Should I use my Credit Card Abroad?

If you are going abroad on holiday you may wonder what the best way is to pay for things. There are different methods that you can use including a credit card and it is worth thinking about what might work the best for you.

Credit Card

Using your credit card can be very convenient. You will find that most shops will accept a credit card form any country because they will be able to process the payment like they would any other credit card. It means that you can shop in the same way that you probably do at home which will make it very easy to use. Credit card issuers are careful to protect you against fraud, so if you do not normally use your card abroad, make sure that you tell them that you will be. If you do not, they may freeze your card and this could mean that you are left with no way to pay for anything which could make things really difficult. Even if you do tell them, it could be wise to take their phone number or have a way to contact them online so you can get in touch with them in case there is some sort of problem.

The big disadvantage of using the card abroad is the cost. Many cards will charge fees for using the cards abroad though and this means that you could end up paying extra. This could be done by them giving you an unfavourable exchange rate – adding up to 3% on top so they can get the extra. If you use the credit card to withdraw cash you will start to be charged interest immediately, even if you pay off the full balance of money you owe each month, so bear that in mind as well.

Debit Card

This is likely to be accepted in shops in the same way as a credit card and can be used to withdraw cash. However, it is often cheaper to use it compared with a credit card but may not be acceptable everywhere and will not give you the insurance you get with a credit card. You will need to check though as the costs will vary between different cards and you will need to make sure that yours is cheaper, if you intend on using it.

Prepaid Travel Card
 

A prepaid travel card will allow you to pay money on to it before you travel and then spend it, like a credit card while you are away. When you credit them you lock in the exchange rate, which means that you can do it well in advance if you think that it is likely to get less favourable as you get nearer to the time of travel. Like credit cards, they are more secure than carrying cash and they are accepted in most shops. They can be a handy way to budget more easily on holiday as you will have a certain amount of money to spend and you will not be able to spend more than that.

Travellers Cheques

These may seem a bit old fashioned but they are a secure way to carry money abroad. You will have to find somewhere to exchange them for cash, but most big resorts will provide a facility that will be able to do that for you. Shop around for them though as you will find that the rates will vary so you may pay more than necessary if you do not search for the best price.

Cash / Currency

It is a good idea to have cash available in the local currency. This is because there may be some things that you can only buy with cash. Perhaps market stalls, small shops or even taxis may need payment by cash. This means that having some will be good. Shop around for a good exchange rate and try to avoid getting it at the airport as it is always more expensive there. Taking some with you can be cheaper than drawing it out abroad. You may be able to make cash withdrawals with your debt card but there will be a charge and you could use your credit card which will be even more expensive but you could find that it will be more secure than carrying lots of cash.

The options can be a bit confusing and unfortunately there is not one cheaper option that is secure and works for every situation. It will probably be the case that you will need to pick a mixture of options to suit your needs.

How to Learn New Things for Free

Learning new things can be beneficial for us in many ways. It might be able to help us to improve our career and it might also be fun and just generally improve our outlook and knowledge. However, courses are often expensive but there are ways that you can learn things for free which could be worth looking in to.

Through your Company

The first thing to try is to see whether the company that you are working for will be willing to pay for you to do a course. Some companies regularly pay for their employees to do courses as long as it is relevant to their jobs. This means that you might be able to do something through your work. So, find out what you can do. Ask your team leader about it and see if anything is currently available or whether they might be willing to pay for courses that you select that you feel would be helpful for you. They might appreciate the fact that you are being keen and wanting to improve yourself as well and this might make them more likely to pay for a course for you.

Through Your Local College

Most local colleges will offer some courses for free. These will not necessarily be open to everyone, but they might to help people with certain skills. You may find, for example that there are classes to help with numeracy and literacy but also with certain career based skills such as social care or computing. It is worth checking out their website or giving them a call to see what they are offering. You may even be able to do the courses online, which could be more convenient for you, especially if you do not live that close to the college or have family commitments.

At University

Every person is entitled to four years of higher education. This used to be offered free through the student grants system. Now you have to borrow the money through a student loan, but it could still be free. You can only apply for a student loan or any other type of quick finance, if you have not used one before or if you have not had a grant. You can choose from many different courses and you will only have to repay the loan if you earn enough to pay the graduate tax rate. This means the course may not be free, but it is affordable as you will not have to pay for it if you do not earn enough money. It is worth considering this though, as it can be really useful and could lead to a better paid job or a fun career change.

Through EdX and FutureLearn

There are two main sites online where you can do courses for free. These tend to be taster courses but they can be really useful. You will be able to use them to learn about things that perhaps you have always wanted to know about or things that will be useful for your hobby or job. The FutureLearn site is UK based, although it does have courses from universities all over the world and the EdX site is based in the USA. Both are starting to have some courses that you have to pay for, but many are still free. You will have the opportunity to pay for a certificate to show that you have completed the course. Whether you want one of these will depend on whether you feel you will need to prove you have the knowledge, perhaps to a potential employer. There is certainly no need to buy it, so it can be free if you want it to be.

Through Various Websites

There are also opportunities for learning through a lot of different websites. You will find that you will be able to find out all sorts of different information. The problem with looking at general websites is that you will find that you will not know if the information on them is actually correct as anyone can put anything on a website. This means that you need to be really careful about where you are getting the information from. You will also have no certificate or anything to prove that you have done the training. However, it all depends what you want to learn. If you want to know some things for a hobby or even practical skills, perhaps for fixing your car or home, then you will not need any proof that you can do it, as you will be just using it for yourself.