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Here are some tips to avoid sneaky travel costs and travel like a boss!

How to avoid sneaky travel costs

And travel like a boss.

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It’s travel season! Are you someone who buys tickets late to cash in on last-minute deals, or are you an early bird who starts planning for your travels a year in advance? Whichever end of the spectrum you land, you definitely understand that tingling sensation when you spot a good buy. 

But how do you know when it’s the real deal? We’ve all experienced it - we click through with excitement, then feel progressively deflated as add-on fees get piled on each step of the checkout process. By the way, there is a term for that: “drip pricing!” 

We’re here with a couple of tips on how to make these drips slide off like water off a duck’s back. For you more seasoned travellers out there be sure to drop us a line and tell us your travel tips and tricks! #CaringIsSharing

Beware the drips! 

You’ve probably got a sense of what drip pricing is, but let’s break it down. This sales technique involves airlines advertising the lowest price from which customers can score a ticket before “dripping” in the additional bits. Here are some examples of drip pricing:

Do you need to pay to check in your bags? Some airlines separate check-in baggage fees from the flight quote you get while others offer different classes of tickets that may or may not include these fees. According to an estimate by Airline revenue consultancy IdeaWorksCompany and global B2B mobility solutions firm CarTrawler, airlines worldwide made a whopping US$33 billion on bags in 2023, up 15% from the year before

Here are a couple of tips to avoid that situation of desperately turning on the charm when you get to the check-in counter: 

  • Before your trip, check your credit card and frequent flyer programmes for potential check-in perks. Make sure you know what your baggage limits are for your flight before your trip and pack light!
  • For those shoppers out there, consider packing a portable weighing scale. They weigh almost nothing and might save you some awkward repacking at the airport at the end of your trip. 

Seat selections are not mandatory so feel free to locate the “skip” button! You might not get the seat you want (especially if you’re travelling in a group) but there’s also a small chance you might get an upgrade. 

Here are a couple of tips to try and improve your chances of getting a good seat: 

  • Chances are generally higher the airline will seat you together if you book your flights together. To increase your chances of getting the seats you want, be sure to check in early!
  • If your flight isn’t full, there is a chance the airline may bump you up into a more premium seat. Be nice and ask with a smile! You just might find yourself reclining into a more comfortable seat. 

Keep track of those hidden transaction fees

When you travel overseas, the extra (hidden) fees that you incur when you use your debit or credit card overseas can balloon quite quickly and more often than not, take you by surprise. These include foreign transaction fees and international ATM fees. 

Or do you travel in a more analogue manner and go to your favourite money changer/start the tour of money changers the week before your trip? 

Whichever floats your boat, here are a couple of hidden charges you might not know about and ways to navigate them:

  • When going to a money changer, be sure to find out what the latest currency rates are beforehand. There are a range of online sources that pull this data from financial data providers and central banks which can give you a good gauge of how much you should be paying. There are also multiple online forums where you can find crowd-sourced recommendations for the best money changers.
  • Drawing money at the destination country’s ATM? You may have to pay an overseas cash withdrawal service fee. Be sure to check your bank’s website for the full T&Cs and where possible use an ATM that is owned by your bank or partner bank to avoid withdrawal fees. If you really really have no other choice, consider withdrawing a larger amount. This does not mean you have to travel with a thick wad of physical cash! 
  • Buying a nice souvenir with your debit or credit card? Most banks will charge a foreign exchange fee which includes a currency conversion charge (by the card association i.e. Visa/Mastercard/UnionPay/American Express) and a bank administration fee. By the way, depending on which card association you use, the foreign currency you are paying in might be converted to US Dollar before being converted to Singapore Dollar. This means you’re paying for the currency exchange not once, but twice. 

This does not mean you have to travel with a thick wad of physical cash! 

Flex with your GXS Debit Card! We like the idea of using the GXS Debit Card because it keeps your transactions in one place for easy reference and best of all, the GXS Debit Card does not charge foreign transaction fees. We also do not  add any additional exchange rate markups on the rate charged by Mastercard*. 

An additional bonus? Your GXS Debit Card comes free with your GXS Savings Account so why not use those Saving Pockets to start planning for your next holiday? Money you put in your Saving Pockets earns 2.68 per cent per annum and interest is credited daily to help you  get to where you need to go faster*. 

So before you say yes to that trip, accelerate your savings and say no to hidden costs!

How local can you go?

Go with an appetite for local cuisine, not airport cuisine: Experienced the (pun-intended) sky-high prices of food and a bottle of water at airports? You’re not imagining it, this has become such an issue that in 2022, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey announced measures to cap prices so that vendors aren’t allowed to charge more than 10 per cent over street prices. Good on them! 

Get around it by: 

  • Eating before you head to the airport - after all you should be indulging in local cuisine and not airport cuisine! By the way, check out how Gen Zs find the best food spots and travel in this piece.
  • For water, bring a reusable bottle with you that you can fill up at water cooler stations. 

*As of 21 May 2024. For the latest updates, please go to the GXS website and click on the Save/Spend tabs.

Psst! Here's something else you should know!

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