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How to save money on holidays abroad

The Post Office recently reported that 67% of UK holidaymakers went over their agreed budget on their last trip abroad by an average of £154.62 - that’s 46% more than planned.

Families are even more likely to overspend, with the average spending £312 more than they’d budgeted, according to the report.

But we’ve found that, with a bit of planning, it’s possible to keep your budget on track while you’re away.

Prepaid currency cards

Prepaid currency cards allow you to load money onto the card before you leave home so you can use it while you’re abroad, just like you would with a normal debit card.

Unlike credit or debit cards, prepaids only let you spend the money on the card, so there’s no way of going overdrawn or running up debt. You can just top it up with your own money when it runs out.

Before you get one, check out the terms and conditions. For example, FairFX Prepaid Multi-Currency Card is free to use in 20 currencies, including euros and US dollars, but costs £1 per cash withdrawal to use at ATMs.

Meanwhile, the Post Office Travel Money Card charges no fees when you spend abroad using the local currency that’s supported by the card. It also has no fees for 12 months, but after that it charges £2 a month.

For more information on other cards, go to the Money website or

Cheap foreign exchange rates

If you need foreign currency in cash, there are apps that give you information on which money exchange provider offers the best rates.

MoneySavingExpert has a tool where you can compare cheapest rates for your holiday.

It’s also helpful to download a currency converter app onto your phone so you can check the price of anything you want to buy abroad in UK pounds first.

Medical help on holiday

If you require medical treatment on holiday, you’ll need to show your European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) or its replacement, the Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC).

EHIC and GHIC cards give access to state-run hospitals or GPs in EU countries for the same price as the locals - so if it's free for them, it's free for you.

Check the expiry date on your EHIC as millions are due to expire this year and in 2025. You can use your EHIC until the expiry date on the card.

If you need to get a new card, you can apply for a GHIC via the NHS website. It’s free and lasts up to five years.

Never pay for a GHIC or use websites asking for a fee for fast tracking or other things, as they’re not endorsed by the UK’s Department of Health.

The Government says it takes up 15 working days from the point of approval to receive a new card, so plan ahead before your trip. If you don't have your card when you travel, but need treatment while away, you can apply for a provisional replacement certificate, which proves your entitlement.

Health cover

The EHI and GHIC do not cover everything, for instance mountain rescue and medical repatriation, which is when a patient needs to be taken back to their home country. So don’t forget to get travel insurance with health cover in place for a trip in the EU or for any overseas travel for full peace of mind.

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