Although it’s only been a week since I have been home, I am now planning my next trip to France—in the Spring 2015. I hope to go for 2 months; however, let’s see how the costs pan out.
In my research, one of the best tips I can share has to do with using one’s frequent flyer points. I have a ton of points with Aeroplan, which is a Star Alliance member along with Lufthansa, LOT, Austrian, Brussels Airlines, Singapore Airlines, and many more. I collect my Aeroplan points primarily through Air Canada; however, the tax and fuel charges by Air Canada, when I am using my Aeroplan points is ridiculous. For a one-way, direct business flight from Toronto (YYZ) to Paris (CDG), the tax is $492.16 and 45000 Aeroplan miles. That’s just one way! Round trip would be $984.32 and 90000 miles. Economy is $584.3 and 60000 Aeroplan miles return. One might as well just pay for a flight. Certainly you are getting kind of a deal going business class; however, the taxes/fuel surcharges are insane!
So, what is one to do?
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Who doesn’t like to save money?
If you spend at least 175 Euros in the same store on the same day, you can get the VAT (Value Added Tax) back. When you are paying, be sure to tell the cashier that you would like to claim the tax so you will need the necessary form. Some stores, like Galeries Lafayette require you to go to a different floor where they have a booth that deals just with refunds.
Thanks to technology, the store will give you a customs receipt with a bar code as well as an envelope. It is now much easier to submit the form and get money back.
Now, all you have to do is go to the Tax Refund booth at the airport. (In this case, it is more reliable to go to the one BEFORE you enter customs) and have a machine scan the bar code. The machine will tell you if all is OK and if it is, you just have to put the receipt in the envelope and deposit it in the quasi-mailbox located beside the Tax Refund booth. This mailbox is only for tax refunds. Now you just have to wait up to three months for the refund on your credit card (or depending how you paid, it might also be a cheque).