conning dedicated fans into paying 'administrative fees' to secure non-existent tickets.

Mighty mobile phone charges

If you're heading overseas, whether for football or just a break, you need to be careful using your mobile or you could come home to a hefty bill.

Campaign group Consumer Focus has warned that, because South Africa is outside the EU, there's no cap on the cost of making a call or text. In fact, it has worked out that the cost of calls, texts and downloading on a match day could add up to more than £100 - far above the £55 to £85 value of a ticket.

This warning applies to anyone who's travelling outside the EU this summer. So make sure you check your roaming rates before you go and ask your mobile company if it has any add-ons or bundles which will help reduce the cost of overseas' usage.

Remember that you'll pay to receive calls as well as make them, and that you won't be able to use your inclusive minutes or texts. It's also worth uploading pictures to the internet using a web cafe rather than your phone.

Outrageous airport parking

Have you ever parked at the airport only to discover on your return that it's cost more than the flights? Research by moneysupermarket.com has shown travellers can pay literally hundreds of pounds to park the car for just over a week.
 
For example, if you'd parked at the most expensive short-stay car park for eight days in April, you'd have paid an epic £375, while the average amount paid to park in a short-stay car park for eight days is £157.64.

The good news is that you can slash what you pay by booking in advance and staying in the long-stay car park instead of the short-stay spaces.

Considerable credit card fees

If you're intending to use your credit card for overseas spending this summer then be careful, the cost can soon mount up.

Many credit cards and even debit cards charge for overseas use, you're likely to pay a conversion fee of between 2.5% and 3.0% if you use them overseas. In fact, according to Santander, UK travellers spend more than £1.5billion with credit cards overseas last year, meaning they forked out some £122million in foreign exchange fees.

Avoid that extra cost by using a prepaid card or a credit card designed for overseas use, such as the Post Office Credit Card, which doesn't charge a fee for spending anywhere in the world, gives you three months 0% on purchases and has a typical annual percentage rate of 16.9%.

Fraudulent festival passes

Are you looking forward to a music festival this year? UK music lovers are an adventurous crowd, with many even heading overseas to popular gigs and planning their holidays around festivals they want to attend.

The problem is so bad that the OFT has launched a campaign - Just Tick It - to highlight the dangers - last summer alone, more than 5,000 fans were scammed when trying to buy tickets for popular UK events. Many didn't realise their ticket was bogus until they were then turned away at the gate.

Again, read online reviews of the retailer and find out what other people's experience has been. Make sure you can contact the company behind the website through a full geographical address and phone number, and that it provides refunds.

Large luggage charges

Going over your luggage allowance can be an unexpected and expensive additional cost and airlines are getting much stricter about imposing fines if your luggage is overweight.

For example, if you fly with Ryanair, you're allowed to check a maximum of two bags weighing no more than 15 kilos. The first bag will cost you £15 each way (£35 if booked by the call centre or at the airport) and you'll pay £35 for the second, rising to £70 if you book it at the airport. The price goes up in July and August too, so be careful.

That might be expensive but you'll pay even more if you go over the 15 kilo limit. After that, there's an excess baggage fee of £20 per kilo. Ouch.

With prices like that, it's well worth weighing your luggage in advance so you can make sure you don't go over. Then, if you have too much stuff, you can always wear more clothes on the plane, pack some items in your partner's suitcase and buy your toiletries at your destination to cut down on the weight.

Full price fun

Even when you're not on holiday, entertaining the kids over the long summer holidays can cost a fortune.

But if you're paying full price for tickets to theme parks, zoos and other popular family destinations, then you're forking out more than you need to.

There are loads of discounts and voucher codes out there, which could save you hundreds of pounds over six weeks of spending.

For example, on the moneysupermarket.com vouchers page at the moment, we have two-for-ones to Chessington World of Adventures, Alton Towers and Camelot Theme Park, not to mention money off trips to other parks, zoos and attractions.

Expensive eating out

Once you're out on a family trip, the cost of extras can mount up fast, especially when it comes to feeding your hungry brood.

If you can, make packed lunches in advance so that you don't end up paying close to a tenner for feeding just one toddler. To avoid carrying a heavy hamper, why not get everyone to carry their own lunch in a rucksack?

Another option is to make the most of discount vouchers and codes again, to avoid paying full price. Our vouchers channel has two-for-ones, money off and discounts at a range of restaurants, including family favourite Pizza Hut.

Costly currency

Where are you buying your holiday currency? This can dramatically change the price you pay for it - pick it up at the airport on the day of the flight and you could end up losing out on holiday spends as you're charged much higher commission.

Shop around for your currency and find the best deal on the internet. You can have your money delivered to your home and some providers, such as Travelex, will let you order online and collect it at the airport.

For example, if you plan to take 1,000 euros in spending money to Europe this year, hunting down the best deal instead of picking it up at the airport could save you £94. That'll buy a few extras.

Huge hospital fees

If you're heading to Europe, make sure you carry a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) - they can be applied for online or through the Post Office and are completely free.

Carrying one means you're entitled to reduced-cost emergency medical treatment when you're in the 27 member states of the EU, plus Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway (Switzerland is also covered but has a few exceptions).

We're so used to free medical treatment in this country that it may not occur to everyone to carry this card, but it's essential if you want to avoid an enormous and unexpected medical bill.

However, it doesn't cover everything and doesn't count outside of Europe, so this isn't a substitute for travel insurance - you still need that as well.

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.

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