So you may be wondering why we have been so quiet lately – this isn’t a sign that we’ve been enjoying a life of unemployment, in fact, it’s quite the opposite.
Do you even know how much there is to organise when taking a year out?
Jamie has been focusing on getting the house rental ready and I have been trawling my way through a mountain of paperwork – this ranges from the more exciting world of travel (insurance, money, packing lists, security etc. etc. etc) – to the dull world of finalising everything business wise, (so we can leave the country without upsetting the tax man!).
Over the course of the next couple of weeks and prior to us leaving, I will be updating the blog with some of the obstacles we have faced and how we have overcome or side stepped them.
One of my primary concerns has always been money, (aside from the worry about the lack of it!) – how will be access money whilst we are away, what will be the most cost effective way to access it and how we will safeguard ourselves against loss of cards and cash.
I researched widely online and found that since Banks prefer to make money out of you rather than not, the choices for accessing money abroad without penalties, are relatively limited.
Together, J and I made the decision to open a dedicated travel Current Account with each of us having a back up Credit Card – we just needed to find the most competitive option. In the past, we held a Nationwide current account, which previously offered a zero charge for withdrawing cash abroad, this has since been removed and therefore does not now suit our needs.
Based on my findings and to the best of my knowledge, no high street bank offers this type of Current Account, except one:
Norwich and Peterborough Building Society Gold Classic Current Account, which is in partnership with the Yorkshire Building Society.
For a monthly credit of at least £500 or retaining a minimum balance of £5k, you can take advantage of:
- Free Debit card usage worldwide
- No withdrawal Charges, retail transaction charges or handling fees (other than those charged by the ATM itself)
- Free Sentinel Card Protection, covering all cards, passports and credit cards and offering emergency cash aside other benefits.
Thats the current account sorted – which should save us massively against the option of sticking with our existing current account, which charges a minimum of £3 per withdrawal and a 2.99% fee.
In terms of credit cards, there are literally thousands available, all with varying benefits to suit differing needs – low interest rate cards, long balance transfer cards, reward cards and low purchase rate cards.
As with current accounts, the options for travel suited credit cards are also limited.
We had two options, look for a Reward Credit Card that offers air miles inline with purchases, which could be redeemed for flights at a later stage (both American Express and British Airways offer these types of cards) OR opt for a credit card that gives free purchases abroad and/or free ATM withdrawals.
I stumbled on the Halifax Clarity Card which offers just this:
- No charges for using you card anywhere worldwide for purchases or ATM withdrawals
- 18.9% APR variable according to your circumstances (not chargeable if the balance is cleared in full each month)
There are two things to point out with this card – the first is that although it is free to withdraw cash from the card abroad, you will pay interest on the amount withdrawn from the time the cash is taken to the point it is cleared in full – a cheeky but understandable charge (they have to make their money somehow!). Secondly, the credit limits and APR vary according to your individual circumstances (i.e your credit score) – so incidentally, if you have a poor credit history, you may not be accepted for this card.
Sentinel card protection comes free with the Norwich and Peterborough account and will provide a further back up in case of lost or stolen cards and the need for emergency cash, this is further to cover provided by any travel insurance.
In terms of money, we now have most bases covered – however that doesn’t mean that we don’t expect to be tripped up somewhere down the line!
Signing off with Love
In the following blog posts, we will be talking travel insurance, our favourite travel hacks so far and how to find the best value travel…