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How to use tech to stretch your vacation dollars

This article is more than 12 months old

Learn ways to help you make the most of your travel budget

Many Singaporeans are crazy about travel.

Millennials, especially, are willing to spend more for experiences and comfort.

According to a study by travel intelligence firm Adara, 79 per cent of millennials prioritise travel above other expenses and are more willing to pay for flight and hotel upgrades than Gen X travellers.

So they are always on the lookout for the best deals.

Though technology is making world travel easier (thank you Google Maps), most of us still pay more than we need to when crossing borders, particularly when converting currency and making international payments.

Here are some ways you can use technology to get the most bang for your travel buck.

CLOSELY WATCH THE EXCHANGE RATE

Exchange rates fluctuate for a huge variety of reasons. It's almost impossible to forecast currency rates and just as hard to keep an eye on them regularly.

Frequent travellers can use digital services and applications to track exchange rates.

For example, TransferWise exchange rate alerts provide notifications when the exchange rate moves in your favour.

Though technology is making world travel easier (thank you Google Maps), most of us still pay more than we need to when crossing borders, particularly when converting currency and making international payments.

When this happens, you can take advantage of the opportunity to book prepaid holiday items, load up a prepaid travel card, or send money overseas to have a friend withdraw it for you.

Changing money when rates are in your favour means you get the best value out of your set budget before the trip commences.

SPEND WITHOUT HIDDEN CHARGES OR POOR EXCHANGE RATES

While credit cards offer significant convenience and safety, be wary of the fine print when using a local card overseas as many come with hidden foreign exchange costs charged by banks.

According to recent TransferWise research, close to 70 per cent of Singapore respondents were unaware that major financial providers mark up the exchange rate when international payments are made.

Prepaid travel cards can offer better deals than a local credit card, though they often come with upfront fees and poor exchange rates.

But exchanging and carrying cash when travelling is not the only way to get the most value out of our Sing dollar.

New financial technology or fintech solutions and innovations are making this difficulty a thing of the past.

For example, TransferWise's new Borderless account enables businesses and consumers to have bank account details in four countries and hold up to 40 currencies in one account - which means no more pesky foreign exchange costs or long queues at money changers.

A related debit card recently launched in the UK and Europe means you can spend anywhere with lower costs than ever before. TransferWise is bringing its Borderless debit card to Singapore soon.

PLAN AHEAD WITH LOCAL APPS TO HELP YOU SAVE

We all love a good app but few of us use every app we have on our phones. So while it is common knowledge that downloading food and transportation apps can help savvy travellers save costs, how do we know which apps are useful in different countries?

The key to getting the best travel deals is to understand which apps locals use. It is all about planning ahead and researching the available services.

Ride-sharing apps such as Grab help us to get our way around cities, but when you're in Indonesia, local app Go-Jek will offer among the cheapest rides, while in China Didi Chuxing is a cheaper option.

For dining options, we're familiar with services such as Yelp and Zagat, but not all countries use these apps widely, so recommendations may not always reflect the cheapest options.

For example, the Japanese often use Tabelog instead to search and rank restaurants.

To avoid coming back with a crippling bill, travellers can use budget tracking apps or available services to keep track of their daily spending patterns to stay within budget.

Our advice to the value-hunting Singaporean: keep a lookout for the latest technologies available to help stretch your vacation dollar to the fullest.

The writer is TransferWise Senior Product Manager, Asia.

TOURISM & TRAVEL