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This topic contains 13 replies, has 3 voices, and was last updated by Bob Williams 3 months, 2 weeks ago.

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  • #34684

    Bob Williams
    Participant
    @bullstuff2

    Hi all you seasoned travellers, looking for advice again. (so what else is new Bob?)

    Danube River cruise booked for 2nd to 10th August, Manchester flight to and from Budapest, overnighting at Carlton Hotel Manc airport 1st Aug for an early flight. Down the Danube along one bank, back up to Budapest along the other. 30th Anniversary, best cabin we could get, putting the boat out for this do (pun intended!)

    I have been looking at travel money and have a choice as I see it between the Halifax Clarity credit card (no overseas charges) and the “WeSwap” prepaid card. Never used a prepaid, know there are alternatives, what are the experiences of other Forumite globetrotters? Our own Credit card is a TSB Platinum, with our TSB account. looking to load up to £500 cash on either card. What does The Team think?

    All advice & information gratefully received, TY guys.

    If it’s the Psychic Network why do they need a phone number?

    What’s right is what’s left if you do everything else wrong.

    If women ran the world we wouldn’t have wars, just intense negotiations every 28 days.
    --- Robin Williams

Viewing 13 replies - 1 through 13 (of 13 total)
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  • #34688

    Dave Rice
    Moderator
    @ricedg
    Forumite Points: 3,402

    I use a FairFX Euro card, you’d need an Everywhere Card.

    They are Mastercards so accepted just about everywhere and can be used in an ATM for cash at a reasonable cost. The Eurocard is 75 cents but the everywhere card also adds 1.4%. We tend to take some “starter cash” of the folding and chinking stuff. This year we have E50+ left from previous years which will do nicely.

    Off to Venice on Sunday but going via Geneva and then a train trip through the Alps. Due to the late arrival of the flight we’ll be staying a full day in Geneva (2 nights and £££ evening meals) but I shan’t worry about getting more than 100 CHF in notes. If that’s not enough the “out of currency” charge is only 1.75% and the exchange rate is better than a local kiosk . Being surrounded by France it seems lots of the “touristy” places accept Euros and the train is Italian- the Frecciargento “Silver Arrow”.

    I’ve used it all over the low countries, Austria and Germany, including ATMs and ticket terminals; never had an issue. I’ve used it on-board the ÖBB trains too, one of which was actually Czech so charged in Crowns but automatically converted to Euro at no cost (in a lot of Europe the longer cross country train routes are joint efforts, hence our Italian train – it could easily have been Swiss).

    It’s all run from an app (or a browser) and topping up is a doddle as you link a bank account to it. The online balance updates  pretty quickly too, 5 or 10 minutes was my usual experience. It’s also pretty quick updating in the other direction when you spend. I’ve never felt like I wasn’t in control.

    You can have linked cards “Family and Friends” so SWMBO can have her own which makes sense in lots of ways. We’ve done that this year. If the card goes AWOL you can use the app or a phone call to block the card and get things sorted.

    When I first got mine it was the best deal at Money Supermarket. As we’re going outside the Euro this year I had a look and believe it still is. If you decide to get one I can send you a referral code for a tenner off. You get yours instantly, I have to wait for a top up (probably won’t be long from what I’ve seen of Venice).

    PS I’ve only done a 3 hour “cruise” of the Danube – an ÖBB Wachau Valley day trip – and fully intend to do more. In which direction are you going?

    #34708

    Bob Williams
    Participant
    @bullstuff2
    Forumite Points: 4,581

    Thanks Dave, looking into that. Great advice, I expected your reply as our most regular traveller. Back as soon as I can.

    If it’s the Psychic Network why do they need a phone number?

    What’s right is what’s left if you do everything else wrong.

    If women ran the world we wouldn’t have wars, just intense negotiations every 28 days.
    --- Robin Williams

    #34711

    blacklion1725
    Participant
    @blacklion1725
    Forumite Points: 1,522

    I use the Halifax Clarity. A pleasant surprise when I got it was that you can pre-load it with credit before you travel, and so you will never risk any interest at all – even on cash withdrawals. There’s no charges at all as long as you stick to “proper” bank ATMs. My backup for European travel is a Metrobank debit card (free for everything in Europe only). Again for European travel the Nationwide Flex debit card gives zero charges for cash withdrawals while the Credit card is free for purchases (you can pre-load this one as well). In all these cases you get the Visa or Mastercard rate which is the base rate near as damn it.

    #34716

    Dave Rice
    Moderator
    @ricedg
    Forumite Points: 3,402

    Interesting but personally I don’t want another credit card (would probably be denied now anyway) or change my current account.

    It’s amazing what charges some of the other prepaid cards put on, even charging you for keeping a balance on there over X months!

    #34719

    blacklion1725
    Participant
    @blacklion1725
    Forumite Points: 1,522

    Yep get that Dave – just putting up some options.  Completely agree spending on cards abroad is an absolute minefield. I’ll probably be simplifying my cards/accounts due to my changed circumstances – the one I absolutely will keep is the Halifax.

    #34721

    Dave Rice
    Moderator
    @ricedg
    Forumite Points: 3,402

    Yes sorry, I wasn’t decrying your choices, just looking at it from a selfish point of view.

    Just got the CHF, very colourful compared to the £ or E. You certainly can’t mix them up.

    In 24 hours we’ll be taking off, I can’t wait. Hoping the weather clears up by the time we land as whichever way you approach the views should be fantastic. If not, landing during a thunderstorm could be interesting, done that before and don’t wish to again.

    We’ve been places in the last few years where my (dodgy) German can get me through, but not this time. I wish my French was better and my Italian is non existent. I’ve installed Google translate, it may come in handy! But everyone understands “2 beers please” ?

    #34722

    blacklion1725
    Participant
    @blacklion1725
    Forumite Points: 1,522

    I did French and German at school – was OK at French – hated German (harder to learn). Wish I’d stuck at one or both. Worth downloading the languages you may need for google translate if you haven’t already – won’t work for speech off line but does for typing in either direction!

    Zwei Bier Bitte – Auf Wiedersehen!

    #34728

    Bob Williams
    Participant
    @bullstuff2
    Forumite Points: 4,581

    Thanks Dave and BL, we looked at 3 choices in the end: The Everywhere card I compared with WeSwap –

    https://tinyurl.com/qcka8h7

    And there is not much to choose between them tbh. Then we looked at Credit card possibilities and Halifax Clarity stood out, even before your recommendation BL. We were also looking to find a new credit card as part of a whole rearrangement of finances. The fact that the Clarity card can be preloaded, swung it. It is not stated on the Halifax website that it can be preloaded, so your information made me look for it:

    https://tinyurl.com/y4wp6wac

    Scroll down to Halifax clarity and see this: ” Halifax Clarity – With no foreign exchange fees or charges for cash withdrawals it sounds great – but preload the card so you can avoid paying interest on the balance outstanding.Then there is this:There is another catch, withdrawing cash using a credit card is an indicator of financial strain and we have heard reports of Halifax’s automated systems kicking in and reducing credit limits so not one to use frequently.

    I think the answer is to use the Clarity card preloaded to pay for stuff and take some Euros in cash. I learned this also, from another source: ” Save time by exchanging a small amount of money before you leave for Hungary. However, it’s better in general to obtain Forints upon arrival in Hungary. The local Hungarian banks will work with better exchange rates than their counterparts abroad. ” This exchange rate opened my eyes – 1 GBP to HUF = 360.183 Hungarian Forints. Their coins were called Fills but they are no longer used as they are practically valueless. I will be going direct from airport to ship on arrival at Budapest and will only spend one day there, the last day before departure flight next day. I would like to spend that day on our own in the city, as I hate organised tours. So I will hopefully not need much local currency.

    Dave, we are leaving Budapest and sailing the Danube through Slovakia and Austria to Linz, then returning on the opposite bank. We are sailing with Riviera Travel this time, in 2015 we went with Avalon and flew BA from Heathrow to Vienna, sailed from there after a couple of days to Munich, calling at various places on the way and staying in Munich for 3 days. In 2008 we sailed the Rhine from Breisach near the Swiss border, to Holland with a smaller company and I cannot recall the name, but that was the long trip: coach from the UK, Eurostar, coach to Breisach, boat through the Rhine, coach back home.

    I recommend Avalon and Riviera, Viking I have not used but get brochures from all. A & R are really comfortable boats, especially if you pay extra and get an upper deck cabin. I like river cruising because you wake up in a different place every morning: they cruise overnight. Even the bigger boats have less passengers than the sea cruises and the atmosphere is more relaxed. Food is great, booze cheap and plentiful. Where there is a vineyard, there is always a visit!

    Best German phrase: Point to what you want to know and ask “Wass ist das auf Deutsche, bitte?” ‘What is that in German, please?’ It’s where I started all those years ago.

     

    If it’s the Psychic Network why do they need a phone number?

    What’s right is what’s left if you do everything else wrong.

    If women ran the world we wouldn’t have wars, just intense negotiations every 28 days.
    --- Robin Williams

    #34733

    Dave Rice
    Moderator
    @ricedg
    Forumite Points: 3,402

    Lovely. I don’t know if you stopped at Melk (Abbey in the Wachau Valley) last time or will this time. But in the main street the Cafe with the red awning and umbrellas is highly recommended. We’ve both eaten and drunk there. If you stop at Krems (opposite bank nearer Vienna) make sure you get the bus into the medieval town. We thought we could walk it, big mistake.

    If you’ve been to Vienna you probably know your way around, but I don’t know if you discovered the Summerkino at the Rathaus. The front of the Rathaus has a huge cinema screen, but the main attraction (for us) is the whole gardens and approach are transformed into a world wide eat and drink fest. There’s loads of seating with tables (but it does get popular) and each booth has street food from a different cuisine. Each has a bar but the event is sponsored by the Ottakring brewery so that dominates. Not bad “southern German” style lager but not as good as Munich’s. There are white wine bars too, the locals drink gallons of the stuff. The atmosphere is very laid back with all ages attending and none of the loutish behaviour you’d get here.

    Chili cheesekrainer with a proper amount of senf. No stupid plastic packets here.

     

    #34738

    blacklion1725
    Participant
    @blacklion1725
    Forumite Points: 1,522

    Bob I’ve been using the Clarity extensively for cash withdrawals for 7 years at a guess in Europe and Beyond. They have never hinted at dropping the credit limit and in fact have offered to increase it more than once – I wouldn’t worry. Withdrawing cash abroad with it is one of its main advantages – and will save a considerable some over changing-up locally before you travel. Of course you can pay for almost everything by card now, so the cash factor is less significant – but I wouldn’t be deterred by that warning in any case.

    #34749

    Bob Williams
    Participant
    @bullstuff2
    Forumite Points: 4,581

    Thank you both. Dave, yes we visited Melk Abbey in one day on the 2015 Avalon trip. I think we suffered an overabundance of walking uphill (minibus was prevented from going all the way up) and the amount of religious artefacts became a bit mind numbingly boring. Not our thing, we like castles, vineyards, good cafes, vineyards, the open air, vineyards, music and winemakers. Did I mention vineyards? On this trip we visit Melk in the morning and Durnstein in the afternoon. This time we will go off on our own and visit the small towns, taking a packed lunch from the boat or dining in town. We like to talk to locals and my German helps there, although learning the language colloquially as I did, it’s sometimes a bit difficult with another dialect. A case of   die Landbevölkerung sprach Dialekt   (the country people speak in dialect) Even the word is dialect is German, pronounced almost the same in English. Although even in the smallest, most remote places in any German-speaking area I have visited, it seems everyone speaks English. It used to embarrass me when I first started to learn in ’68, how grateful the people I met seemed to be when I used my first faltering words. We really are an ignorant nation.

    We grew to dislike some of the guided tours that we have made on these trips. Our intention is to pick and choose this time: we would rather find places for ourselves and get information from locals. We have done Vienna to death a bit previously, last time the guide was a very fit young Austrian lady who proceeded at great pace in a hectic trot: “This is ____ – it has ____ and ___ ” Took no regard of the fact that there were elderly and some disabled people strung out in a line behind her. In the end I used my old parade ground voice: LANGSAME BITTE! (Slow Down Please!) She turned and realised that she might be held responsible for some heart attacks. We don’t bother with the usual Beethoven/Strauss/Cathedrals/baroque architecture thing now. Thanks for the tips about the Summerkino, we’ll visit that, sounds good. I can’t drink beer now, but I remember Ottakring. As you say, not bad, but my favourite Austrian beer was Adambräu, a Tiroller brew. Many years ago I introduced a quite serious, solemn mate to it and told him to take it easy. He took to it a bit too well and wound up dancing on tables in an Innsbruck bierkeller. The white wine will do for me and my SWMBO and if they have Eiskaffee that’s a bonus. Last time I visited Austria for an extended holiday was two weeks in Zell am See, which I recommend. Our last night was in our favourite small bar, full of young local people who asked us as we were about to leave, what I thought of Austria and Austrians – ” in English, please.” I thought for a moment and replied “Austrians, Junge Leute are Germans with a sense of humour.” (Young people) It brought the house down! Next morning there were half a dozen young locals from the bar, carrying our luggage to the bus station. I make a pretty fair ambassador sometimes!

    BL thanks for that, I will sort out the Clarity Card tomorrow. You have taken some worry from my mind with your last, cheers mate!

    If it’s the Psychic Network why do they need a phone number?

    What’s right is what’s left if you do everything else wrong.

    If women ran the world we wouldn’t have wars, just intense negotiations every 28 days.
    --- Robin Williams

    #34765

    Dave Rice
    Moderator
    @ricedg
    Forumite Points: 3,402

    The specialist wine booths are out in the gardens, plenty of seating but of the park bench variety and the odd pagoda. The local weiner gemischter satz (a blend of grapes grown in the city limits) is very good. A Kaiser Spritzer (it has elderflower added) is nice on a hot day. Gotta take a hint from the locals ?

    #34766

    Bob Williams
    Participant
    @bullstuff2
    Forumite Points: 4,581

    Thanks Dave, the Kaiser Spritzer will suit SWMBO. My FIL used to make his own wine and beer, using water from the tributary stream of the River Poulter that ran through his garden and elderberries/flowers, blackcurrants, blackberries, raspberries in the huge garden. My missus was his favourite of 3 girls* and used to love his elderflower cordial.

    *She helped him build a wall around the whole place, carried out DIY jobs with him, etc. Refuses DIY for me though. But I now realise who junior gdaughter takes after. Neither of them are ‘girly’, both were tomboys when young.

    If it’s the Psychic Network why do they need a phone number?

    What’s right is what’s left if you do everything else wrong.

    If women ran the world we wouldn’t have wars, just intense negotiations every 28 days.
    --- Robin Williams

Viewing 13 replies - 1 through 13 (of 13 total)

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