If you frequently travel abroad on business you’ll no doubt have warmly greeted news that the European Parliament has approved plans to ban data roaming charges from 15 June 2017.
Some mobile network operators add on such charges for calls, texts and internet access when users are overseas, which can create nasty surprises when your bill arrives. But as reported by the BBC, an interim cap on charges will take effect from 30 April next year, prior to a full ban across the EU.
And it could save companies millions. According to a study commissioned by international wifi provider iPass, overseas business travellers from the USA and UK overspent on connectivity charges to the tune of some £855m in 2014.
But what other costs can a business traveller (often unknowingly) rack up while on a trip overseas? Well, things can get very expensive if you haven’t got travel insurance and become sick or seriously injured.
According to government website Gov.uk, if you were to get a serious stomach bug or infection and needed treatment in a Californian hospital, with return flights cost, the final bill could be as high as £100,000. But it’s not just US healthcare costs that are high. A fall resulting in a broken hip requiring treatment in a Spanish hospital with return flights could cost £15,000.
Alarmingly, a June 2015 survey by Ageas suggests that nearly a fifth of SMEs don’t have business travel cover, this despite 20 per cent of respondents taking more overseas trips in the past year and 15 per cent travelling more in the UK and overseas.
Credit card fees
Credit card fees can also add to overseas business trip costs. Your provider may charge a foreign usage fee, a flat fee each time you use the card, credit card interest or charges for cash withdrawals. Over the course of a week or two, such fees can soon build up. Using a debit card overseas can also incur a non-sterling transaction fee for purchases and cash machine withdrawals. Before your next trip, be sure to contact your card provider(s) to find out about fees and charges when abroad.
You’ll probably need some cash during your trip, and as Ed Ewing points out in the Guardian, ‘To get the best deal on buying foreign currency you should go online. Don’t leave it too late and whatever you do don’t get it at the airport. This is because in general the bureaux de change in airports offer poor exchange rates and high commission to a captive audience.’
Car and van hire
If hiring a vehicle overseas, beware of hidden costs, which can of course include taking out collision damage waiver cover. According to Telegraph Motoring‘s consumer expert, James Foxall, ‘Pay this and you’ll still have to pay the excess – this can cost you upwards of £900 – if you have a collision. To obviate this, hire car companies usually charge about £15 a day extra. Try to sort this out in advance, with the hire car company if they’ll do it, or a separate insurer if they won’t.’
Taxis and food
Think carefully and plan for your travel requirements while on business abroad, because paying for taxis can quickly take care of your cash. Asking staff in your hotel the likely cost of a taxi to and from your destination is recommended. Better still, ask your hotel concierge to arrange a taxi for you from a reputable company, as this can help to avoid rip-offs. Always ask the taxi driver the likely fare for the trip before getting in.
Your hotel concierge will probably also be able to suggest the best places too eat, so you’re not paying over the odds for sub-standard local cuisine. Alternatively, do your research via apps or websites before leaving the UK, and make a list of places to eat that won’t devour your budget.
Have you any useful tips for avoiding extra costs on business trips? Let us know on Google+ or LinkedIn.