5 more travel tricks you never knew existed
We all love travel, but there’s just one problem: it gets a little expensive. The good news is, travel these days doesn’t have to cost a bomb. There are plenty of ways to lower the cost! A few months ago, we uncovered our top five travel tricks and it was a hit! Here are five more of our favourites.
1. Avoid converting currency when you buy overseas
When you use your credit card overseas, the transaction may involve something called Dynamic Currency Conversion. This means the credit card will convert your currency, at an exchange rate you can’t see (that should raise some red flags!)
On top of that, you’ll be charged a fee for currency conversion. These vary based on the card and bank, but it can go as high as three per cent of the price. This eats into any discounts or rewards – there’s no point getting three per cent cashback, for instance, if you’re charged three per cent for currency conversion.
One way to lower the cost is to always pay using the local currency, rather than in your home currency (this option will be presented to you on the credit card machine). You’ll still face administrative charges, but the exchange rate tends to be more favourable.
Alternatively, you could try opening a Multi-Currency Account (MCA). This allows you to store different types of currency, so you don’t need to convert it whenever you’re abroad. This could be more useful if you frequently travel to a given country.
For example, if you often travel to Australia, you could open an MCA that lets you hold both Singapore dollars and Australian dollars. You can spend the Australian dollars when you’re down under, without currency conversion charges.
Remember to compare between banks for the best offers, when looking for MCAs.
2. Use TravelersBox on your way back from your holiday
TravelersBox is a new(ish) start-up, that helps you with your leftover change. We all tend to come back from abroad with loose notes and coins, perhaps $10 or $15 in foreign currency. It can be hard to change these, not least because some money changers refuse to handle coins.
TravelersBox kiosks – there are eight of them scattered around Changi Airport – allows you to convert these small amounts to digital cash. This can be spent with companies like:
- Amazon (China and Japan)
Hey, spending it on the Grab ride home is more useful than stashing it in your sock drawer.
3. Research and compare air-fares
Airline prices are the last unsolved mystery. Almost no one can predict them, and they follow their own bizarre logic. It’s important to always check on air-fare comparison sites, such as Skyscanner, Kayak, Priceline, etc. for the best deals.
Note that the same air ticket can be priced differently on various sites. We can’t even begin to explain why (something to do with jet fuel prices and seating allocation algorithms). The important thing is that it pays to do the research.
You can also use price comparison sites to find “hacker fares” (the website Kayak can do this automatically). Hacker fares are when you buy two single-trip tickets, from two different carriers, as opposed to a round-trip ticket from a single carrier.
For example, you could buy a one-way ticket to Tokyo with KLM, and then another one-way ticket back to Singapore with Delta. The total cost may be a bit cheaper than buying a round-trip ticket.
4. Fly during off-peak periods
Much like Grab or Uber, there’s a “surge” pricing with airlines. The most expensive times to fly are during the holiday season, which stretches from November early January. If you can, try to beat the holiday crowd by leaving a little earlier or later.
Day and time also count. Flights tend to be cheaper on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays, at around the midday period (between 11.30am to 2.30pm).
5. Check out free walking tours
Most cities will organise heritage tours, as part of their own tourism initiative. Be on the lookout for these “walking tours” – the guides are often knowledgeable (most are passionate locals), and you get to see interesting places that may not show up in a guidebook.
The best part is, many of these types of tours are free. Ask the hotel concierge about where to find them.
One note of caution though: local businesses sometimes sponsor these tours, as a way to bring in shoppers. Don’t hesitate to walk away, if the tour takes you into too many shops where high pressure tactics are applied.
6. Bonus tip: use Mileslife to gather more bonus miles
Mileslife is an app, that allows you to accelerate your accumulation of bonus miles. Shop or eat at select places, and you’ll gain bonus miles on top of what your credit card already gives you – the app will clearly display the bonuses for different participating merchants.
While you’re at it, don’t forget to check out some of the best air miles cards in the market. For example, if you apply for the American Express KrisFlyer credit card on GoBear, you can get 5,000 air miles immediately upon your first spend. You’ll also get 2 KrisFlyer per dollar charged to the card.
With the right air miles card, you can save thousands of dollars on seat upgrades, or even get free trips. Check out GoBear.com for more details.
Choosing insurance and financial products was once a complicated and dull process. It was filled with tricks and different terms and conditions. Andre Hesselink didn’t think that was fair. He thought comparing insurance and financial products should be simple, straight forward and transparent. So, with the help of like-minded people, they solved this problem, leading us to GoBear.