Credit card AdobeStock David Hughes

Travellers using debit & credit cards abroad face sky-high costs

New Research from personal finance comparison site has found that holidaymakers using debit and credit cards abroad are being charged nearly five times as much (388%) in fees as those who use a prepaid currency card.

British travellers who use debit and credit cards are faced with an average of £39 in fees per year, compared to just £8 for prepaid currency cards or £22 for travel money bought at a currency exchange bureaux.

The research found that Brits spent an average of £616 abroad in 2017, totalling a £1.9 billion charge in travel money fees. However, with prepaid cards, the figure would have been £552 million. This would result in a collective saving of £1.4 billion and an individual saving of £31 per person, per trip. The savings would be even greater with new debit cards, such as Revolut and Starling, which charge no fees for foreign usage.

Jon Ostler, CEO at said: “With many banks imposing charges and commission fees when you use your card abroad, the costs can quickly add up. You may well be aware that withdrawing money from a foreign ATM can result in charges but even a small purchase using contactless can see you being hit with disproportionate fees on some cards.

Prepaid currency cards, and a few new debit or credit cards such as Starling and Revolut, are a good alternative to consider. As our research shows, they generally cost a lot less than traditional cards or an exchange bureaux, allowing you to spend more on your actual holiday.”

Foreign currency bought at a bureau de change is currently most popular among travellers as a way of paying for goods abroad, with 59% of Brits doing this. Almost half (46%) of Brits use debit and credit cards, while only one in six (16%) uses a prepaid currency card.

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