Two in five Moneywise readers mainly use credit cards abroad

Stephanie Hawthorne
25 May 2018

People living in the UK make some 70 million visits overseas every year, many of them holiday trips, spending a massive £43.8 billion according to Office for National Statistics analysis.

No doubt many of our readers are also looking forward to a holiday in the sun this summer, but what about the thorny question of spending money?

Our latest poll asked readers whether they plan to use card or cash abroad.

Out of the 534 polled, 38% use a credit card for most of their holiday needs. This a wise choice, as credit cards have been found to be the cheapest way to spend abroad. An evening meal that costs €25 would attract, on average, between 31p and 66p in charges on a credit card.

Poll results

Debit cards are not so popular, with only 8% using them as their main way to spend overseas. Surprisingly, overseas charges on debit cards are higher than for credit cards. However, withdrawing cash from an ATM using a credit card abroad or at home can be eye-wateringly expensive, often attracting higher interest rates.

Quite a number of you are not too keen on the plastic, with 35% looking for the best exchange rate and taking cash. This is fine as far as it goes but carrying large amounts of cash while abroad also carries the risk of theft or loss.

Disappointingly, 4% of those polled don’t shop around for their foreign currency. Some even buy their cash at the airport, which can be an expensive mistake, with some airports’ exchange rates nudging €1 for £1.

There are also a fair number of people (9%) who use a pre-paid currency card for most payments. Pre-paid cards have high fees, according to Defaqto, or other catches such as high reloading or renewal fees.

Some have expensive non-Sterling exchange fees and should be avoided. These kinds of cards will often attract issues when any kind of pre-authorised payment (such as at a petrol station or car rental) is required.

Thanks to the 534 people who voted. Please take a moment to vote in our new poll, which asks what do you use your credit cards for?

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