Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Value for Money

I was recently posed an interesting question by one of my readers.

‘David, can you please recommend someone who can give the best and cheapest advice about……..’

The problem is that the best advice is not necessarily the cheapest and the cheapest advice may not be the best. In my view the answer is value for money.

You would be surprised how many times I hear the expression ‘I was told that…….’. What usually follows is either wrong or some local popular myth.

Whether it’s QROPS, QNUPS, taxes in Spain, property regulations, residency and many more, myths and inaccurate information abounds.

I will never deviate from my belief that professional advice is always best.

Apart from owning property in Spain for nine years and struggling to find professional advice, in the last year my Blog has lead me to many professionals. If you need advice, please email me.

My own connections included the following professionals;

  • Regulated financial advisers
There are many people and organisations who call themselves ‘financial advisers’ without any qualifications and no regulatory body such as FSA (UK) or DGS and CNMV (Spain). I will only recommended regulated and fully qualified advisers who’s services I have checked.

Value for money comes from a clear declaration of commissions and charges in an open and honest way. Hidden charges and undeclared commissions should always be avoided. For a referral to a suitable adviser, please email me.

  • Suitably qualified accountants and professional lawyers
Both the Institute of Chartered Accountants and the Law Society have qualified professionals working in Spain. Whilst you may have a good local source for advice, the professional standing of these people cannot be denied. If you need a referral, please email me.

You are further protected as all qualified professionals will carry ‘Professional Indemnity Insurance’ (PI) just in case anything goes wrong.

Unless your situation is very complex, I would expect most professionals to give you an estimate of costs upfront.

  • Chartered surveyors in Spain
Similarly, I can recommend UK qualified Surveyors.

  • Estate Agents
This is an area of service which is by definition very local. You could already know of a local estate agent with a good local reputation. If this is not the case I can recommend you to a Member of the Association of International Property Professionals.

  • Company formation for property ownership
This is a very specialised service and is often used to save on Spanish Inheritance Tax (ISD). There is a service on my blog under the heading ‘Check your Spanish Inheritance Tax Liability’ to the right of this article.

The service involves the formation of a UK company to own a property in Spain. It involves UK law for the formation of the company and Spanish contracts, translations and knowledge of Spanish law. For this reason, the company concerned has offices in both UK and Spain.

  • Foreign Exchange
I set up La Torre Fx – Foreign Exchange with the specific objective of beating the banks. This is a service and it is worth checking out, with easy access on the right of the blog.

La Torre Fx – Foreign Exchange is linked to a highly professional ‘trading platform’ provided by FTT Global. All of the necessary regulations are in place;

Key Facts about FTT Global:

·         Registered in the United Kingdom - Company Number 5685288
·         Regulated by FSA - Registration Number 503228
·         Regulated by HMRC - Registration Number 12231114
·         Registered for Client Data Protection - ICO Number Z9470988
·         Underwritten by A Rated Insurer
·         Corporate Bankers - Barclays Bank PLC
·         Start trading at

If you email please let me know your question and where you live. I may be able to answer myself, just point you in the right direction or refer you to a suitably qualified person.

For more detailed reading you may wish to look at previous posts to my Blog

Please remember that my Blog is about unbiased, factual financial information. You can look elsewhere for information but remember that an advert will certainly biased towards the company who paid for it. I have no problem with that but remember it’s biased!

David Goodall
Financial Pages in Spain

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Airline Bank and Credit Card Charges

September 14th  - UPDATE
Ryanair has announced from 1st November 2011 the holders of Pre-Paid Mastercards will no longer be able to book free. They will need to pay £6 per journey or £12 return PER PASSENGER. That's £48 for a family of four.

There is only one way around this charge - get a Ryanair 'Cash Passport', which is a NEW pre-paid Mastercard! Seems like Ryanair is saying 'Gotcha'

  • Hidden charges

  • Often excessive extra costs

  • Charges bear no relationship to the cost the bank levies

A couple of weeks ago I received the following email from Lydia. She lives in Spain whilst her daughter lives in Nottinghamshire.

‘David, thank you very much for the help that your Blog has given me but you have asked for feedback so here goes.

My daughter wants to visit me in October but told she was confused about bank charges added to the cost of flights by various airlines. I think, from asking around that many are in this same situation.

Could you do something on the Blog on this matter?

Best wishes, Lydia

I am delighted to help. If you have feedback or comments, please email me.

They don’t make it easy for infrequent travellers but I think I’ve come up with something for readers which your family, friends and neighbours will find helpful too.

I’ll set out the seven main budget airlines operating between Spain and UK, but where ever you fly the charges are the same. To avoid confusion and exchange rate differences these are the sterling charges on September 6th 2011.

BMI Baby
There are three levels of charge with BMI Baby but these are set out clearly and not difficult to follow;

Visa Electron is free
Debit cards are £6 per person
Credit cards are £9 per person

However, please remember that the cost is per person, so a family of 4 using a credit card booking will pay £36 booking fee.

Easyjet have three distinct levels of charge and you may need your calculator.

Visa Electron is free
Debit card charge is 2.5% with a minimum of £4.95. This is the same as Thomson Airways (see below)
Credit cards are charged at the same rate as debit cards plus an extra £8 transaction fee.

Flybe’s booking fee prices are clearly set out but please remember that they are per person.

Visa Electron card is free
Debit card is £9 per person
Credit card charge amounts to £10 per person or £40 for a family of 4. have three levels of charge but I found the credit card fee difficult to understand.

Visa Electron card is free of charge
Debit card charge of 3.5% showing as a transaction fee and subject to a minimum of £4.99
If you use a credit card you will still get the transaction charge, as per the debit card plus a credit card charge of an additional 3.5%

Visa Electron cards and Debit cards are free of booking fees when travelling with Monarch. The alternatives are £5 for using Paypal and £10 for using any other credit card. The cost is added per booking not per passenger.

Correct until 1st November 2011
The always controversial Ryanair are easy to understand but expensive. The costs I will mention below are per passenger. There is however one way to get no booking fee even with Ryanair. That is through a Pre-paid Mastercard. Most issuers of these cards don’t do a credit check as you need to provide the spending limit yourself from another account.

This is not a recommendation but I have a Caxton Fx Currency Card which is a Pre-paid Mastercard. It is worth researching which one suits you.

All other forms of payment, with Ryanair, attract a charge of £12 per passenger or £48 for a familyof 4.

Thomson Airways
Visa Electron cards are free with Thomson. Booking fees by any other method are charged at a rate of 2.5% of the total cost with a minimum of £4.95.

So if the total cost of the booking is £100 the booking fee is £4.95. If the total is £200 the fee is £5.

* * * *

If you are a frequent flyer you may want to ensure that you have all bases covered! I found from my own experience that I can always get no booking fees or transaction charges with the following;

  • I got a visa electron card from my Spanish bank
  • I have a debit card with my UK bank
  • I applied for a Pre-paid Mastercard having made a comparisons using the internet.

For those living in Spain these steps may be comparatively easy. UK family and friends may find it difficult to get a Visa Electron card. However my research took me to .

I hope that you found this helpful. Would you help me?

Please send this to anyone you know who uses budget airlines – they may also find ‘Financial Pages in Spain’ helpful in other ways too.

David Goodall
Financial Pages in Spain

Thursday, 1 September 2011

August 2011 Review – Financial Pages in Spain

On 9th August 2011, the blog celebrated it’s first anniversary. At the end of the calendar month, I thought I would reflect on the main issues and topics on ‘Financial Pages in Spain’ during August, including First Anniversary Week.

  • Tax payable on rental property in Spain

  •  Qualifying Recognised Overseas Pension Schemes (QROPS)

  • Spanish Inheritance Tax (ISD)

These are the issues that contributed the most feedback. I’m always pleased to receive emails either to seek further advice or to comment on my articles.

Using the statistics provided by my service contractor, I can also indicate the most popular posts in terms of the number of people who visited the pages. They were, in order;

  1. Rental Property in Spain - Tax Payable
There is very clear evidence that the Spanish Tax Authorities (La Hacienda) are now taking the subject very seriously. Given the Spanish Government’s massive budget deficit and the need for more revenue, It is clear that holiday rental income is a ‘soft’ option.

If you have any feedback, please email me. I have received compliments from lawyers and accountants about this item. One of them wrote this ‘tell your readers that it is their responsibility to declare the tax not their agents

  1. QROPS
      QROPS (Qualifying Recognised Overseas Pension Schemes) are set up to allow a transfer of UK pension rights, abroad, with the full approval and authority of the UK Tax Authorities (HMRC).

      I first wrote about these expatriate pensions in my first month of the blog, 12 months ago. The market has changed over time, but QROPS remain extremely popular. However, there is still activity from unauthorised, unlicensed and unqualified people who call themselves ‘advisers’. I only recommend fully authorised advisers. Email me for an introduction.

  1. Spanish Inheritance Tax (ISD)
      Always remember that UK IHT and Spanish ISD are so different that there is no Double Taxation Treaty or Agreement between the two countries.

      No Spanish Inheritance Tax is payable if the property is owned by a UK company, since even if a shareholder dies, the company can continue in existence and the shares passed on to a beneficiary under UK rules. You can check your own liability very easily, if you click the link, in the right-hand column.

This also gives me the opportunity to point out the article that I liked best.

UK Pension Scheme or Plan but you live in Spain

Expats with pensions often believe that they are ‘stuck with’ the rules as they understood them in the UK. This post deals with alternatives. Overseas Pensions come in many guises. For example, there are QROPS, QNUPS and Section 615. The first step, however, is to understand what you have got.

Write me an email , tell me what type of scheme you’ve got and I’ll make sure you are given the right fully authorised advice.

* * * * * * *

Financial Pages in Spain continues to grow, as I can see from the statistics. Whilst Spain and UK dominate the views of both the Website and Blog, there have been readers from 39 other countries including New Zealand, Malta, Isle of Man and also the USA!.

Any issues which arise can be answered on an individual basis if you email me. I’m happy to receive questions from anywhere but my real expertise relates to the UK and Spain.

I am happy to take suggestions from readers about future articles. Please email me with your own ideas or issues that you think need raising.

David Goodall
Financial Pages in Spain