For holiday makers both young and old, cruises continue to grow in popularity. Seen by many as the perfect holiday, cruises provide the chance to visit multiple locations, enjoy the fresh sea air, and revel in a one stop shop for great entertainment, food, and activities.
When it comes to budgeting, to ensure you can relax and make the most of your time aboard, there’s plenty of planning to do ahead of your trip to ensure you don’t get caught out.
Harboring in several countries can sometimes mean having to spend and pay in multiple currencies, so you’ll want a means of tracking the currency exchange to help accurately calculate your budget. Additionally, depending on what cruise package you’ve booked, you’ll need to factor in your additional spend, both on board and during any visits to local destinations whilst docked.
But before any of that comes, one of your first big decisions about your cruise is how to actually pay for it. While cruises offer great value for money, they are still a considerable expense, and choosing how to pay is a decision that can save you a significant amount of money.
So whether it’s a few extra cocktails on board, or splashing out on some new evening wear for those magical cruise dinners, it’s worth being smart about how you choose to pay as you could end up making some serious savings.
Is the Cruise Operator in Your Home Country?
This is one of the first big factors when considering your payment options. If you’re paying in your local currency in your home country, you’ll avoid having to calculate exchange rates, and also likely avoid any card fees. As such, you might want to consider paying with your debit/credit card, seeing as there should be relatively low or no fees.
This is especially true for UK/EU residents, as local operators are not allowed to charge any extra transaction fees for using a credit card. Bear in mind, however, that your credit limit on your card may not be enough to cover the total, so you might have to explore other payment methods.
Is the Cruise Operator Overseas?
If you’re paying in another currency or to a firm overseas, beware of using your credit card, as this is where fees and exchange rates can really start to pile up, costing you more than you might expect. Often calculated on a percentage basis, using your credit card can incur a foreign transaction fee from your banking provider (averaging 3%), a FX exchange fee if paying in another country (between 0.25-6%), and if outside the UK/EU, your cruise operator may also charge a card processing fee (roughly 3%).
It’s clear to see how in the above circumstances, it may be in one’s interest to pay for your cruise via international bank transfer.
But beware as doing a transfer with traditional banks can also incur a number of fees, so consider using a specialist money transfer service provider if you want to incur as little fees as possible.
If you are paying for your cruise in a foreign currency, do your research and compare FX rates to understand how competitive the rate offered by your chosen provider is.
Breakdown on Payment Methods
Seeing as many cruise operators are fairly large companies, you’ll typically have a wide range of payment methods available to you. Understanding these options and making a smart decision regarding your payment method will help your money go a lot further for you.
The majority of cruise lines will accept credit cards. However, as we discussed, you may not have the limit to pay in full using this method. Some companies will allow you to create an agreement for a monthly amount to be charged on your card until the balance is covered. Paying by credit card offers the highest level of security and buyer protection, so providing you’re paying in your local currency within your resident country, paying with credit card may well be your best bet.
Whether your credit limit isn’t enough to cover the cost, or if you’re purchasing your dream cruise internationally, using bank transfers as a payment method may well be the most cost effective route. It’s fairly commonplace for cruise companies to accept a bank transfer, with some companies even offering a discount to do so.
Bank transfer payment methods include using a traditional high street bank, or to avoid higher fees and to typically get a more competitive rate if paying in a foreign currency, consider using a modern money transfer service such as Wise.
Even though many cruise companies won’t have a Wise account to receive payments, you may still end up making a significant saving on the FX markup using Wise for an international bank transfer. However, be prepared to wait slightly longer for the transaction to process than if you could make the transfer totally on the Wise network.
Similar to a monthly sum being charged to your card, some cruise liners will set up a direct debit straight to your account. Money will be automatically debited at the same time each month until the balance is paid in full.
Always be sure to understand when your last payment needs to be made so you’re not caught out in case a direct debit fails or you’re choosing to pay the balance in your own time.
When considering bank payments versus credit cards as a payment method for your cruise, you’ll want to spend a bit of time calculating which option provides you with the best cost saving. With most cruise lines being large reputable and trustworthy businesses, it may be worthwhile in some instances to omit the added security of using a credit card to make a significant saving.
Take advantage of cruises offering a multitude of payment options, and with the extra money you save from being payment savvy this time round, you’ll be booking your next cruise again in no time.
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This article is contributed by an expert guest author.