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How to pay for your wedding abroad

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One in five British couples are getting married abroad to cut costs without sacrificing quality, but many are losing out by overlooking their options when making overseas payments.

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There are many reasons to get married abroad, from a shorter guest list to a warmer climate. It can also be a way to cut your budget and spend less on the day. There are different ways to pay for foreign weddings and you may be charged more or less depending on how you pay. We look at how to make the most of your money when planning a wedding in a different country.

The cheapest way to pay for your wedding

A wedding involves paying lots of different suppliers for goods and services. If they are in a different country, you could choose to pay them by credit or debit card, a bank transfer or with cash.

There are usually fees for each method, so take the time to compare costs before you part with any money. The foreign exchange market is competitive so you should be able to find a card with zero fees or hidden costs. If it’s cash your supplier is asking for, always work out the cheapest way of transferring the money. It may seem like a small amount each time, but the fees for transfers can really add up over time.

Cut your costs with zero transaction fees

Weddings are costly when you factor in everything from the cake to the venue, but the cost of transferring money to pay for these necessities can add even more. Poor exchange rates and hidden charges could mean you end up spending more than you need to.

If you take money with you to transfer, you’ll be faced with two problems:

  • You've got to get it there

  • You've got to change it into the local currency

You could avoid these issues by using a credit or debit card, but if you must make cash payments, compare prices and find a foreign exchange provider with a highly competitive exchange rate and zero transaction fees.

Don't lose out to a poor exchange rate

Never go with the first exchange rate you find - look around and compare prices, instead.

Specialist currency providers are able to send out emails to notify you when they have a great rate or when the markets turn in your favour.

Use comparison sites to help you understand the best offers - they'll often break down the positive and negative aspects of particular money transfers abroad, but it's still worthwhile taking a look each morning to check if the market is improving. This is especially important when the economy is turbulent, as it is at the moment in the wake of the coronavirus crisis. 

Uncover hidden fees

Before you transfer money, or even take it out of an ATM or use a card to pay for something, always check how much a provider will charge you. There may be different fees depending on the amount you’re spending, especially if it’s a large amount. 

By knowing a provider's limits, you may be better off paying a lump sum instead of smaller, frequent payments where you'll incur a charge each time.

Pay in another currency?

Check with the service supplier and see if you can pay in another currency.

For example, some beneficiaries will accept US Dollars, and if the rate is far more favourable than paying in X, Y or Z, it may be better to pay in a currency where you'll get more for your money. Don't assume, always ask and weigh up your options.

Talk to the experts

If you need assistance, do not hesitate to contact a currency provider directly and get some expert advice.

Most reputable money transfer providers don't charge for their support, so make use of it.

Check their website to see if a dealing service is advertised, then request the help of a broker to feel confident that you've got the best deal and relieve yourself of the work. If you are using a wedding planner, they may also be able to advise you on the cheapest way of paying for your wedding.

Forward contracts minimise your risk

Forward contracts are an excellent way to avoid risk and lock in your exchange rates.

Essentially, forward contracts let you book an exchange rate today for a future date. They are usually available up to a year in advance, or even longer in exceptional circumstances.

A few variations of the product are available, depending on specific needs, but all offer the following:

  • A means of locking an exchange rate in on the day in question, for a future 'delivery' date

  • A way to avoid adverse movements in the FX market - ensuring that you can accurately budget for an upcoming transaction

  • Add-on pro-active 'rate watch' and 'limit order' services

Take a prepaid card

If you know you're going to be making smaller payments abroad in person, then a prepaid card instead could be a good idea.

Prepaid cards are convenient and easy to use, but you'll be getting a better rate of exchange on something that works like a debit card.

Reputable prepaid currency card providers offer cards that are Chip & PIN protected, providing additional protection compared to cash. And if the card is lost or stolen, the potential loss is limited.

Currency cards can be used all over the world - at ATMs, online, anywhere you see the card issuer symbol for MasterCard® or VISA.

Fix your rate by topping up at a time that suits you. Some providers offer an accompanying mobile app, so you can top-up on the go when the rates are favourable and use it to pay for small purchases abroad.

Don't forget your family and friends

Most currency card providers offer 'Family and Friends' cards, an easy way to share funds on your accounts with a family member or friend aged 13 or over.

You still load and manage the cards by linking them to your existing account, which gives you complete control and flexibility in sharing funds.

Move funds from your existing card in the same currency rather than through a top-up. You can also move funds back from your Family and Friends Card to your card in the same currency.

Standard cards last at least two years so if you have any remaining funds don't worry, you can use them on the honeymoon too.

Finding the right loan to pay for your wedding can save you a lot of cash in the long run, so find the right deal around by comparing the best personal loans around.

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