Dis­counts: Ni­cola Field Prepay & save

Pay­ing in ad­vance can de­liver big sav­ings so it’s worth check­ing out your op­tions

Money Magazine Australia - - CONTENTS - NI­COLA FIELD

Snar­ing a dis­count can some­times be a mat­ter of tim­ing. Pay­ing up­front, or pre­pay­ing, can get you up to 60% off the reg­u­lar price of fuel, park­ing and much more so Money re­ports on where some of the best pre­pay­ment sav­ings can be found. And bear in mind that, if you have the cash on hand, it never hurts to ask for the best pos­si­ble price when you pay in ad­vance.

Fuel

Prices swing enor­mously – some­times in a few days – so it’s a no-brainer to lock in a low fuel price with the 7-Eleven Fuel App.

The app lets mo­torists search their five near­est 7-Eleven fuel stores to find the low­est price us­ing real-time data. Users then reg­is­ter for a dig­i­tal wal­let and se­lect the type and vol­ume of fuel they would like to pur­chase and lock in an amount, up to their wal­let bal­ance, for seven days.

From here, you can fill up at any 7-Eleven fuel out­let and com­plete the trans­ac­tion in-store by scan­ning the bar­code on the app. If the price of petrol at the store is lower than the price you have locked in, you’ll pay the lower price. THE PLUSES: The app helps driv­ers avoid fuel price spikes, and it is avail­able on both iOS and An­droid. THE MINUSES: You may be able to buy cheaper fuel at an­other out­let. Shop around be­fore com­mit­ting to 7-Eleven bowsers.

Park­ing

Find­ing a city cen­tre park­ing spot is of­ten a strug­gle and then the real chal­lenge comes when you see the bill. Charges in ma­jor cities such as Syd­ney and Mel­bourne can top $40 for three hours. Pre­pay­ing is a sim­ple way to se­cure a spot and save.

Car park op­er­a­tors of­fer a host of pre­paid op­tions. As a guide to the sav­ings avail­able, Se­cure Park­ing’s Se­cure-a-Spot deal can save up to 60% on the drive-up rate and pre­paid evening park­ing can cost as lit­tle as $10. Book­ings can be made up to 30 days in ad­vance.

If you plan longer-term park­ing, the sav­ings can re­ally stack up. Park­ing for, say, three days at Syd­ney’s

do­mes­tic air­port can cost up to $178.50. Prepay on­line and the price comes down to $134 – a dis­count of al­most 25%.

THE PLUSES: Along with dis­counts, pre­pay­ing can speed up the park­ing process as a driver sim­ply uses a per­son­alised code to en­ter and exit the sta­tion.

THE MINUSES: If you don’t use the car spot you may lose your money. Se­cure Park­ing, for in­stance, does not of­fer re­funds or cred­its for pre­paid park­ing that isn’t used and if you over­stay your pre­paid time reg­u­lar hourly charges will ap­ply for the ex­tra time.

School fees

It’s not for ev­ery­one but, if your chil­dren at­tend a non-gov­ern­ment school, it’s worth ask­ing about a dis­count for pay­ing fees in ad­vance. Schools don’t al­ways ad­ver­tise these dis­counts pub­licly, though many of­fer them, so it’s worth in­quir­ing. Some, such as Syd­ney’s Knox Gram­mar and Nam­bour Chris­tian Col­lege in Queens­land, of­fer a 3% dis­count for pre­paid tu­ition fees.

THE PLUSES: Ris­ing school fees make it worth ex­plor­ing pre­paid dis­counts, es­pe­cially if you’re cer­tain your child will con­tinue to at­tend the school.

THE MINUSES: Pre­pay­ing doesn’t nec­es­sar­ily mean you’ll avoid fee in­creases. You could still be asked to stump up more cash if fees rise after you have pre­paid. If your child leaves the school, you may not get all your money back – a por­tion, of­ten 10%, may be with­held.

Car rental

If you’re head­ing off for a break and plan to hire a car, pay­ing in ad­vance can put money back in your hip pocket. Hertz of­fers “pay now” dis­counts to driv­ers who book and pay for car hire in ad­vance. For ex­am­ple, hir­ing a Toy­ota Yaris for seven days can cost $266. Book and pay in ad­vance and the rental drops to $242.51 – a dis­count of al­most 9%. THE PLUSES: Driv­ers have a week’s grace to change their minds about the pre­paid book­ing be­fore fees ap­ply. THE MINUSES: After the seven-day grace pe­riod, a $70 can­cel­la­tion fee ap­plies and a com­plete no-show in­curs a $150 fee.

Car in­sur­ance

Com­pre­hen­sive car cover is a must-have but it’s far from cheap, so it makes sense to look for ways to save. Most in­sur­ers of­fer a dis­count if you ar­range and pay for cover on­line – rang­ing from a $100 sav­ing with AAMI through to 25% off the pre­mium with Bud­get Di­rect. Pro­gres­sive car in­sur­ance goes one step fur­ther, of­fer­ing an early shop­per dis­count to driv­ers who ar­range and pay for com­pre­hen­sive cover be­fore their cur­rent pol­icy ex­pires. Ac­cord­ing to Pro­gres­sive, the dis­count is a per­cent­age of the reg­u­lar pre­mium, and is in part shaped by fac­tors other in­sur­ers may not con­sider, such as mar­i­tal sta­tus and a driver’s ed­u­ca­tion level. Money put Pro­gres­sive to the test and found the early pay­ment dis­count can be im­pres­sive. Com­pre­hen­sive in­sur­ance for a 2012 Nis­san Navara was quoted at $473.93 for cover start­ing on the day of the quote. The pre­paid pre­mium to in­sure the same ve­hi­cle six weeks be­fore cover with an­other in­surer ex­pired was $356.51 – a sav­ing of $117.32. THE PLUSES: No mat­ter which in­surer you use, pay­ing your an­nual pre­mium up­front is of­ten cheaper than mak­ing 12 monthly in­stal­ments. THE MINUSES: Dis­counts shouldn’t be the only rea­son for choos­ing an in­surer. Other is­sues to take into con­sid­er­a­tion in­clude the value you can in­sure your ve­hi­cle for, the qual­ity of the com­pany’s claims ser­vice and whether you can trans­fer a no-claim bonus from your cur­rent in­surer to the new one (Bud­get Di­rect, for in­stance, al­lows this).

Air fares

No mat­ter whether your air travel is do­mes­tic or in­ter­na­tional, most of us book and pay for flights ahead of time. The ques­tion is, how far in ad­vance should you book and prepay to se­cure the best deals?

Ac­cord­ing to flight search en­gine Skyscan­ner, the sweet spot for dis­counts is pay­ing 17 weeks in ad­vance – a time frame that pro­vides a dis­count of 5% on av­er­age.

The ideal time to prepay de­pends on your des­ti­na­tion. If you’re head­ing to Ja­pan, for in­stance, book­ing and pre­pay­ing 21 weeks be­fore de­par­ture can mean sav­ing an av­er­age of 12% on fares. If you’re fly­ing between Mel­bourne and Syd­ney, aim to book and prepay four weeks in ad­vance to pocket a dis­count of 25% on av­er­age.

THE PLUSES: Book­ing and pay­ing early also means get­ting the seat you want, the date you want and the air­line of your choice.

THE MINUSES: The longer the time between pre­pay­ing your flight and de­par­ture date, the greater the odds are that some­thing could go wrong and pre­vent you from trav­el­ling. So get in early with travel in­sur­ance, too. That way you’re cov­ered if any­thing goes wrong in the lead-up to your flight.

The sweet spot for dis­counts, when book­ing and pay­ing in ad­vance for a flight, is 17 weeks

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