Tackle the post-holiday blues

A family on holiday together on the beach. See PA Feature FINANCE Post Holiday. Picture credit should read: PA Photo/thinkstockphotos. WARNING: This picture must only be used to accompany PA Feature FINANCE Post Holiday.
A family on holiday together on the beach. See PA Feature FINANCE Post Holiday. Picture credit should read: PA Photo/thinkstockphotos. WARNING: This picture must only be used to accompany PA Feature FINANCE Post Holiday.

How was your summer holiday? Enjoyable - or exhausting?

Many of us are arriving back from the perfect, relaxing break around now - but some people may have found their getaway got them hot under the collar.

Often, the reason for a holiday being less than a success is down to a money-related mishap having taken place during the trip.

Every year, the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) receives calls from thousands of people who endured the holiday from hell thanks to a blocked bank card, or perhaps a trauma while trying to make a claim on their travel insurance.

Little wonder then that a recent survey by Nationwide Building Society found nearly one in four holidaymakers return from their break feeling more stressed than when they left.

The FOS, which resolves disputes between consumers and financial firms, has some tips for those who have suffered a problem while away:

:: Travel insurance trauma

We take out insurance to protect us should the worst happen while we’re away, so it’s always disappointing if a claim gets turned down. First of all, don’t panic. Ask the insurer to explain why it is refusing to pay a claim. If you don’t understand, or don’t feel the reason they’ve given you is fair, you can give the financial ombudsman a call on 0800 023 4567 to talk it through.

:: Seeing isn’t always believing

You may need to make a claim on your travel insurance if your trip didn’t turn out as expected. Sometimes insurers will refuse to pay a claim based on an exclusion in the policy you have bought. But the ombudsman would always expect to see that these exclusions have been applied fairly. For example, a policy may exclude claims for events that happen when you’ve drunk alcohol. But it has seen some examples of this being applied after a couple of glasses of wine with dinner - and the ombudsman doesn’t think that’s fair.

:: Flight delays

Hanging around airports is never fun - and waiting around in an airport for 12 hours longer than you expected is even worse. If you experienced a lengthy delay on a flight to the EU this summer, have a look online for “flight delay compensation” to see what you could be entitled to. A recent investigation by consumer group Which? suggests that delayed airline passengers are potentially missing out on millions of pounds of compensation. Research among 7,000 Which? members found that only four in 10 (38%) people claimed compensation following a delay. While people can use a claims management company to claim for compensation, these firms can take up to one third of a consumer’s payout. Request compensation for a delayed flight at www.which.co.uk/consumer-rights/action/letter-to-request-compensation-for-a-delayed-flight/ and a letter to request compensation for a cancelled flight at www.which.co.uk/consumer-rights/action/letter-to-request-compensation-for-cancelled-flights-.

:: Banking bother

Being stranded abroad with no access to your cash can be very distressing. Whether this is because a cash machine has swallowed your card, or the bank is security checking your account, it makes sense to have the international number for your bank to hand. But if you felt the bank caused you more stress than you needed, give the financial ombudsman a call.

:: Check your statements

If you used your debit or credit card while you were away, keep receipts safe and check your statements. International transactions can take longer to come through, so make sure you don’t go to close to your limit.

WHY EASY ACCESS ACCOUNTS MAY NOT BE SO EASYGOING AFTER ALL...

Research by Moneyfacts.co.uk has found that the easy access savings market - a staple for many savers - is showing the green shoots of recovery with the rates available on top deals increasing.

But savers should be on their guard - as the number of accounts that offer limited access to invested funds is also increasing, according to the website.

Charlotte Nelson, a finance expert at Moneyfacts.co.uk, says the average rate for the top 10 “best buy” accounts in this market has increased from 1.39% a year ago to 1.48% in August 2015.

She continues: “While this is great news for any saver looking to maximise their returns, savers may be disappointed to find out that many accounts are now limiting access to their funds, with restrictions varying from a maximum of 150 withdrawals per year to just one.

“It’s a misconception to believe that no notice accounts always allow easy access to funds - in truth, all it means is that savers are not required to give notice before making a withdrawal. Any saver going over the agreed withdrawal limit will therefore be penalised with closure of the account or a penalty in the form of lost interest or a fee.”

Tip for savers: To avoid potential heartache, Nelson recommends making a note of any restrictions on an account and making sure any withdrawals are absolutely necessary.

POUNDNOTES

Financial fact: In June 2015, the average paid for a property by a first-time buyer was 5.1% higher than the typical price paid by someone taking their first step on the property ladder a year earlier, according to Office for National Statistics (ONS) figures.

In June 2015, the average price paid for a house by a first-time buyer was £213,000.

COST GAP BETWEEN BUYING AND RENTING REVEALED

The average cost for a first-time buyer of buying a home is £670 a year lower than renting, according to research by Halifax.

This contrasts with summer 2009 during the financial crisis, when the average cost of buying was around £1,154 more a year than the average rent paid.

Craig McKinlay, mortgage director at Halifax, said lower mortgage rates have helped to make it cheaper to buy than to rent.

Average buying costs were calculated by including mortgage payments as well as household maintenance, repairs and insurance costs and income lost by funding a deposit rather than saving.

OVER-50S ‘TURN TO STOCK MARKET TO FUND RETIREMENT’

One in three people aged over 50 have bought shares in a company to help fund their retirement, research suggests.

The findings, from Saga Share Direct, show that other common reasons the over-50s buy and sell shares are to give them a regular source of income and to potentially get a higher return than if they left their money in a savings account.

But it’s not all about making money - one in 14 (7%) over-50s said keeping a close eye on the FTSE 100 is a hobby.

People aged between 80 and 89 were the most likely to own shares, according to the survey of more than 9,000 Saga customers.

OVER TWO-THIRDS OF CONSUMERS ‘ARE ABLE TO SAVE’

More people are feeling confident about their savings, with over two-thirds (70%) of people having saved over the past 12 months, according to the Lloyds Bank Savings Report.

One in 10 (10%) people said they had been able to save over £1,000 in the last month, while one in five (19%) had saved £500 or more.

Just over one in five (22%) people said that they have more than four times their household monthly income in accessible savings.

Women were found to be much more likely than men to cut back on buying clothes, and will also buy cheaper brands in the supermarket more often than men in order to save for a rainy day, according to the research among more than 6,000 people.