I’ve been asked how have I saved money on booking this trip to Slovakia. While I wouldn’t say that it’s been a rampant series of bargains like Malta was there are some steps I’ve taken to keep the cost down.
Flights: I used Skycanner. I typed in from Manchester/Leeds to Everywhere for the dates I wanted and then selected the cheapest location that took my fancy. I never book through any of the third party agents on the site and always go direct to the airline or via TopCashback and on to the airline. If anything goes wrong with my flights I want the airline to have direct accountability. As such, while there is the possibility of utilising Expedia and their reward scheme / Nectar points for a Ryanair flight, the low return isn’t worth the hassle of needing Expedia to fix a Ryanair problem for me. No Avios for me. I preferred Ryanair charging me £99 to BA charging double that and forcing me to land in Vienna having first flown me from Leeds to Heathrow.
Airport Parking: I’ve since had offers of free parking on friends’ driveways near Leeds and Manchester airports, which is fantastic. For this trip I saved about £3 hard cash on long stay parking at Leeds Bradford Airport booking via my employer’s shopping discount site. I’d have got a similar rebate from TopCashback but occasionally things don’t track. Paying £26 now is better than paying £29 with the promise of a £3 rebate in future!
Foreign Currency: I’ve got a Halifax Clarity credit card. The two key benefits of this are no cash advance fees and no foreign currency conversion fees, and other cards like the Creation Everyday card offer similar benefits. I withdrew €310 at an ATM in Bratislava airport on arrival. This card saved me £16 compared to doing the same with “normal” credit cards and about £12 compared to sourcing currency on the high street pre-departure. The Bratislava ATM is £50 cheaper than doing the same transaction in a foreign currency ATM at Leeds Bradford airport. I’ve also got a Travelex Supercard. This does have a 2.99% fee for drawing cash overseas, but no charges for purchases. You can link it to your current account and credit card and it avoids any bank applied fees. Better still, as I get 1% cashback on one of my credit cards, I continue to earn that on Supercard by linking the cashback card to the Supercard. As for the €310, i repaid that this morning to avoid paying interest.
Hotel: I’m a big fan of the Hotels.com loyalty scheme. Book ten nights get one free. No need for brand loyalty to a faceless hotel chain, unless they’re cheaper booking direct. Whichever brand you book via Hotels.com contributes to the free night count. Again, TopCashback is central to the cost cutting approach. In the good old days the rebate was often 12%. This booking attracted 4% which gets me around £7 back on a €200 booking. Not a life changer, but it’s also 40% of a contribution to a future free night. One catch with hotels.com is that their cancellation policy often becomes non-refundable 24 hours before check-in. Most chains allow you to cancel a refundable booking on the day you intended to stop over.
I’m off to explore now. There’s a big city to see and it appears to be rather cheap to buy things out there!