If you are looking forward to getting away this summer, we’ve lots of information to help you avoid nasty surprises while you’re on holiday, and when you get back.
Make sure you have the right travel insurance
Travel insurance will cover you against losses such as damaged or delayed luggage, cancelled flights, delayed or missed departure, loss or theft of money or passport and illness or injury. Always, remember to take your travel insurance documents with you when you go away and make sure you know what to do if you need to make a claim. This could include reporting an incident or making sure you get police reports fully translated within a certain amount of time.
There are lots of different policies and options available, depending on how long you are going for, where you are going to and what you will be doing on holidays. Policy terms and conditions are different with each provider, so make sure you are happy with the level of cover offered and any exclusions that apply. Not all policies cover damages to mobile phones or lost baggage, so make sure you are happy about what you are covered for, and the excess you might have to pay if you make a claim.
You may get a discount on travel insurance if you already have private health insurance. Your home insurance could also cover the loss of belongings away from home, if you have ‘all risks’ cover, so check the terms and conditions of your current policies and you could avoid paying twice for something you are already covered for.
Make sure you find a policy that provides the cover you need and don’t base your decision on price alone. If you are comparing policies, make sure you are comparing ones with the same level of cover to ensure you get the right product at the best price.
Don’t let roaming charges ruin your holiday
Roaming charges have come down a lot over the last few years, particularly if you are travelling within the EU. But do your research before you travel – talk to your provider to make sure your phone will work in the country you are travelling to, and find out what charges apply there, in particular any data roaming charges. Callcosts.ie has an online calculator that allows you compare the cost of different mobile operators within the EU. While you are abroad, make sure you are connected to your mobile phone operator’s recommended network.
Using your bank cards abroad and getting foreign currency
If you are planning to use your debit or credit card while abroad, make sure you understand the charges before you go, as they can easily add up. If you use your debit card at an ATM or to make a purchase in the Eurozone, you’ll be charged exactly the same as you would at home. If you use your debit card outside the Eurozone, for example in the UK or USA, you will be charged a non-euro cash withdrawal or card purchase fee, which is usually a percentage of the transaction, with a minimum amount per transaction. Try not to use your card for lots of small transactions, as these charges can really add up. Our current account comparison has more details of charges that apply when you use your cards abroad. Remember to check your card before travelling – you can use your ATM card to withdraw cash abroad if your card and the ATM machine has a Maestro, Cirrus, Plus, Visa or Link symbol on it.
You can use your credit card when shopping or paying for services when you are abroad, just like at home. If you are in the Eurozone, you pay the same amount as you would for using your card in Ireland. But if you are outside the Eurozone, you will pay a transaction fee and your card provider will also charge you for converting the transaction into euro. You can check the transaction fee for your credit card using our credit card comparison. Be aware that in some countries, you may be asked for identification such as a passport when you use your debit or credit card.
If you withdraw foreign currency either at an ATM machine or over the counter in a bank abroad, you will have to pay a currency-conversion fee. Don’t forget, you can also get foreign currency in your bank, post office or at the airport.
Hiring a car when you are away
Don’t forget, some companies will insist that you have an international driving permit and you usually need to have a credit card. Do some research before you go – check car rental websites to get the best deal in advance. Always read the terms and conditions and make sure you know what the quoted cost includes. The European Consumer Centre has a list of common problems to watch out for when you’re renting a car in the EU.
How to complain if you are not happy
Find out what your rights are if you flight is cancelled or delayed, and how to complain about lost luggage. You do not have the same level of protection under consumer law if you book each part of your holiday separately instead of booking a package holiday. With a package holiday, the travel agent or tour operator is responsible for making sure your holiday runs smoothly. If you bought something in another EU country and something goes wrong with it, contact the European Consumer Centre Ireland.