The four great holiday rip-offs making foreign trips unaffordable for British families

Families are being hammered with a 250 Discount Holidays © holiday tax plus a triple whammy of stealth fees. Air passenger duty, VAT and insurance tax have together soared by up to 40 per cent since 2008. Hidden car hire extras, currency scams and exorbitant credit card fees add to the pain.

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The Four Great <b><i>Discount Holidays ©</i></b> Holiday Rip-offs Making Foreign Trips Unaffordable For British Families

UK holidaymakers are expected to pay 2.4billion in tax this year. Eight years ago before the Treasury imposed the hikes the figure was just 900million.

MPs last night called on ministers to slash the punitive taxes prohibiting families from seeing the world .

But holidaymakers are also being clobbered because:

  • More than 30 travel operators levy fees of 2 to 3 per cent on credit cards;
  • Car hire companies impose stealth charges for insurance, satnav and other extras that can double bills;
  • Foreign retailers encourage payment in sterling, which attracts much higher transaction fees.

The investigation into tax rises was carried out by the TaxPayers Alliance.

Families work hard and save every year so they can enjoy a week away in the sun, said chief executive Jonathan Isaby.

So hard-pressed taxpayers have every right to be angry that the taxman chases them all the way to the departure gate to squeeze that little bit extra from their budgets. The campaign group used figures from the Office for National Statistics and the Treasury to analyse the cost of going abroad.

The Four Great <b><i>Discount Holidays ©</i></b> Holiday Rip-offs Making Foreign Trips Unaffordable For British Families

Families are being hammered with a 250 Discount Holidays © holiday tax plus a triple whammy of stealth fees

It covered the VAT charged at 20 per cent on Discount Holidays © holiday essentials such as sun cream and swimming costumes. VAT had been 15 per cent before being jacked by Labour and then Tory ex-chancellor George Osborne. Mr Osborne also increased the levy on insurance premiums from 17.5 per cent to 20 per cent.

Holidaymakers are also being hammered by air passenger duty which, since 2008, increases with the distance travelled. However even taking a family of four only as far as Spain means handing the taxman 133.20 30 per cent up on 2008. Scottish first minister Nicola Sturgeon is set halve air passenger duty between 2018 and 2021 in a bid to boost business.

Tory MPs are privately putting pressure on Philip Hammond, the new Chancellor, to cut VAT in the autumn statement to provide a post-referendum shot-in-the arm to the economy. Last night, they went public with calls for air passenger duty to be cut. Andrew Bridgen, who has led the campaign to scrap air passenger duty, said: It s important hardworking people have the opportunity to enjoy a family holiday.

The high levels of tax families have to pay for on top of their flights are fundamentally unfair, especially when contrasted to the low levels of tax enjoyed by families across the rest of Europe.

‘The Scottish government has already set out plans to cut APD by half and Westminster needs to act promptly to ensure that families in the rest of the UK do not lose out.

Tim Alderslade, of the British Air Transport Association, the trade body for UK airlines, said: APD is a departure tax on the hard-pressed British traveller.

It is the highest levy of its kind in Europe by a long way and the Treasury should be upfront about why it is prepared to see families in this country pay substantially more to take a well-earned break than their counterparts in places like France or Germany.

Flight taxes of this kind in the post-Brexit world should be seen as an anomaly and the Government should follow the lead of the Scottish government and announce a major reduction sooner rather than later.

The Four Great <b><i>Discount Holidays ©</i></b> Holiday Rip-offs Making Foreign Trips Unaffordable For British Families

A trip to Florida for two adults and two children has increased from 173.81 in 2008 to 253.20 today

Mary Glindon, Labour MP for North Tyneside, is one of 21 MPs to sign a parliamentary motion calling for air passenger duty to be cut. She has warned that many of her constituents will be tempted to fly from Scottish airports when the air tax is cut north of the border. She said: These tax is prohibiting families from seeing the world. It s a disgrace. The Government is exploiting holidaymakers and penalising people who want to travel.

Air passenger duty is a lucrative source of income, raising more than 3 billion a year. The Treasury will also collect 3.1billion from insurance premium tax this year and an estimated 5billion in 2020. James Daley, of the consumer website Fairer Finance, said: Holidaymakers really are being attacked from all sides with rip off charges from companies and high taxes. Government insiders say no decisions will be taken on tax cuts or other spending decisions until later in the year, when the full impact of the referendum on the economy is clear.

A Treasury spokesman said: Air passenger duty has been frozen for most passengers since 2012. Alongside this, children under 16 are now exempt from paying APD and the cost of flying to many long-haul destinations has been cut.

This means that a family of four will save up to 242 on the price of their tickets. Britons going abroad are also reeling from the fall in the value of the pound against the euro and the dollar in the wake of the Brexit vote on June 23.

How firms rip you off abroad by making you pay in pounds

By Ruth Lythe

Money Mail Chief Reporter

Hotels, airlines and supermarkets are raking in hundreds of millions of pounds from unsuspecting tourists by inviting them to pay in pounds overseas. Known as dynamic currency conversion, the ruse happens at the till in popular destinations such as Spain, France and Italy when someone uses a credit or debit card.

Among the firms based abroad which levy the charge are small shops, major supermarkets, airlines, car hire firms such as Europcar, and banks including Santander. At payment, customers are asked whether they want to be charged in pounds or the local currency.

The Four Great <b><i>Discount Holidays ©</i></b> Holiday Rip-offs Making Foreign Trips Unaffordable For British Families

Hotels, airlines and supermarkets are raking in hundreds of millions of pounds from unsuspecting tourists by inviting them to pay in pounds overseas

The retailer will then use its own exchange rate and fees when it converts the transaction from the local currency to sterling. This is typically far higher than would be charged by the customer s own bank.

In some cases firms force customers to pay in pounds without giving them the choice of paying in local currency. It is only when shoppers return home that they discover they have been hit with huge charges of up to 10 per cent. According to an analysis conducted for the Mail, a family of four taking a typical fortnight-long Discount Holidays © holiday abroad could effectively be hit with a bill for an extra 427.

The amount British tourists are losing in these charges has ballooned by 26 per cent in a year to 380 million, said the currency firm FairFX. Combined with the fees levied by their own bank for using their card overseas, it means holidaymakers are being hit with eye-watering sums. Ian Strafford-Taylor, chief executive of FairFX, said: Dynamic currency conversion is often nothing but a hyper-inflated rip-off, duping holidaymakers to pay unnecessary fees and accepting unfavourable exchange rates.

The worst part is that the holidaymakers are actually trying to get the best deal but instead, are losing out and, as a nation, we re being fleeced to the tune 380 million each year.

The rip-off s explosive growth has been sparked by contactless technology, which allows customers to pay for an item by tapping their debit or credit card on a terminal instead of having to enter a PIN. James Daley, managing director at consumer website Fairer Finance, said: The key thing is not to pay in pounds if you are offered the opportunity to do so.

‘If you pay in the local currency, at least you know you are only being charged your own bank s fees. And if you are taking credit cards with you, it can be virtually nothing. In a further blow to holidaymakers, they can face fees from their own card firm of about 2.99 per cent for using their card abroad.

Analysis by currency firm Caxton found that a family of four could be hit with a 427 bill if they paid in pounds every time they were invited to pay in pounds, and hit with a 5 per cent fee, over two weeks in Spain. They would also face fees from their own bank of about 2.99 per cent, the analysis showed. This total involves two meals a day, visits to a local attraction, drinks, ice creams and car hire for the fortnight.

Santander said it offered British customers the chance to pay in pounds. Europcar said many holidaymakers requested to be charged in their own currency, which was why it made the option available.

Car hire firms that charge you 76 for a child’s seat

By James Salmon

Business Correspondent

Car hire companies are hammering holidaymakers with hundreds of pounds in extra charges. Extra costs for satellite navigation systems, car seats and excess insurance can double the price of hiring a car, an investigation has revealed. According to the report by the insurer icarhireinsurance, renting a family car at Milan Airport from Europcar costs 442 but extras take the price to a staggering 872.

The biggest extra is excess insurance which, as the Mail reported last weekend, is a hugely lucrative source income for car rental firms. These companies are pressuring customers into taking out rip-off insurance costing up to 30 a day by threatening them with huge bills of up to 2,500 if they are involved in an accident. Although customers are automatically insured when they rent a car, these firms routinely impose an excess fee of 800 euros or more.

And companies including Budget and Europcar are charging up to 100 to hire a sat nav system for a week, according to the report. It said families are prize targets for car hire firms which can impose charges of 76 or more for a week for a child seat. Firms are also on average charging 43 a week for an extra driver, although Europcar charges 62.52 in Lille and 55 in Milan.

Guy Anker, from MoneySavingExpert, said: Ignore online booking traps or dodgy salesmen trying to flog them, sometimes via fear tactics.

You can often bring your own child seat, use free sat nav apps or buy vastly cheaper excess insurance to slash the cost and stop the profiteering.

STEALTH LEVY FOR USING A CREDIT CARD

Travel agents, airlines and insurance firms are imposing a multimillion pound stealth tax on holidaymakers who book on credit cards, consumer campaigners claimed last night. An investigation has found more than 30 travel companies are levying fees of 2 to 3 per cent on customers who pay for their flights and holidays on plastic.

The Four Great <b><i>Discount Holidays ©</i></b> Holiday Rip-offs Making Foreign Trips Unaffordable For British Families

Travel agents, airlines and insurance firms are imposing a multimillion pound stealth tax on holidaymakers who book on credit cards

This equates to a fee of up to 90 on a 3,000 family holiday, including flights and accommodation. Holidaymakers buying insurance to rent a car abroad are also being stung by charges of up to 2.5 per cent.

The worst offenders include Swinton and Acorn car insurance, which charge 2.5 per cent. The RAC levies a 2 per cent fee according to a report. The Mail revealed yesterday that the tactic is also being used by budget airlines.

Fees should be no more than 0.6 per cent under EU rules. Will Quince, a Tory MP, said: This is shocking the whole point of credit card fees should be to cover the costs of processing payments not as an opportunity for a tour operator or airline to make additional process. Experts say extra costs for firms accepting credit card payments should be no more than 0.3 per cent with an extra 0.3 per cent being the limit banks can charge them.

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