Booking a Holiday Using a Credit Card?

There is nothing better than the chance of jetting off on a much-deserved holiday.

Even though many usually wait for last-minute deals, families with children who are restricted to specific holiday dates might choose to book as far in advance as possible to make sure that they get the holiday they have been dreaming of.

Booking a holiday can be an exciting time, but no matter when you decide to take the plunge, it is important not to overlook how you will pay for it.

Paying with the use of a credit card?

Purchases that are made with the use of a credit card benefit from improved purchase protection that is included in the terms of the Consumer Credit Act.

If the travel provider goes bust and you have not got travel insurance, you can still claim the entire sum of your money from your credit card provider, even if you only paid for the deposit using a card and the rest of the balance in cash. However, as per Consumer Credit Act rules, take note that this only applies when the cost of the holiday that you are buying is more than £100.

[Note: if you purchase your holiday through a travel agent, you may only get this particular level of protection if you buy their entire suite of travel arrangements,  including a package holiday. For example,  if you just purchase an airline ticket, credit card protection may not be applied, as the agent is only the ticket's supplier and not of the flight itself.]

There are additional benefits, too, especially if your card offers a generous cashback or reward scheme.

Credit Card Charges

However, you must weigh any rewards that you may receive versus any credit card charges that the tour operator or travel agent or the tour operator may charge. Many travel agents or tour operators still ask for credit surcharges, for example of 1.5 percent of the holiday cost. This covers them for credit card fees that they incur for using either the MasterCard or the Visa systems (also known as the interchange fee). The said fees are now capped at 0.3 percent of the total cost of the credit card transaction. The holiday company may, however, incur other fees for credit card transactions so many charge a higher amount.

Need to borrow?

Borrowing money in order to go on holiday is not an ideal solution. For most people, however, spreading the cost of a holiday on a percent credit card is the only way that they can be able to afford a family getaway. If this sounds a lot like you, make sure that you use a credit card that is offering a long introductory 0 percent interest period for purchases.

Make sure to set yourself a repayment plan. It is important that you pay off your holiday before the end of the 0 percent interest period, and preferably before you will need to book for next year's holiday, otherwise, you risk an increasing debt that will only become more difficult to manage. Some credit cards will allow you to set up a direct debit for a fixed percentage, and many will permit a standing order for a set amount.

Clearing your balance by making these automated payments will help you achieve the discipline that is required to repay your holiday debt.

Begin saving for next year!

The earlier you begin saving, the easier things will be regarding booking and paying for your holiday. Starting to save in small monthly or weekly instalments is basically what you're doing when you make  credit card repayments, so why not get ahead of the game and save some money immediately?

The first thing to accomplish is to open a new savings account. When analysing savings accounts, bear in mind that you will probably require access to your savings at least twice, first to pay for the deposit when you book your holiday, and the second to pay for the balance (typically around 12 weeks before you are due to depart). An account that enables you to make regular deposits is also a great idea, thereby allowing you to make small regular payments every time you get paid as compared to one lump sum, and meaning you are able to build up your holiday fund over the year.

A regular savings account could be a good way to kick-start the savings habit and ensure that you squirrel away a bit every month, or if you are planning in advance for a big trip abroad, then a short-term fixed rate bond may be a good idea.

Bonds that run for six months to a few years propose good returns, with some allowing early access to funds. It is always worth reviewing the terms and conditions of your chosen account, however, as penalties will usually apply for withdrawing funds within the term of the deal.

How to Understand Credit Card Charges

Being charged with credit card fees make spending more expensive than it needs to be. Here is a guide on everything that you need to know regarding what they are, how much they could cost when they are charged, – and how to avoid them.

What are credit card charges?

Even though using a credit card can cost you nothing if you are responsible. Credit card providers earn their money through a variety of fees and charges that they can include onto your balance. These include:

  • Annual or monthly fees that come with some cards
  • Interest if you use the card to borrow money
  • Charges for using extra features like withdrawing cash, using the card abroad and balance transfers
  • Fees for breaching the terms of your account, such as exceeding your credit limit, not using the card, or making late repayments

Interest charges

The principal cost of a credit card is typically the interest rate, which is charged if you make use of the card to borrow money.

When you receive your bill every month, you can decide on how much you repay (although your provider will determine a minimum amount). If you opt not to repay the full amount, interest is charged on the balance.

For example, if you left a balance of £200 on a card with 20% APR, it would accrue interest of £40 each year.

You can dodge paying interest on your credit card by paying your balance in full every month. If this is not possible, you can pay less by finding a card with a lower APR.

Monthly and annual fees

Most cards come without annual fees, and some waive them during your first year.

Some credit cards charge a fee that you have to pay monthly or annually. These fees commonly cost from £12 to £150 per year.

If you have a monthly fee, it will be added to each credit card bill, so you will pay the fee as long as you make at least the minimum payment.

For example, if you had a card with a monthly fee of £4 and repaid £50 a month, £4 of this would pay off the fee and £46 would go towards the interest of the card and clearing the balance.

Annual fees are usually added to your bill every year in the month that you took out your credit card.

Late payment charges

When you receive your credit card bill every month, it will specify a minimum payment amount and a date when you need to make the payment by.

If you do not pay this by the due date indicated, you will be charged a late payment fee of about £12. Some providers also charge this every time a cheque, direct debit, or other payment type bounces when you pay them.

The easiest way to avoid charges for late payment is to set up a direct debit in order to pay at least the minimum amount every month.

Missing a payment can also have an effect on your credit rating and influence your provider to increase your interest rate or withdraw an introductory 0% APR offer.

Charges for exceeding your credit limit

Credit card providers designate a credit limit, which is the maximum amount that you can owe on your card at any point.

For example, if your credit limit is £3,000 and you carried over an outstanding balance of £1,000 last month, you will exceed your credit limit if you spend more than another £2,000.

If you go exceed your credit limit, you will be charged a fee of about £12 by your provider.

You can avoid this by checking your credit limit and monitoring how much you have spent on your card every month. You can check current spending and your limit by using your card issuer's mobile app, signing into your online account, or talking to your provider.

If you are sure that you are likely to spend too much before the end of the month, request your provider to increase your credit limit.

If you accidentally go just over the limit, talk to your provider immediately because they may allow to let you off. It may help if you volunteer to make an immediate repayment to bring your balance back within your limit.

Dormancy fees

Some American Express store cards and credit cards charge an inactivity fee if you go too long without using the card.

For example, a provider could charge £20 for every 12-month period that you do not spend on your card and if your balance remained unchanged.

Although not all cards charge dormancy fees, analyse your terms and conditions or ask your provider if you do not use your card regularly. If you have a card that you do not use and you will be charged for inactivity, consider cancelling your card.

Cash withdrawal charges

Using your credit card at an ATM can be very expensive since you will be hit by three principal charges:

  • Higher APR: The interest rate that is charged on cash advances will normally be higher than your APR on purchases – usually around 27.9% or more.
  • Withdrawal fee: This is charged as a percentage of the amount you take out. This is typically about 3%, although there is usually a minimum fee amount of a few pounds.
  • Immediate interest: An interest will be charged on the amount that you withdraw straight away, whereas normal purchases on your credit card are interest-free until after when your bill is due, often more than 50 days later.

For example, if you withdrew £100 from a cash machine via a credit card and paid it back after 36 days, you could be charged £5.52 in fees and interest.

Charges for spending abroad

If you make use of your credit card abroad, it could charge you with a loading fee of about 2.99% every time you spend. Meaning a charge of £2.99 for every £100 you spend.

The funds will also be transformed into the currency of the country at an exchange rate that is expected to be less competitive than the rates you get when you get travel money as cash.

Taking cash out abroad can be even more expensive since you will be charged interest on the amount withdrawn immediately – typically at a rate of 27.9% or more. You will also be charged for ATM withdrawal fee of about 3%.

However, cards that are designed for use abroad can come without fees for spending or withdrawing cash. You could also think about other ways to spend abroad like prepaid cards, travellers' cheques or cash.

Balance transfer charges

When you take out a credit card for a balance transfer or a money transfer or, you will normally have to pay a handling fee to make the transfer.

This fee is determined as a percentage of the balance that you want to transfer. For example, if you transferred a balance of £2,000 to a card with a fee of 2.5%, this would cost £50.

You can save by comparing cards and picking one with a low fee – some balance transfers even come with no fee at all.

 

 

How to Use a Credit Card for Interest-Free Purchases

There are credit cards that offer the cheapest way to buy something when you cannot afford to pay for it in one go. Here is a guide on how to borrow interest-free with the use of a 0% purchases card and spread the cost over a number of months.

How does a credit card with 0% on purchases work?

You can make use of any credit card to spend, but unless you pay off everything that you buy each month, you will normally have to pay for interest.

Cards that offer 0% on purchases charge customers with no interest at all for several months after you receive the card. This is known as an interest-free period.

For example, a credit card with a 24-month interest-free period means that you will not have to pay interest on what you buy using your card for 24 months as long as you make the minimum payment every month. The longest 0% deals can last for more than two years.

Why get a 0% deal?

You can make use of a 0% purchases card to borrow for free.

You can divide the cost of a large purchase over several months. As long as you pay it back before the end of the interest-free period and do not break the terms of the card, you will not be required to pay any interest or fees at all.

How much does a purchases card cost?

If you pay back what you borrowed and used the card responsibly, you can borrow interest-free.

However, unless you pay off the outstanding balance in full before the end of the 0% period, you will begin to be charged interest each month.

You will also have to dodge the other fees and charges that can be associated with credit cards. Learn how to dodge credit card charges to make sure you get your card for free.

Make sure that you do not spend beyond your means because a 0% purchases card does not offer you free money – you will eventually have to pay off every penny you borrow.

How to pick a 0% purchases credit card

The best interest-free purchases credit card is the deal which offers you 0% for the longest period, allowing you more time to pay off the balance without being charged interest.

Each card also has a representative APR, which is a guideline of the interest rate they will charge after the 0% period ends.

You should only base your choice on this rate if you plan to carry on using the card after the end of the interest-free period.

How to manage your card

Always pay at least the minimum amount

Your credit card statement will show you the minimum amount you need to pay each month and the date that you have to pay it by.

A late payment charge which costs around £12 will be charged to you if you miss a payment, and it will show on your credit record too.

Your provider could also end the 0% purchases deal on your card and start to charge you interest on what you owe.

How much is the minimum payment?

At least 1% of the amount that you owe, plus charges and interest if you do not have a 0% deal. There will also be a minimum amount of at least £5.

Note the date the deal ends

Check on how long your card will be interest-free by determining how many months your deal lasts and then count forward from the date that your application is accepted.

Remember this date when you work out how you will be able to repay the card, and schedule a reminder on your calendar or phone to off the outstanding balance and close your account at the end of the period.

Try to clear the balance before the 0% deal ends

If you want to dodge paying any interest at all, you will be required to pay off the full balance by the end of the interest-free period.

The easiest way to do this is by dividing the balance equally. Divide your total outstanding balance by the number of interest-free months to determine how much to pay every month. For example, to pay off a £3,000 purchase over 30 months, you would need to repay £100 per month.You could also make only the minimum payments every month and then pay off the rest just before the end of the interest-free period. Make sure that you save up enough to repay it by the end since you will have to begin paying interest otherwise. You could even save this money in a high-interest savings account and earn a profit.

What to do after the interest-free period

When the period ends, your card provider will begin to charge you interest every month if you still have a balance that is due on your card.

If you still want to buy things with a credit card, it is worth finding a new card that offers a lower interest rate, or even a new 0% purchases card.

You can compare credit cards and APR here.

What if there is still a balance left?

If you do not succeed to repay the entire balance before the end of the 0% period, you could make use of a balance transfer to move it to a new card with a 0% period.

Alternatively, you could avail of a low rate credit card instead of a 0% purchases card. Although these do charge you for interest, they offer low rates that can continue for a longer period, so they can work out cheaper if you need years to pay off your card.

 

The Best Ways to Pay for Your Wedding

Your wedding will be a marvellous day, but an expensive one also. Picking the right way to pay for your big day could help you come in on budget.

Use your savings

Using your savings could be the option that is cheapest since you would not be charged with interest for borrowing.

Before you choose to empty your account, ask yourself these questions:

  • Are you saving for a house deposit? If you are saving for a new home, consider keeping your money since you cannot use credit cards or avail a loan to pay for a deposit.
  • What savings rate are you receiving? If you can borrow money interest-free, you might be better off leaving your savings to earn some interest.

If you are planning your wedding day years in advance, you might have the time to establish a budget and save enough to pay for it without borrowing a cent.

If you do not have any money saved up, there are other ways that you can pay for your wedding.

Get a new credit card

A credit card can be an affordable method to borrow the money that you need to pay for your wedding.

Spread the cost and pay no interest

0% purchase credit cards allow you to spend without paying interest for a fixed number of months.

For example, a card with 28 months interest-free means that you will not be charged any interest on things you buy for that period as long as you satisfy the terms of the card.

This means that you can spread the cost over the interest-free free term, and if you repay off the balance before the term is over, you can borrow interest-free.

However, you may only be accepted for this kind of card if you possess a good credit record, and the credit limit that you are offered may not cover all your wedding costs.

Earn rewards

If you have managed to save the money that you need to spend for your wedding, buying everything using a rewards credit card could be a great way to receive some additional perks.

As long as you pay for the balance in full every month with your savings, you could earn air miles, cashback, or other rewards without paying any interest.

However, if you are not able to pay off the balance, the interest that you receive charged could cost you higher than the perks that you receive in return.

Credit card spending is protected

One benefit of spending on your credit card is that it comes with protection under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act.

Any purchase that you make between £100 and £30,000 is covered, and you could refund your money from the card provider if something goes wrong.

Even if you only pay for the deposit with the use of your credit card, the total amount paid will be covered under Section 75.

For example, if you paid a deposit of £100 using your credit card for your venue, and you pay off the balance of £2,500 using your savings, the total amount of £2,600 would be covered.

Get a personal loan

Getting a personal loan can be an expensive way to pay for your wedding. However, it could satisfy all your costs and allow you to pay it back in monthly instalments.

You could borrow up to £25,000 over one to seven years using a personal loan, with some available at interest rates below 3 percent.

The annual percentage rate (APR) is the interest that you need to pay on the total value of your loan. Which means that the lower your APR, the less interest you will pay on what you borrow.

You should only avail of a loan if you do not have enough savings to satisfy the costs, or you cannot get a 0% purchase credit card with a large enough balance.

Ask help from family and friends

If you are lucky to have friends and family that are willing to assist with the price of your wedding, it can ease the strain.

Normally, the family of the bride takes charge of the bill. However, nowadays it is usually down to you to cover most of the costs. (See also: Family or Friends, Who Should You Borrow From? )

Protect what you spend

Before you spend on anything, consider getting a wedding insurance policy.

This could cover you if something goes wrong and you are forced to cancel, like if your venue goes out of business or if one of your wedding party falls ill.

See: Do You Need Wedding Insurance?

How Should You Make Payments for Your Rental Deposit?

Deposits, letting agent fees, and rent are increasing in price. Here is a guide on how to pay your deposit and whether you should consider using a credit card or borrowing the money.

Your mode of payment

Your method of payment is up to your letting agent or your landlord, but they may let you pay by:

Private landlords sometimes accept cash. If you pay with cash, secure a receipt in case you need proof of the amount of your payment in the future.

If you already have the money saved up, using this is normally your cheapest option. If you can not yet afford a deposit, you need to borrow the money or save up.

How to quickly save up a deposit

You can save for a deposit by setting aside as much as you can afford every month into a savings account. Increase the amount that you can save by:

  • Decreasing your cost of living
  • Sticking to a budget

Could you borrow the money for the rent instead?

You could borrow money if you do not have enough saved for a deposit. You can pay it back after several months.

However, the interest you pay can make it much more costly than using the money that you have saved. Paying back a loan can also make it more difficult for you to afford your rent.

Some landlords normally prefer tenants who have saved up enough cash for a deposit. This is because it determines that you are financially reliable.

Some might not allow you to rent their property if you are in debt because you could find it hard to afford your rent as well as the repayments for your loan.

Can you pay a deposit using a credit card?

Yes, some leasing agents allow you to pay your deposit using a credit card. However, they often charge you a fee of 2% of the deposit amount or more.

Private landlords usually do not accept credit card payments. Also, some letting agents do not accept them either.

This is because landlords can not usually accept credit card payments, and they cost more for letting agents process the payments.

If you decide to pay by using your credit card, you could pick one that offers interest-free purchases. This could allow you to pay back the deposit amount over several months without interest charges.

Can you avail a loan for your rental deposit?

There are a lot of ways to borrow money, including:

  1. An interest-free money transfer credit card
  2. An interest-free overdraft
  3. A personal loan

Be sure that you can be able to pay the repayments on top of your rent and the rest of your living expenses before you apply for any kind of loan.

Can you borrow from family or friends?

If your family, parents, or friends can loan you the money for your deposit, this could be a much cheaper option, especially if they do not charge interest.

Ensure that you get your deposit back

When you move out, you should get your deposit back if you:

  1. Make on-time payments for your rent
  2. Not damage anything while you live in the place
  3. Make the property tidy and clean when you move out
  4. Follow the terms of your tenancy agreement

Check if your money will be safe

Estate agents and landlords cannot keep your deposit in their own bank account. They are required to pay it into a Tenancy Deposit Plan (TDP).

This hinders them from spending the money. It also gives you the extra protection that could assist you to get your money back when you move out.