The Dangers Of Debit Cards

07 July 2011 - ICE



Weekly Travel Advice - 07/07/11

2 Weeks to Go Until the School Holidays!

Ways To Avoid Debit Card Charges When Buying Holiday Money

Many holidaymakers will be aware of the benefit of buying currency before travelling to avoid additional charges incurred at airports and when withdrawing money from ATMs or using high street bank cards when abroad.  But, when it comes to buying that travel money, leading foreign currency expert ICE (International Currency Exchange) reveals they are likely to be charged almost £5 with every transaction if they buy currency using their high street debit card.

“Whether it’s £500 of Euros for a family holiday in Spain or Portugal or £1,000 of Dollars for a couple visiting the States, travellers often use their debit cards to buy currency,” confirms Joanna Williams, Head of Marketing at ICE.   “Unfortunately, many of the high street banks, covering 90% of the UK population’s current accounts, impose a fee of up to £4.50 for the privilege of using a debit card.”

ICE is urging holidaymakers to look at alternative ways to buy their foreign currency to avoid incurring unnecessary debit card bank charges.  Travellers buying their currency online, should consider using a bank transfer – it’s a free service, which is offered by most banks*. 


Charges per transaction

Purchase amount (sterling equivalent)

Total charges when using your debit card


1.5% (min £2, max £4.50)




2% (min £1.50, max £4.50)



Lloyds TSB

1.5% (min £2, max £4.50)




1.5% (min £1.99)




1.5% (min £2, max £4.50)




To help holidaymakers, ICE has compiled the following tips on how to make your holiday money go further. 

1. Buy foreign currency in advance of leaving the UK, online or from specialist providers on the high street, to avoid less competitive rates at airports, compare the rates between providers

2. Check the financial security of your chosen provider – are they linked to a bank for example that is FSA regulated?  Does their “About Us” section on the website really tell you who they are and how well-established they are?

3. Having your currency delivered to home? Look out for free postage charge deals for minimum orders; every penny counts!

4. Buying online?  Consider using a bank transfer to avoid debit card charges

5. Take a mixture of local currency and a prepaid card on holiday – enough local currency for when you first arrive and a prepaid card for added security

6. Buying budget airline tickets? Don’t get stung by debit or credit card charges – consider  using a prepaid card to buy your tickets – but shop around as some  providers charge as much as the airline in internet and shop  transaction fees

7. For added security and to help with budgeting, use a prepaid card.  Euro and US Dollar Travellers Cashcards are normally free cards which do not charge a fee to top up.  A prepaid MasterCard, the card is PIN protected and travellers will get the same exchange rate throughout their holiday

8. When in Rome: Do some research on tipping etiquette in your holiday destination to avoid embarrassment and possibly save you money

9. Remember, some countries restrict the amount of cash that can be taken in and out. Don’t get caught out, check before you travel


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