Card charges biggest holiday rip off | will never contact you by phone to sell you any financial product. Any calls like this are not from Moneyfacts. Emails sent by will always be from Be Scamsmart.

MONEYFACTS ARCHIVE. This article was correct at the time of publication. It is now over 6 months old so the content may be out of date.

Derin Clark

Derin Clark

Online Reporter
Published: 30/07/2019

Two-thirds (67%) of parents complained about being ripped off during their last trip abroad, with unforeseen debit charges the biggest complaint, a survey from Post Office Travel Money reveals.

A third of parents who took part in the survey revealed that they were caught out by extra charges averaging £120 on their last holiday. Along with charges for paying on cards while abroad, parents also highlighted the high cost of entry to attractions and excursions, restaurant service charges, meal and drink prices in restaurant and bars, cost of transport in destination and children’s beach extras as adding extra unforeseen costs to their holiday.

How to avoid card charges while abroad

Fortunately for holidaymakers, there are ways to avoid paying charges for using their cards abroad. Changing cash into the local currency before going away gives tourists the ability to pay for small extras in cash, such as ice creams and taxi fares. As well as this, having a travel credit card will provide a way to avoid card charges while still having the convenience of allowing those on holiday to use their card to pay for more expensive items. Those who do choose to pay using a travel credit card should ensure that they pay the full amount off each month to avoid interest being added to their debt. Another option is to use a pre-paid travel card, which requires money to be added to the card prior to the trip and has the advantage of not being attached to a personal bank account, as well as not being a form of credit. Those using these cards should be aware that once the money on the card runs out, they can no longer use the card unless they top it up with extra funds.

Using debit cards abroad

While debit cards are usually not a good idea to use abroad due to the fees charged, there are however some debit cards that are free to use abroad. Starling Bank’s Current Account, for example, doesn’t charge a fee to withdraw money abroad or to use the debit card while overseas. Monzo Bank will charge 0% for withdrawals up to £200 (per 30-day rolling period) and then 3% on withdrawals over £200, while there are no fees for card transactions. Metro Bank’s Current Account is a good option for those holidaying in Europe as it doesn’t charge for withdrawals or card transactions, but it does charge a 2.99% fee for withdrawals outside Europe although card transactions remain free.

How to protect your money while on holiday

One of the biggest financial dangers to threaten holidaymakers as they travel abroad is having their cash and cards lost or stolen while away. Travel insurance will often include protection for cash and cards as part of their policies, which helps to provide tourists with peace of mind that their holiday money will be protected while abroad. To compare travel insurance policies, a selection of the best travel insurance providers in 2019 can be found here.


Information is correct as of the date of publication (shown at the top of this article). Any products featured may be withdrawn by their provider or changed at any time. Links to third parties on this page are paid for by the third party. You can find out more about the individual products by visiting their site. will receive a small payment if you use their services after you click through to their site. All information is subject to change without notice. Please check all terms before making any decisions. This information is intended solely to provide guidance and is not financial advice. Moneyfacts will not be liable for any loss arising from your use or reliance on this information. If you are in any doubt, Moneyfacts recommends you obtain independent financial advice.

camera hat and sunglasses on wooden table

Cookies will, like most other websites, place cookies onto your device. This includes tracking cookies.

I accept. Read our Cookie Policy