Life in fast-paced Singapore can be brutal, and everyone needs time away to recharge.
But saving up for that long-awaited vacation can be tricky, since it is not easy to gauge exactly how much everything is going to cost.
The good news is there are ways you can make life a little easier – and cheaper – when it comes to going on holidays.
There are mainly three cost components when travelling: flights, accommodation and food. In all these areas, there is “currency” you can earn that reduces your cash outlay.
Switch to an air miles credit card
Singaporeans are hooked on cashback credit cards. To the average consumer, earning a small kickback every time they swipe their card is reward enough.
But what the smart traveller wants instead is a healthy amount of air miles in your account, which you can then use to redeem free flights and accommodation. That is two out of the three travel costs covered.
Start by switching to an air miles credit card, which gives you miles when you spend locally and overseas (you will get bonus miles for the latter).
UOB PRVI Miles gives you 1.4 miles for every $1 spent locally – the highest base air miles earn rate on the market. And the bank just lowered the card’s salary requirement to $30,000 a year, opening up an air miles bonanza to a good many people.
Next, maximise your points by making full use of promotions, such as booking through Expedia or Agoda to earn bonus miles – yes, that on top of your basic earn rate.
Same thing with the MilesLife app. Download and use it to get bonus miles on a slew of lifestyle spending categories, such as dining, activities, events and even spa visits.
One more advantage of using an air miles card – you often get complimentary travel insurance, which will come in useful in the face of unfortunate events such as losing your luggage or flight cancellation and delay.
Coverage varies widely among different air mile cards, so be sure to check before you apply.
Choose your hotel loyalty programme carefully
If you find yourself spread thin trying to cover both flights and accommodation using air miles alone, an alternative would be to invest in a good hotel loyalty programme.
There are many hotel loyalty programmes out there that can provide a host of benefits, such as free upgrades, welcome services, discounts on – and even free – rooms.
The best loyalty programme may be one that lets you bank up a series of free nights, to be used at any hotel you like, anywhere in the world.
Hotels.com’s hotel search and reservations app has a refreshingly simple rewards programme: Book 10 nights through the app and get one night free.
The value of your free night is an average across all the 10 nights you have booked. The best thing is, you can use the free night at any eligible hotel.
This reward mechanism would just be so-so if it were not for the fantastic member’s prices you will unlock as you go along.
Use this to your advantage by offering to book friends’ and family’s accommodation using your Hotels.com account, especially if you qualify for a promotional price on the hotel they want.
Booking multiple rooms this way will help you reach your minimum requirement of 10 nights at a quick pace. And, if you are sharing rooms, you will raise the overall value of your eventual free night.
Once you have racked up those free nights, redeem them to give yourself a much-needed pampering at that boutique hotel you have been Insta-stalking.
Store travel money in a multi-currency account
With flights and accommodation taken care of, the next thing you need is moolah.
Between bills and unforeseen expenses, it can be hard to come up with the cash you will need for your vacation.
And there is nothing worse than going on holiday without quite enough money.
To help prevent this regrettable situation (and to avoid overseas ATM fees), consider applying for a multi-currency account (MCA).
You can then withdraw the currency you need when you get to your holiday destination. Some banks even waive the foreign exchange fees.
Get an MCA and regularly put aside a small amount in the currency of your top three vacation countries. This will ensure you have a steady pool of funds that you can use when you are on vacation.
And because out of sight is out of mind, your travel funds are more likely to be preserved.
This article first appeared on Her World Online (www.HerWorld.com)
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