Have you ever tried to plan a big event overseas? Ed Gott, our head of Private Client Services here at Caxton FX recently got married in the beautiful Sintra mountains in Portugal. He and his bride used their Caxton cards and account to save significant amounts of money throughout the whole ‘big fat Portuguese wedding.’ Here’s how Ed used Caxton to save to money and ensure his wedding went without a hitch.
Even with all the usual stresses of planning a wedding, I still found the monetary and foreign exchange matters throughout my wedding planning the most stressful, and that was despite being a professional in the financial services sector. Luckily, through working at Caxton, I have a good understanding of the various pitfalls to avoid when making international payments and how to secure the best exchange rates. Using a Caxton multi-currency card enabled me to spend abroad fee-free, whilst also removing the stress of having to meticulously follow the foreign exchange market myself.
Planning an overseas wedding
My (now) wife and I decided we wanted to get married in Portugal as my wife’s father is Portuguese, making the event extra personal. Consequently, we needed to visit Portugal on three separate weekends to choose the venue, meet with suppliers and sample the food menus. Each of these trips cost several hundred pounds each on flights, accommodation and spending money.
Thankfully, I’ve come across many travel hacks through my work that I could use on these trips. The first pitfall I knew to avoid was using booking.com for accommodation. Despite displaying the price in pounds, it bills your card in the hotels local currency, meaning that your bank charges you an additional FX fee, ultimately leaving you with a terrible exchange rate. You only notice this once it’s too late and your purchase is already on your bank statement.
To avoid this simple mistake, I used my Caxton multi-currency card when paying for my accommodation. This is because Caxton allows you preload your card with euros in advance and when the rate is best, to get more bang for your buck, then you avoid the additional FX fee when it comes time to pay.
I also used the Caxton card when I was out there for day-to-day spending, to avoid ATM withdrawal and point-of-sale fees.
Total spend on these trips:
3-night accommodation = 400 EUR
Spending money = 300 EUR
x3 trips = 57.75 EUR saving by using Caxton card vs NatWest card FX rates
Booking a wedding venue abroad
We were excited when we found a large, quintessentially Portuguese guest house, which could accommodate our guests for the duration of the wedding ceremony. To ensure that it didn’t sell out, I reserved the entire property on a “reserve now, pay later” basis, with the aim of selling the rooms to my guests and getting the entire cost of the property back, before I paid the total amount.
This was an extremely tricky foreign exchange situation to manage. The cost of the reservation was billed at 24,000 Euros, however, my guests wanted to pay me in GBP. Issues arose with the fluctuating foreign exchange rate as the pound was falling, which meant that the cost of the rooms in GBP got higher. The rates kept moving meaning that my guests owed a small amount more - in total this amounted to around an extra 400 euros.
This rate movement was causing my wife and I stress, so I decided to take out a forward contract with Caxton for the 24000 euros, which locked in a rate for 6 months, meaning that I didn’t have to buy the euros until the hotel bill was due. This allowed me to quote a fixed price to my guests, whilst also enabling me to get the best possible, locked-in rate. Using Caxton ultimately removed the uncertainty out of the situation and allowed me to focus on planning my wedding rather than carefully checking the currency market!
Supplier costs – making international payments
Picture it – your idyllic European wedding, with all the beautiful foods, flowers, music and decor; all provided by skilled suppliers who needed to be paid in Euros. In total, we had over 25,000 EUR worth of payments to make into euro bank accounts, over the 12-month planning period in smaller tranches.
It may have seemed simplest for me to just send these payments from my NatWest account directly, however, using an FX company like Caxton saved us a significant amount of money. For example, NatWest’s exchange rate was 1% lower, plus they charged a £30 fee for every payment.
That’s a difference of 250 euros from the rate and 300 euros in transfer fees = 550 euros saving
Supplier costs – cash payments in euros
On the day of the wedding, musicians needed paying in cash. This again was a headache as the exchange rates from local bureaus were poor. Luckily, I could load up my Caxton card, which allowed me and my wife to withdraw 300 pounds equivalent per day, per card holder. That’s 600 pounds a day FEE FREE and at great rates.
In comparison, NatWest charge 2% cash withdrawal fee plus another 2.75% FX margin. That’s 4.75%!
I had to pay 2000 euros on the day in cash = a total saving of 95 euros
Make saving money simpler when you plan your wedding
Every penny counts and quickly adds up throughout any wedding planning process. In choosing to use my Caxton card rather than my everyday NatWest bank, I managed to save a TOTAL OF 702 EUROS, which let us splurge a little more on the things we’ll remember, like our wedding cake or photographer! Ultimately, the entire day was a great success; my bride looked beautiful, the Portuguese weather was unbeatable and the ceremony couldn't have gone better.