Are you planning to Greece? You should take a decent amount of currency, and make sure you get a good travel insurance policy. If you are driving to Europe? Breakdown cover is key for you.
Who is cheapest insurers for foreign exchange, especially if you’re planning to Greece and you need to take a lot of euros? What is the best-buy travel insurance now? How much should you pay for car breakdown cover? Let go shopping for the best deals in these issues
Best travel exchange office for Euros
This summer many holidaymakers are heading for the beaches and islands, which will be carrying much larger amounts of cash rather than relying on taking money out of ATMs on arrival because of euro crisis.
Others people like to keep a decent amount of money in their wallet before going to countries in the eurozone.
Buying your money online is the cheapest option and have the euros delivered to your door before heading off. You can also make a decent deal online and then pick up the cash at a exchange office.
Even you can buy your currency last minute at the airport, but this deal is usually the worst value.
Best for delivery We asked to change £500, and Moneycorp came top offering €693.15, or around €30 more than the worst deals, generally, which are at the major high street banks (although Telegraph Travel, a deal offered by the newspaper, was bottom of the table, while HSBC was relatively good).
Website bestforeignexchange gave four cents more than Moneycorp, but we discounted it as it isn’t authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority.
If neither of those names appeals, then Debenhams, HSBC, Marks & Spencer (cardholders only) and Asda were all decent value.
Lots of online deals offer free next-day delivery if you exchange at least £500. For sums are less than this amount, you are likely to be charged £5 for delivery. Obviously, first, you have to go online and open a personal account and transfer money from your current account to buy the currency.
We also tested the best providers for changing £1,000 into euros, this might be more suitable for those heading to Greece. And we realized that Moneycorp was again the best FCA-authorised site, although a number that weren’t came higher, such asTravelFX and ACEFX.
Best for collection You can go online, book cash. After that you can arrange to collect it at the airport, your bank or from a office in a shop if you don’t like the idea of it being posted. Generally, we found you get a slightly worse rate, but it’s marginal. For example, Post Office, a famous currency exchange market, was only offering middling value.
Best for last minute If you hand your debit card over at the airport and exchange for euros, it means you’re throwing your money away. According to travel money max, from money-saving expert Martin Lewis, you would get around €50 less for your £500 by changing it at the airport.
Money has found that the ICE office in Waterloo Station, London, which offers half-decent rates, but our best advice is to try to order beforehand for delivery or collection.
Best travel insurance
There are plenty of policies starting at around £10 for a single trip, but they are riddled with exclusions and excesses, which make them virtually pointless. For example, to find the best value for a family of four (two children aged between 10 and 12) we only looked for those that covered bags for at least £750, cancellation at a minimum of £1,000 a person, and where the excess was just £50.
Best for a family, single trip, two weeks, Europe ERV Express Lite. With £15.22 it was only £3 more than the policies with high excesses, and the policy is written by a company that is in the giant Munich Re insurance group.
If a family wants the peace of mind of knowing that it would cost them nothing at all in the event of a claim, the cheapest with a zero excess is again from ERV, the Express Premier policy coming in at £27.10.
Best for family, annual cover, Europe only ERV tops again for this, charging only £38.69 for its annual Express Lite policy.
Best for family, annual cover, Europe, including skiing For this field, Alpha comes top at £53.76. It is still a small company, but it has grown out of a provider that specialised in backpacker insurance, although they have been around since 2006. They are also best value if you want to include the US in your annual policy, charging £85.68 for our family of four.
Best for individual, single trip, two weeks, Europe £8.55 from Alpha with a £50 excess; and £15.06 from ERV (Express Premier) for a policy with zero excess.
Best for individual, annual cover ERV Express Lite at £13.54 for Europe-only;£22.58 from Alpha for Europe with winter sports cover included; and £35.99 from Alpha for worldwide cover with winter sports.
Best for extended holiday/backpacker Most annual policies are really multi-trip that cover you for up to 30 days out of the country per trip. For example, if you are going for longer trip you will need a policy with a longer duration. Up to 62 days, and Direct Travel Insurance is best at £48.38, while Planet Earth will cover 91 days at £92.76.
InsureandGo has a trip with backpacker policy starting at £239, but if you want proper cover then you are looking at £390 while Outbacker insurance offers slightly lower levels of cover for £168-£228.
Best European car breakdown cover
Don’t be tempted to hasten through the Euro tunnel on a summer break, without taking out breakdown cover. If the engine fails and your car has to be taken back to the UK the costs can run into the thousands.
But you should buy the policies which are offered from the mainstream companies, such as the AA or RAC, they are very pricey compared to some other deals.
For example, we sought quotes on the cost of covering a three-year-old Nissan Qashqai for a two-week holiday in France or Spain. The RAC wanted £69.70 for comprehensive cover just for the holiday, while the AA said full cover would be £79.76. This was double the price of Swiftcover at £33.50 for 11-17 days, or the £41.11 that ETA (Environmental Transport Association) wanted, for what looked like a higher level of cover and which aims to be carbon-neutral.
But it’s better to find a breakdown policy in reality that covers you or your car for the year in the UK, with European breakdown as an add-on. We found Kwik-Fit offered the best deal at £50.37 for our Nissan for full breakdown recovery in the UK and Europe for 12 months.