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Use your credit rating to score a holiday bargain

The family summer holiday can provide a welcome relief from the stress and strain of everyday life. It can also prove something of a financial minefield, having to juggle new expenses, look for the best deals and staying on top of your credit rating, and it’s only too easy to get carried away and blow your budget. We’ve got a few tips to help you save as much cash as possible, whilst still enjoying your holiday to the full!

1. Don’t risk your credit status – stay on top of your credit rating
If you may need credit to pay for your holiday, or to use whilst you’re abroad, it’s important that your credit report is up to date and fully accurate. It’s very common to use a credit card to spread the cost of a holiday – so plan in advance to make sure you can keep up with the monthly repayments, and keep within your agreed credit limits. The most you can pay off your cards each month, the lower your overall debt will be.

If you do miss a payment, it can affect how easily you will be able to obtain credit in the future. You can view your credit rating and access your Experian Credit Score. The score will give you an indication of how lenders will perceive your financial history, and what they will be basing their decisions on when you make future applications for credit.

2. Cold, hard cash
Shop around for the best currency deals available. It’s always going to be a huge temptation to pick it up at the airport at the last minute – although it’s never going to be the best value option. A range of cost comparison websites are available that can help you track down the best rates, and get your cash in advance. Our research suggests that the average family would save at least £13 by buying foreign currency in advance, compared to at the airport – so plan ahead!

3. Check your data and phone plans before you travel
That applies to all members of the family – you may already use your phone sensibly abroad, but it’s worth checking that younger family members are also keeping a close eye on their data usage. Too much social networking or watching funny video clips could result in seriously high data charges. If you (and they) can bear it, the best and cheapest option is just to turn your phone off whilst you’re abroad, so you only use it in an emergency. If that’s likely to result in a mutiny, however, you could investigate special travel packages, or insist that you make the most of free wi-fi in hotels and cafés.

4. Consider which debit and credit cards you use abroad
Depending on which company you bank with, debit cards can incur very different charges when they’re used overseas. Credit cards can charge a flat percentage fee per transaction, often around 3 per cent – a cost that could quickly add up! There are a number of banks and building societies who do offer special deals, designed to attract new customers, which offer much lower rates – so keep an eye open for these offers and consider applying for those which offer the most money saving options!

Hopefully these tips will be useful when you’re booking your next holiday! There are plenty more ideas to help save those pennies available online.

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