UK holidaymakers pack their payment cards as £26 billion spent abroad

Source: UK Cards Association

For the first time annual overseas card spending figures have been published that do not include transactions from UK internet retailers made in pound sterling but processed abroad, giving a clearer picture of how people spend their money when overseas.

Last year UK holidaymakers spent £26.4 billion using their cards overseas making almost 14 transactions every second, according to figures from The UK Cards Association.

In total UK issued debit, credit and charge cards were used to make 440 million purchases abroad in 2014, as people took advantage of the benefits of security and ease of using their cards overseas.

While in the UK four-fifths (80 per cent) of all card purchases were made using debit cards; transactions abroad were more evenly split with 51 per cent (224 million) made on credit and charge cards.

By total value, credit and charge card spending overseas outstripped debit last year, suggesting consumers preferred credit cards for more expensive items such as hotel bills and car hire, as well as the benefit of consumer protection on purchases. In total £15.8 billion was spent on credit and charge cards abroad, compared to £10.6 billion on debit cards.

Richard Koch, Head of Policy at The UK Cards Association, said:

“With UK consumers spending £72 million every day on their cards overseas, it’s clear that holidaymakers are making sure they pack their cards when they go abroad. Not only is it a secure, convenient and often cheaper way to pay when on holiday, cards also make it easier to keep track of exactly what you’re spending.”

UK consumers also used their cards to withdraw £6.02 billion in cash while abroad last year, making a total of 53 million visits to overseas ATMs and bank counters. The vast majority (88% or £5.33 billion) of these cash withdrawals were made using debit cards. The average debit card cash withdrawal overseas was £114, much higher than the average in the UK of £69.

Consumers benefit from using their cards overseas through competitive exchange rates, additional legal protection on purchases and the convenience of not having to exchange Travellers Cheques or currency. In addition, unlike cash, if a card is lost or stolen and the customer is a victim of card fraud, they will get your money back.

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