Cost of del Sol: avoid getting burned on holiday
You've booked a holiday to get away from the stress, strain and rip-off prices so be careful not to have your trip wrecked by bad-value deals and unnecessary charges, writes Charlie Weston
IF you are lucky enough to be able to afford a holiday abroad this summer, the last thing you will want to do is end up getting stung by unnecessary costs.
And it is very easy to fall prey to bad value on holiday, when your guard is down, as you unwind and take it easy.
What is required to avoid getting fleeced on holiday is a little bit of planning before you head off to the sun.
Here are some cost-cutting ideas that will help you avoid ending up with a holiday money hangover.
Holidaymakers can avoid rip-off car parking rates by shopping around for the cheapest deals, preferably long before they take off for the sun.
Those who simply turn up and park as near as possible to the terminal could be landed with a bill for up to €140 for a week's parking -- compared with just €40 if you book to park a little further away.
Dublin Airport Authority also offers ongoing discounts on its long-term car parking rates for advance bookings.
The nearest long-term "Red" car park costs €52.50 for a week booked online, which works out as a 21pc discount on the standard €66.50 rate, according to a recent survey conducted by this newspaper.
The cheapest deals we found were for the Carlton Hotel on the Old Airport Road, which charges €35 for a week's parking and is open to non-residents; and €38.50 with the Crowne Plaza.
Both these prices were sourced through www.airportparkingsite.ie.
This website has details on cheap parking deals at all the main airports -- Dublin, Cork, Donegal, Kerry, Galway, Sligo and Waterford.
If you use your credit card to get cash from an ATM you will be hit with an interest rate of up to 26pc and may also have to pay cash-withdrawal fees.
Also, with some cards, you will be charged interest from the day you take out your money.
One way to avoid interest and withdrawal fees is to pre-load or credit the card with money before you leave.
For example, there are no withdrawal fees if you pre-load the cards issued by AIB and Bank of Ireland. Other issuers have charges but they are not high -- usually around 1.5pc.
You need to pay off the balance owed on the card before pre-loading it.
Otherwise, any money put into the account will end up being used to clear the oustanding amount.
However, there is an extra security risk if you lose a credit card that has been pre-loaded with cash.
So, ensure you take a note of the card issuers' phone number, in case you need to cancel it.
When buying goods or services you can pay in the local currency, or you may be given the option of having the payment converted to euro at the point of sale. However, there is a 3pc charge imposed on the transaction for this facility.
Paying in the local currency will normally cost you less, because the exchange rate given to you at the point of sale is usually less favourable than the rate your bank will give.
If you are going outside the eurozone then change your money before you go, and not at the airport.
Don't buy foreign currency well in advance, trying to second guess the market -- that is a mug's game.
Travellers' cheques are relatively expensive. There is commission of 1pc to 2pc of the euro value of the currency when bought, and again when cashed.
Banks tend to be cheaper than hotels when cashing them. Change them in bulk.
You can use your debt card (Laser, Maestro, Cirrus or Visa) in the 16-member eurozone to withdraw cash and there are the same charges as here for withdrawing money -- from 0c to 20c.
Outside the eurozone, transaction charges of up to 3.5pc apply, often with a minimum charge of €3.
Avoid independent ATM machines when withdrawing your cash, as the charges tend to be higher.
caR-hire excess cover
When you hire a car abroad, you should consider buying excess insurance cover before you leave Ireland.
Otherwise, you will then be liable for the first €2,000 of any repair or replacement cost of the hired car.
This is because most hire companies only cover collision damage waiver (CDW) and theft to the car, leaving you liable for the first €2,000 of any damage.
If the car is damaged or stolen, the car rental company will charge your credit card for the excess amount and you can then claim for reimbursement on your policy.
Do not be tempted to buy the excess insurance offered by the car hire company when you pick up the car -- it will be hugely expensive and you can get much better offers.
You can save significant time and money purchasing a car hire excess policy before you go on holiday.
The policy covers the excess on a car hire policy up to a maximum of €3,000 of damage to windows and tyres, fire, vandalism, theft or loss of use of the vehicle, according to John Geraghty of LABrokers.ie, an online insurance brokerage.
You can buy a policy to cover a one-off trip or you can buy an annual policy, which covers any number of trips. Typical costs for a one-off policy covering Europe are about €2.99 a day.
The same policy covering worldwide and the USA costs €4.99 a day, Mr Geraghty said.