We wish you a relaxing and safe holiday season. Whether you’re travelling or simply spending time at home, here’s a quick checklist to ensure your financial safety and a stress-free holiday.
Protect your home
- Don’t leave your home alone: Try to find a competent house sitter or have a friend or family member check on your home regularly. Also alert your security company that you’re going to be away.
- Give your alarm system a health check: Check that your alarm is working and ringing through to your security company. Consider replacing your alarm sensors’ batteries if they’re old.
- Take safety measures: Unplug all electronic equipment to protect it from electricity surges and lightning strikes. Switch off all your geysers. You’ll save electricity and protect yourself from the risk of a burst or leaking pipe. Ensure that your pipes, drains and gutters are cleared of debris and leaves so that water can flow freely through and off your property.
- Use your credit card for bookings: All banks offer free travel insurance when you book your airline ticket using your credit card. Basic travel insurance covers emergency expenses, legal assistance and even theft or delayed luggage. You will also be refunded if the airline goes under before or during your trip.
- Comply with FICA: When applying for currency, you have to prove your identity. Take your ID, passport, proof of residency and ticket with you when you go to the bank. Also remember that by law you need to cash in your unused currency within 30 days of returning to South Africa.
- Inform the bank: Notify your bank when you’re travelling so they don’t block your card if they become concerned about transactions from unusual locations.
- Inform your medical scheme: Your medical scheme will also provide cover while you’re travelling outside the country. Inform them of your trip and get the relevant contact details.
- Leave a paper trail: Leave the details of your credit card and passport with a partner or close friend at home. If you need to report them stolen, you’ll have access to the relevant information.
- Watch your cash flow: Use a separate card for pre-authorisation. Hotels and car rental companies block funds on your card as part of a pre-authorisation process to ensure that the funds are available when you come to pay. They usually only unblock these funds several days after you’ve paid, limiting the amount you have to spend on the rest of your trip.
- Use point of sale: No transaction fees apply if you use your credit card at a merchant, so this is the cheapest way to spend, and you don’t have the risk of carrying cash. But remember to pay money into your card before you travel so you’re not returning to a massive credit card bill.
- Watch withdrawal costs: If you do want to draw cash, rather withdraw in larger denominations to cut your transaction costs. There is a cost to drawing cash, which includes the currency conversion fee, your bank’s transaction fee and the foreign bank’s fee. The foreign bank charges an additional fee for using their ATM network of around two dollars or two euros.
Prepare for a long journey
If you’re planning a long road trip this holiday, make sure your car is up the task. Give your vehicle a full service before you travel, and check oil, water and tyre pressure before you start your journey. Tyre pressure should be checked after your car is fully loaded as per the manufacturer’s recommendation based on your load.
The Automobile Association recommends you carry the following emergency items:
• Fire extinguisher
• First aid kit
• Aerosol tyre inflator containing gas and latex to seal punctures
• Jump leads
• Tow rope
• Spare ignition keys, preferably stored in a magnetic case somewhere on the outside of the car, e.g. behind a bumper or inside a hubcap
• Warning triangle
• Strong adhesive tape
• Wheel spanner
• Compact tool box
• Vehicle technical handbook