As thousands of Aussies pack their bags and prepare to venture overseas during the Christmas period, Commonwealth Bank has revealed that holidays are costing more than they expect. Last year 9.2 million Aussies left Australian shores for a holiday1, and with a third of them spending more than planned on their trip, that’s more than $900 million of overspending on international travel2.
As we enter the holiday season, the CommBank research highlights the traps Aussie holidaymakers fall into and how the right products and planning can help them avoid overspending during their summer holidays.
Holiday planning and budgeting
Aussies devote around seven months planning their overseas holiday, spending an average of 16 hours planning their itinerary, booking flights and sorting accommodation. However, almost half of people admit to travelling without setting any budget or planning how much they want to spend. For those who do crunch the numbers before they leave, nearly half spend one hour or less planning budgets. When it comes to knowledge around protecting yourself while overseas, millions of Aussies (22 per cent) don’t know you can get travel insurance included through some credit cards and a quarter didn’t have any insurance on their last overseas holiday.
Clive van Horen, Executive General Manager Retail Products and Strategy, Commonwealth Bank said; “For those dreaming of a white Christmas or sunny getaway, make sure you allow enough time to plan your overseas spending – do your research so you have an idea of how much things should cost, and set a realistic budget.”
“Travel insurance is also vital when going on holidays. Some CommBank credit cards have travel insurance included, so check this first and make sure you know what you are covered for.”
Setting a budget isn’t top of the Aussie travel checklist and neither is watching exchange rates. The research found 55 per cent of people only change currency just before or while they are already on holiday – not surprisingly a quarter of people who spend more than planned on holidays are negatively impacted by exchange rates either from rates changing before they leave for holidays or by miscalculating exchange rates.
While planning and budgeting is important, so too is managing money during the holiday itself. More than half of people only check their spending on an ad hoc basis or don’t check until after the trip. Despite a shift to online banking, when checking spending overseas, more than a third of people who actively check still use hard copy records and spreadsheets, missing out on the ability to check purchase costs in real-time.
More than three quarters of travellers say convenience is the most important part of accessing and managing their money while overseas – knowing fees, charges and exchange rates, having flexibility around money withdrawals and being able to manage multiple currencies quickly and easily. Keeping safe from fraud was a top priority for around a quarter of those surveyed.
Mr van Horen said there are some easy ways to avoid unwanted financial surprises and mishaps.
“As payment methods vary from country to country, it’s always advisable to carry local currency alongside your credit, debit and pre-paid travel card. If possible, don’t have all spending options with you at once so you’re not left high and dry if the worst does happen, especially as overseas banks are often closed during the holiday period. If it unfortunately does, CommBank has a range of options to support travellers. We have 24 hour credit card assistance and our Travel Money Cards come with two cards so if you do misplace one you’ll have a backup.”
“Customers using the CommBank app can use the Lock feature to help secure their credit or Travel Money Card/s if they are lost, stolen or temporarily misplaced. The CommBank app also allows you to lock international in-store payments on your credit card when you return home, so you can be assured your credit card isn’t being used overseas when you aren’t,” Mr van Horen said.
The CommBank app also shows transaction costs in real-time, allows reloading of Travel Money Cards and has a foreign currency converter.
To find out more information about CommBank’s travel offering, including travel insurance and the Travel Money Card, visitcommbank.com.au/travel