Getting money out from ATM machines when you’re abroad may be a convenient way of accessing funds but can prove to be very expensive. We used to use traveller cheques or even get a large amount of cash out prior to leaving the country, but why should we? Why should things be anything different in terms of our current account cash withdrawals when we cross the English Channel? Because of these fees holiday transactions can prove to be a bit of a bonus day for UK banks building societies. Many high street banks and UK money providers are charging substantial fees for overseas transactions and it has been discovered, they are hiding details of those fees on their websites and statements – thus not making it clear. You are being warned that if you make multiple cash withdrawals and transactions whilst abroad (which many of us do) you could come back home to a big shock on your statement. New research by consumer watchdog which reveals some banks charge exorbitant fees for overseas transactions with details often hidden away on providers’ websites or undisclosed on statements. Which compared the amount charged by the country’s seven biggest banks and building societies, Barclays, Lloyds TSB, Santander, Natwest, HSBC, N&P and Halifax, for the same €5.95 (£4.94) debit card purchase and a €20 ATM withdrawal.
So who came out top? Norwich and Peterborough (N&P) Building Society’s Gold Light current account was identified as the cheapest to use abroad as account holders aren’t charged any fees for overseas use. In comparison, it was discovered that Halifax charged 33 per cent more than N&P. Halifax’s fees also charged 29 per cent more than both HSBC and Barclays. Lloyds TSB charged 15% more than N&P for the ATM withdrawal. Additional transactional fees can make card purchases even more expensive. For example, 10 transactions of £50 made with a Halifax debit card would cost the cardholder £28.75. The same 10 transactions made with N&P would be free.
There was further confusion highlighted for the customer as which also found it difficult to calculate how the foreign loading fees had been calculated using the bank statements alone. HSBC, Halifax and Lloyds TSB included their foreign loading fee as part of the exchange rate. Santander showed only the exchange rate with no mention of the foreign loading fee, even though it had charged one. Ewan Edwards, head of current accounts at N&P said: “The new Gold Classic Current Account has been very good news for our customers, because it gives them a number of extra benefits at no cost. It is particularly useful for those who travel abroad and want the flexibility and security of using their debit card instead of taking a large amount of local currency with them. Customers have used their debit cards and saved money everywhere from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe and even in Timbuktu!” Andrew Hagger, spokesman for personal finance website Moneynet.co.uk said: “Debit card charges for overseas transactions continue to be a major bugbear for consumers. Many customers choose their current account based upon the credit or debit interest rates, yet for people who travel abroad, a fee free debit card could save them far more over the course of a year. With some providers charging 2.75% plus £1.50 per transaction, it’s no surprise that usage of the N&P debit card has more than doubled in the last year.”
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