This week the Independent claimed a victory against Barclaycard, forcing them to reveal the interest rate you could get if you aren’t a credit angel as well as the headline rate you could have won.
This means that consumers can weigh up the chances of them getting the advertised 18.9% rate against the possible 29.9% rate offered to the less-than-holy before Barclaycard run a credit check on their account. The difference between the two rates is the widest spread of any major lender, so it’s good news that consumers can make an informed decision.
But another card scenario also requires consumers to know the financial consequence of what they are doing, or pay through the nose. Using your card while abroad can weigh heavily on your pocket when you get back, and it’s best to know what you are doing before you incur the charges.
Figures from uSwitch estimate that one in four consumers will each put an average of £992 on a credit card racking up a whacking great £327 million in additional charges, owing to the average 2.75% exchange rate transaction fee charged by card providers. Those who use their credit card to withdraw cash abroad will be stung even more, with additional 3% cash handling fees and daily interest rates for cash of up to 39.9%.
But are debit cards any better? The same proportion of customers will use a debit card, but in addition to the 2.75% exchange rate fee, an estimated £1.25 transaction charge also applies. This would mean a customer paying a £100 restaurant bill on their debit card abroad could typically end up being charged £104 for the meal – instead of paying £102.75 on their credit card. However, uSwitch figures show that cash withdrawal fees on a debit card are normally 1% cheaper and do not suffer punitive interest charges, unlike a credit card.
Of course, these fees do not take into consideration the cost of changing money anyway, and even if the exchange provider doesn’t charge explicit fees or commission, their take will be incorporated in the exchange rate. Today, ICICI would give you €1,163 in exchange for £1,000, although the strict currency conversion (from xe.com) would give you €1,176. Still, the £13 fee only works out at just over 1%.
Last one in the water’s a wuss.
The price of diesel and unleaded fuel for UK buyers has risen in most European countries compared to last summer, according to a survey by Post Office Travel Money.
This hike has been sharpest in the places that British travellers are most likely to visit, so if you’re getting stung at home, you’ll be getting stung on holiday too. Over in Spain, the price of petrol has shot up by 7.4% in a mere 12 months, while in France, the price has gone up by 4.7%.
Of 17 European countries surveyed, only Croatia, the Czech Republic, Switzerland and Denmark had cheaper petrol for UK drivers in April 2013 compared to April 2012. If you want a bargain, you’ll have to go to Andorra or Luxembourg. PARTY!
Another reason it’ll be mondo-expensive is that sterling has slumped in value against Euro currencies. So, the price of fuel has gone up AND the exchange rate will give you even less. Diesel has risen in most countries too.
Andrew Brown, of Post Office Travel Money, said: “The disparity between what motorists pay for diesel and for unleaded petrol in Europe is in marked contrast to the UK, where diesel has long been more expensive. This was just one of the anomalies we picked up in this year’s survey, another being a difference of up 48p a litre in fuel costs across the eurozone.”
“It may not make sense for holidaymakers to plan big detours just to save a few pounds, but the higher price of motoring on the Continent this year means they should plan their routes carefully before setting out so they keep costs down.”
Well of course railcards cost you money- you have to buy them in the first place. However, most people purchase a railcard because they believe they will save money by dint of cheaper fares if they do so. A fair assumption to make given the concept of railcards. However, it has come to our money-saving attention that using a railcard in certain situations could actually end up costing almost twice as much as it should do.
Imagine you live in Birmingham. It’s lovely and full of friendly, regionally accented people. There are great shops and at least one quite good football team. Everyone’s happy. Say you have to leave lovely Birmingham and go to that London. You might buy a train ticket to whisk you from Birmingham New Street to London Euston in a mere hour and some change. Good job we’ve got HS2 coming to speed things up around here.
Anyway, say you don’t actually live at New Street station, and so have to get a connecting train in. A connecting train that costs, say, £6.75 return for an adult and a child. You might think it would be easier and less hassle to just buy your connecting ticket at the same time as your expensive trip to London. Sometimes it even costs the same, saving savvy travellers that £6.75.
If we don’t have a railcard, the sums are easy. Without a railcard, the cost of the connected journey on a weekday morning (next week) for one adult and one child is £132. Without the connecting train in, the cost falls to £125.25. You haven’t saved the cost of your connecting train in, but you are only paying £6.75 extra- the cost of the two connecting train tickets.
Now add a railcard. The fare is considerably cheaper, with the full journey costing £74.80. That’s a saving of 44%. That’s even better than the advertised third off. Great money saving.
However, if you remove the connecting train, the price for one adult and one child from Birmingham New Street to London, on the exact same trains is only £37.80. That’s £37 cheaper. Even if you deduct the cost of paying for the connecting train separately, that’s still a £30.25 additional saving. The journey from Birmingham to London now costs just 30% of the standard advance price. Now that is a great saving, and at the ‘cost’ of the hassle of buying a connecting ticket at the local station.
Of course, advance tickets (even 1 day advance) are normally cheaper than standard on-the-day fares, and you can book online (from a website that doesn’t charge card or booking fees) and claim cashback too.
While we have heard of split journey pricing before (i.e buying a ticket from Birmingham to Milton Keynes, and then one from Milton Keynes to London), we have not come across this type of penalty pricing for connecting trains before. The images are taken from Virgin Trains website, but the same prices show up on any ticket comparison site. Definitely worth knowing.
In this Yewtree-tastic world we live in, we’d like to imagine that we’ve come a long way from the groping, grasping, heavy breathing sexism of yore. But Virgin Trains seems to think that the women who work for them are Barbara Windsor in Carry On Camping, more than happy to show off their bras while Bernard Bresslaw says ‘corrr.’
The latest uniforms for Virgin’s female train staff feature short, skimpy red blouses that are almost see through. As a result, employees have been complaining that unless they wear a red bra, their underwear is clearly visible through the material.
Now, if you’ve ever met a woman, you know she’s got about 3 bras – a black one, a manky grey/once-white one and a fancy one for when she wants a shag. So Virgin’s Business Support (GEDDIT?) department has offered employees a £20 voucher to buy a new bra.
Its director, Andy Cross, who sounds like Mr Grace from Are You Being Served said: “It’s important that our people feel comfortable and so we will be issuing vouchers in the next few days for ladies to buy undergarments to wear under their blouses.’
But the ‘ladies’ don’t want to buy new ‘undergarments’. Why the hell should they?
Manuel Cortes, general secretary for rail union TSSA, said: ‘Our female members want to be judged with dignity on their professionalism in the workplace.’
But I have a suggestion. If they’re going to keep the blouses, maybe Branson could redress the balance and put his male employees in a pair of skimpy gauze briefs with ‘Virgin’ written across the arse?
The Tesco Value Beans of the Sky, easyJet, are launching a trial of mobile boarding passes.
This new system will be available at six airports, including Manchester, Southend, Stansted and Edinburgh, allows passengers to download their boarding pass to their phone via the easyJet app. You’ll use your phone to progress through security, bag drops and all that tedious stuff you have to do in airports.
The airline reckon that this will now result in a check-in time of less than 10 seconds, which sounds great, but cynicism says that, should this trial work, easyJet will roll out the campaign once they’ve worked out how much to charge customers for downloading the app.
In a statement easyJet says: “Subject to a successful customer trial we’ll be working hard with our airport partners to roll this out to more airports. Mobile boarding passes make travel easier by allowing you to keep all your travel information in one place. No more paper or searching for a printer.”
The company’s marketing manager, Peter Duffy, said: “The trial will also be extended to include multiple boarding passes on the same device so that families can all check in using one or a number of mobiles, depending on their preference.”
This comes on the back of the news that, as of the end of last month, easyJet will no longer operate check-in desks at airports, with all customers required to check-in online.
If you’re lucky enough to be able to afford a holiday this year, you’ll be pleased to know that it’s going to be cheaper to buy your suncream/condoms/beer goggles abroad than ever before.
In a bid to attract British holidaymakers and their rampant alcoholism, resorts in the Algarve and Costa Del Sol are lowering prices for everyday items like coffee, beer, soft drinks, cigarettes and meals. Some prices are down by 15 to 20%, according to the Post Office Holiday Costs Barometer (which I like to imagine is operated by Postman Pat wearing Fake Bake and Hawaiian shorts, but probably isn’t.)
Albufeira in the Algarve was the cheapest resort, thanks to its low-priced meals and drinks. The most expensive places in Europe to visit are Tuscany and Sorrento in Italy, but you probably already knew that.
The advice from the Post Office and their super shiny holiday barometer is this: choose your resort wisely this year, and you could save more overall. So despite a lousy exchange rate, you’ll still be able to get so drunk that you can crash into a swimming pool on a moped and then give everyone you encounter a sexual disease.
Anyone who has ever experienced a sleepless night on the Glasgow to London Megabus, listening to an empty can of Tennents Super rolling around the aisle, will be delighted to know that a new improved Megabus is being launched – with BEDS.
Customers using the new sleepercoaches, serving 11 Scottish cities, will also get a toothbrush, eyemask and (KILL ME NOW) a branded Megabus onesie included in the ticket price.
Stagecoach, owners of the Megabus enterprise, yesterday unveiled their new £5m fleet, which will take passengers from both Edinburgh and Glasgow to London in 7 hours 50 minutes.
Owner Sir Brian Souter, (who was once a vocal supporter of homophobic legislation Clause 28), modelled the super camp onesie for its launch, and tried to make it seem cool by saying:
‘It used to be just popstars that had beds on board their tour buses, now everyone can benefit from a comfortable, great value overnight journey.’
So basically, you can lie down in a slow, rumbling tin can all night dressed like a baby while someone called Tam across the aisle sticks his willy out of the zipper and pees into an empty bottle of Buckfast.
Just like being on a tour bus with the Stones, eh, Brian?
Lots of changes happened on 1 April, and for many people, these are no joke. However, one of the lesser-publicised changes was the rise in APD, which increased to £67 per person for flights of 2000-4000 miles, to £83 for 4000-6000 miles and £94 for longer haul flights. Short-haul flight costs remained at £13 per person.
However, crucially, APD only becomes payable when the passenger’s bottom leaves the UK on an aeroplane, meaning that if you cancel, or cannot fly for any reason, you should be able to claim (at least) the APD portion of your flight cost back. Unfortunately, this is easier said than done.
A new report by our good friends at Which! shows that getting your APD back can be easier said than done as many airlines charge ‘admin fees’ greater than the value of the APD to process your claim. And the fee itself varies from airline to airline.
Ryanair naturally never fails to miss a money-making opportunity and charges £4 more per person than the APD levy to make a claim. Although Jet2 tops the table at £40, this is a per booking fee,not per person; Virgin Atlantic charges £30 per person, double BA’s £15 each charge.
But not all bucket airlines are baddies, and not all posher types are genial- Easyjet charges no admin fee for an APD repayment and neither do Thomas Cook- but that’s because Thomas Cook don’t actually refund APD. At all. It seems they find it irrelevant that they have taken your money to pay a tax that was not actually paid, telling Which! that they “believe that some other airlines refund APD, however Thomas Cook does not; there is no legal obligation to do so.” They went on to say that even if they did have to refund it, they are sure the admin fee would cancel it out anyway.
Helpfully, the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) also said that while it is reasonable for consumers to try to get their tax back from the airline, if the admin fee cancels out the tax refund, or the airline refuses to return the tax, that’s just tough. The FOS suggest you ask your travel insurer to cough up instead. It’s not often that we stick up for insurance companies, but asking them to cough up just so the airline can keep money it isn’t actually entitled to seems a bit off.
Of course, the simplest way to avoid paying APD is not to get on a flight leaving the UK, or just fly from Northern Ireland instead- competition from cheaper flights in the Republic of Ireland means there is no APD unless the flight connects within the short-haul Band A area.
When the news broke regarding the idea of pay-as-you-weigh flights, everyone laughed it off, made some lazy jokes and told sneering anecdotes about tubby people on planes.
No-one really thought that an airline would be daft enough to try it out in the real world.
However, Samoa Air are going to actually do it and become the world’s first airline to implement “pay as you weigh” tariffs.
“This is the fairest way of travelling,” said chief executive of Samoa Air, Chris Langton. “There are no extra fees in terms of excess baggage or anything – it is just a kilo is a kilo is a kilo.”
“When you get into the Pacific, standard weight is substantially higher [than south-east Asia],” he said. “That’s a health issue in some areas. [This payment system] has raised the awareness of weight.”
This new system will see Samoa Air passengers being asked to input their weight and the weight of their baggage when online booking. You’ll be charged $1 per kg on short flights and around $4.16 per kg for longer distances. Anyone thinking they can flatter themselves in a bid to get cheaper flights will be met with a set of scales at the airport.
Mr Langton said he believed it to be a system of the future, adding that “the standard width and pitch of seats are changing as people are getting a bit bigger, wider and taller than they were 40 to 50 years ago” and that “a family of maybe two adults and a couple of mid-sized kids … can travel at considerably less than what they were being charged before.”
You have to wonder what this means for people who are really tall. Will they be penalised in the face of small thin people getting cheaper deals? Will people’s BMI index ratings come into play? It is more likely that airlines couldn’t give a toss and will apply a blanket rule and coin it in whichever way they can. Either way, it isn’t likely to see people going on crash diets to get cheaper flights, but it’ll be interesting to see if this model works into other businesses.
The out-of-whack jet stream is proving too much for many Brits, who are leaving the UK this Easter in their droves to do some lolling about on beaches and drinking cocktails with dubious sexual names.
1.7 million disloyal splitters are heading for sunnier climes this weekend, according to ABTA. Driven away by the weird, endless, Game of Thrones-style savage winter, airports are expecting 600,000 people to leave from Heathrow, 214,000 from Gatwick, 110,000 from Stansted and 55,000 from Luton.
Meanwhile, Britain is still doing OK in the weekend break stakes, but sales of Easter camping trips are down on last year – presumably because we don’t want to be found dead in a field somewhere with our faces frozen to a Karrimor rucksack.
With the freezing weather expected to last until mid April, going on holiday this Easter feels more like a survival tactic than an unnecessary, frivolous expense.
ABTA chief executive Mark Tanzer said: ‘After two wet summers and no end in sight to the winter many Brits are desperate for some sunshine.’
No shit, Sherlock.
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office have launched a new app which is designed to stop Brits from crashing when they’re overseas. Believe it or not, foreign countries have different laws to those you’ll find in the UK.
As well as different road laws, the conditions of the roads and driving standards are wildly varied around the world. Driving your car in Thailand is nothing like driving a car through Britain.
In Thailand there were 68,852 traffic incidents resulting in 9,205 deaths while in the UK, there were a mere 1,901 people killed on the roads. See what we’re dealing with here?
“Accidents do occur and not all tragedies are avoidable, but the outcome could be very different with many lives being saved and critical injuries reduced if people adopted the same safety precautions abroad that they would naturally take at home.”
So, a load of information is being made available all under one umbrella, so now, there’s no excuse for you not knowing that, for example, in France, drivers are required to carry their own breathalyser or that in Belarus it is illegal to drive a dirty car.
Have a look at the information here and for god’s sake, don’t die.
Doctors, well known for their kind and considerate attitude towards fatties, are now WEIGHING in on airline ticketing, saying that big people should pay more for airline seats because they require more fuel to transport them.
Dr Bharat P Bhatta, from an unpronounceable college in Norway, reckons that it’s a simple matter of physics. He says: ‘Charging according to weight and space is a universally accepted principle, not only in transportation, but also in other services. As weight and space are far more important in aviation than other modes of transport, airlines should take this into account when pricing their tickets.’
He then goes on to helpfully suggest that a person weighing 60kg should pay half the fare of a passenger weighing 120kg. So basically, if you’re a big chuffer, make sure you’ve got a big wallet, too.
Dr Ian Yeoman, from the exciting sounding Journal of Revenue and Pricing Management adds: ‘Maybe airlines should be looking into introducing scales at check in.’
Thanks, heartless doctors, for your input! We can’t wait to see all those suicidal, depressed obese people getting humiliated in the Ryanair fatty scales when we go on holiday!
So is this a matter of principle? Should heavy people should pay more on planes, while folks with featherlight arses jet around the world for song? Or should we show some humanity and pay up for everyone?
It has been available in America for a while, but now Google Flights has launched in Europe so we can all compare prices of flights departing from the UK, France, Italy, Spain, and Holland.
As well as being a price comparison tool, users will be able to look at your flight options and book travel to any international airport, with searches filtered by airline, cost, total travel time and results will be displayed on a rather natty little map.
Google hasn’t actually made agreements with all the major airlines, which means that this won’t be a complete comparison service, however, it is only a matter of time before everyone’s on board with this as Google tend to get what they want in the end.
However, Ryanair and easyJet are noticeably absent, and they may well want to stick their heels in and refuse to play ball, mainly because they’re run by thundering berks.
Google said in a statement: “We are working to expand our relationship with other airlines, and bring Flight Search to more countries and in more languages.
Of course, Google Flights has competition already, with Expedia, Skyscanner and the Travel Supermarket already being big players in the market. With more competition, hopefully we’ll all be getting some decent travel bargains.
Unless Google balls it up like they did with G+ and Wave.
You know when you look at the Ryanair website and you think, ooh great, only £30 each way to go to somewhere called Zgabo, so you click on it and then a whole world of pain opens up where you have to pay £50 to take a bag and £20 to sit in a seat and £50 for fuel and £40 to get from the airport which is 5000 miles away from Zgabo?
Well that could soon be history, thanks to the Law Commission, who recommends that courts should be given new powers to stop unfair hidden charges.
At the moment, budget airlines are being coy about how much their flights actually cost in order to appear cheaper on price comparison sites. Therefore customers end up blowing their budgets before they hit ‘confirm’. The reforms would mean that companies must be more transparent about any extra costs.
But it’s not just budget airlines that might be affected by this decision – mobile phone companies, payday lenders and even wedding organisers will have to ‘fess up about their true costs.
The Government, who commissioned the report, will be looking at this as they develop a new Consumer Bill of Rights. In the meantime, make sure you have £50 handy if you want to do something crazy like TAKE A BAG ON HOLIDAY.
When you fly, it often feels like you’re about as appreciated and loved as a discarded Ryanair scratchcard. Your bags are left in Switzerland, and if you want a refund because they’ve cancelled your flight, airlines can get frostier than a wing tip at 35000 feet.
There’s already an EU directive catchily called ‘EU261’, which means that airlines have to refund cancelled flights, but often they like not to tell you about that, and let you go through the courts for compensation instead.
But thanks to new reforms proposed by the European parliament in Brussels, airlines are now going to have to behave themselves and put their bad attitude in the overhead locker.
From 2014, when the laws come into effect, airlines must book you on a rival carrier if they can’t take you to your destination within 12 hours. They also have to put you up in a hotel for a maximum of 3 days if you’re stranded. And if everything goes tits up on the tarmac, airline staff will have to give you water, put on air conditioning and open the bogs. In addition, they’ll be obliged to tell you what the hell is going on 30 mins before your flight is cancelled.
So, basically, airlines might start treating us like human beings, rather than irritating wasps with suitcases on wheels. Hurray!