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Easter Holiday Makers are Hopping Mad Over Credit & Debit Card Foreign Exchange Usage Fees

Personal_Finance / Credit Cards & Scoring Apr 04, 2007 - 10:44 PM GMT

By: Nationwide

Personal_Finance

UK holidaymakers wasted nearly £16 million last Easter

Nationwide Building Society is urging Easter holidaymakers across the country not to make the same mistake as last year by incurring unnecessary charges for using their cards abroad. Last Easter over 15 million* UK holidaymakers travelled to Europe and wasted nearly £16 million** in foreign usage charges on credit and debit cards.

This Easter, people heading abroad for a week of sun or for a city break should make the switch to one of Nationwide’s credit or debit cards, that all offer free card use abroad. Last Easter Nationwide saved its customers almost £1 million*** by not charging them for using their cards abroad.


With 24 hour access to over one million VISA ATMs worldwide, Nationwide’s cardholders have easy access to their money. There are now more than 24 million VISA outlets across the world, including shops, restaurants, hotels and car hire companies. Holidaymakers do not have to exchange money prior to travelling and can avoid the hassle of exchanging travellers’ cheques. Nationwide is the only current account provider not to charge its customers for using their debit cards in ATMs abroad and therefore offers a free and easy way of withdrawing cash.

Jeremy Wood, divisional director at Nationwide, said: “People who are planning to go abroad this Easter should be aware of the hidden charges that most card providers impose which are both costly and unnecessary. Anyone using a Nationwide debit or credit card will not be charged any foreign usage fees on purchases and will therefore have extra money to enjoy while on holiday.”

Notes to editors:

* 15,143,000 UK residents travelled to Europe in Q2 of 2006 averaging 5,047,667 people each month. (Data from ONS Overseas Travel and Tourism (MQ6))

**£16 million calculated as follows:

  • On average a Nationwide credit card holder spends £344.34 when abroad
  • A third of UK travellers to Europe are likely to use a debit or credit card. Therefore around 1,682,556 people use their cards abroad
  • Therefore total spend in April based on these assumptions is £579,371,333 (£344.34 x 1,682,556)
  • If this total spend carried a foreign usage fee of 2.75% holidaymakers would have spent £15,932,711 in charges

***If Nationwide levied a foreign loading charge of 2.75%, its customers would have spent an additional £941,537 in April 2006.

Cost of various purchases totalling £1,000 and two £100 cash withdrawals with a debit card overseas

NBS current account debit card Nationwide NatWest HSBC Lloyds TSB Barclays Halifax
ATM charges Free 2.65% + 2.25% (£4 max) 2.75% + 1.5% (min £1.75) 2.75% + 1.5% (min £2.00, max £4.50) 2.75% + 2% (min £1.50, max £4.50) 2.75% + £1.50
Retail purchases Free 2.65% + 75p 2.75% 2.75% + £1 2.75% 2.75% + £1.50
£100 ATM withdrawal Free £4.90 £4.50 £4.75 £4.75 £4.25
£100 ATM withdrawal Free £4.90 £4.50 £4.75 £4.75 £4.25
New clothes (£50)¹ Free £2.83 £1.38 £3.38 £1.38 £4.38
Train tickets (£150)¹ Free £7.73 £4.13 £9.13 £4.13 £11.63
Restaurant (£120)¹ Free £9.18 £3.30 £11.30 £3.30 £15.30
Food shopping (£100) ¹ Free £10.15 £2.75 £12.75 £2.75 £17.75
General travel (£400)¹ Free £13.60 £11.00 £15.00 £11.00 £17.00
Other (£180)¹ Free £5.52 £4.95 £5.95 £4.95 £6.45
Total Free £58.80 £36.50 £67.00 £37.00 £81.00

1 NatWest charge customers 75p per retail transaction, Lloyds TSB charges £1 per transaction and Halifax charges £1.50 per transaction.

These charges are in addition to the foreign currency loading fees.

Current account debit card illustration: £1,000 purchases

2 X £25 new clothes
5 X £30 train tickets
8 X £15 restaurant
10 X £10 food shopping
4 X £100 general travel
1 X £180 other expenses

Cost of £1,000 worth of purchases and two £100 cash withdrawals with a classic credit card overseas

Nationwide NatWest HSBC Lloyds TSB Barclays Halifax
ATM charges 2% (min £2) 2.75% + 2.5% (£2.50 min) 2.75% + 2.5% (£2.50 min) 2.75% + 2.5% (£2.50 min) 2.75% + 2.5% (£2.50 min) 2.75% + 2.5% (£3 min)
Foreign currency loading fee Free 2.75% 2.75% 2.75% 2.75% 2.75%
£100 ATM withdrawal £2.00 £5.25 £5.25 £5.25 £5.25 £5.75
£100 ATM withdrawal £2.00 £5.25 £5.25 £5.25 £5.25 £5.75
£1,000 retail spend Free £27.50 £27.50 £27.50 £27.50 £27.50
Total £4.00 £38.00 £38.00 £38.00 £38.00 £39.00

Competitor comparison verified by Moneyfacts, March 2007


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