Saturday March 5th 2011

How to Pay for Overseas Writing Competitions – by Trish Nicholson

My Competitions blog has raised a lot of enthusiasm among my writerly friends for trying overseas comps, but they are wary of making payments in a foreign currency and don’t want to use their credit cards because of possible credit card fraud. I have written below some tips on how to make these payments with complete security (it’s the method I use myself).

A Safe, Simple Way to Pay Electronically

If you want to pay for an overseas competition entry fee, critique, or even buy a book without using a credit card, there is a safe and simple way.

Most online competitions use PayPal to receive payments and it is easy to open a PayPal account. If you are worried about using your debit card to load money into Paypal, then get a debit card that is not in any way linked to your own bank account, so if the worst should happen, you lose only the amount you have put into that particular card. In NZ there is a card called LOADED, available from the Post Office/Kiwi Bank (it is backed by VISA and accepted to PayPal). South Africa and UK will have their own versions/brands. You pay a small fee for the card.

Load the card with a small amount of money from your bank account – NZ$50 would let you spend around 20 pounds sterling (allowing for transaction and currency conversion fees), which could cover the cost of several competition entries – many competitions are from 4 -7 pounds). You use this card on PayPal, quoting the numbers in the normal way as if it was any other debit card, but you are not risking any more than what you have put on the card.

Paying for Snailmail Entries

If an entry has to be made by snailmail, you can go to your bank and buy a foreign draft. You pay the bank the amount you want to send, plus their fee for doing it and converting the currency (as you would with any method), and they give you their own foreign currency ‘cheque’ for the amount, which you then send to the competition address with your entry.

Online banking is cheaper than a foreign draft in terms of fees.

If you want your story returned, you have to send an ‘sae’ – stamped addressed envelope. This is a problem in NZ because NZ Post no longer sell international postage coupons for anywhere but Australia. I just make sure I have a copy and don’t bother about having them returned. The organisers will normally contact you by email when you win!

About the Author

 Trish Nicholson lives in the far north of New Zealand near 90 Mile Beach. After careers in management training and overseas development, she now divides her time between writing, photography, raising native plants and running her therapeutic massage practice. Trish has previously had non-fiction books and articles published, and this year began writing fiction for the first time. She prefers short stories and loves to enter competitions. Five times she has been the bridesmaid – short-listed and highly commended in  prestigious, international flash and short story competitions –  but has yet to be the bride, or have a story published. Trish is not working on her first novel, but if a likely bunch of characters ambushed her, she would sue for peace. She is a member of New Zealand Society of Authors.

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