60 days has come and flown by and I decided it was time to start seriously thinking about things I needed to buy before I leave. I should point out I am terrible with shopping – I literally loathe walking around shops, so this is really not my thing but it must be done. I am sure the next 8 weeks will be packed full of shopping trips and I am then returning to the Outlet capital of the Western world so I guess I had better get used to it. This week – Luggage and a Cash Card
Top of the list was luggage, I do not have a nice lightweight bag (or two) which will let me take the largest amount of stuff while taking up the least of my weight allowance. My list of needs is a bag of which is lightweight, has a solid handle to pull it along and is made of soft material so that it will collapse nice and small to live under my bed for a year.
I initially went to look in the January sales but while there were lots of nice, cheap bags they were all very heavy and did not meet my, admittedly slightly ridiculously specific, requirements. I did however learn that Eastpak make a really nice range of soft bags so I decided to make a trip to the Eastpak shop assuming that they would have a nice range to choose from – turns out they have a very limited selection. Cue a return home to browse the internet and try to guess the right size of bag from photographs, one has now been ordered so I will let you know how it works out.
The other thing I sorted this weekend was a card to spend my UK savings in the USA. As I said in my last post I was planning to get a FairFX card which I thought was a great deal – it still is, but if you live in London I (or more correctly Amelia Rosenthal) have found an even better one. Metro Bank offer a current account with a debit card that allows free international transactions including ATMs. It offers an amazing interest rate that beats several of the places where you can exchange cash. The only downside is that it can only be opened at their branch which meant a trip across London.
After a few initial problems, details of which I will omit here, I got to their Borehamwood branch more than a little sceptical about the whole thing. I sat down with one of their advisors and asked all of my pressing questions – What rates would I get charged? Is it really free to use cash machines? Is it only a certain type of ATM? Did I need to transfer my account to Metro Bank to qualify?
I got better answers than I expected – yes, it is free anywhere in the world at almost any cash machine. The rate at the moment is 1.54 which is absolutely amazing (FairFX is 1.50) and it will always follow the Mastercard rate which is as good, if not better, than the cash rate. My biggest worry was that I would be forced to move away from my current bank, but that was not the case, they were more than happy for me to set up an account and keep my current one as well – although they did offer me £20 to switch – maybe I will consider it in the future.
So how do I manage to get totally free use of my UK money when I am in the USA? It is really easy – all I have to do is do a transfer from my bank account to my Metro Bank account – totally free and as long as it is less than £1000 (more than likely unless I win the lottery anytime soon) it is there within 2 hours or less. I can also leave something in the Metro Bank account just to be on the safe side. Then all I have to do is use my Metro Bank card at a US store or ATM and I can instantly access my money at a great exchange rate and with no charges. It is a bit complicated but I worked out it could save quite a bit of money in the long-term so I reckon it is worth it.
I would recommend Metro Bank to any future Disney ICPs or CRPs. Currently they only have branches in London but I think they are planning to open more in the near future so keep an eye out.
In Other News
Kristen from Yummy Jobs sent out a list of all of the March and April CRPs from the UK and Canada along with their email addresses – turns out that our March 20th Facebook Group was only missing two people – I sent them an email so hopefully they will get in touch before we go.
I have recently answered a few questions sent in via the contact form about Insurance and Mobile Phones. If you have any questions of your own feel free to send one in and I will do my best to answer them as best I can or point you to the right people to ask – just drop me a line.