UK plastic cards used 10 times a second abroadAPACS figures show 10% rise in card use overseas

11 June 2009

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Unless you really need to, try not to withdraw cash using your credit card - the interest rates are eye-wateringly high

UK plastic cards were used more than 10 times every second in overseas transactions last year, according to newly published figures from card payment body APACS.

Statistics from APACS show that there were 317 million overseas transactions last year, amounting to just over 3% of all transactions on UK cards.

Britons used their plastic for £27.8 billion worth of overseas transactions – £19.9 billion on credit and debit card purchases and £7.9 billion on cash taken out of cash machines. This was up just over 10% on the total from 2007.

New guide to using your credit and debit cards abroad

To help consumers, APACS and ABTA, the travel association, have published a new consumer advice guide that provides tips for holidaymakers and business travellers who will be using their cards abroad.

Sandra Quinn APACS

Sandra Quinn of UK card payments association APACS

Sandra Quinn, APACS director of communications, said, 'Using your debit or credit card is a convenient and safe way to pay when you’re overseas. However, everyone should be aware that there may be fees or costs connected with using your card in a foreign cash machine or shop. Additionally, card criminals often look to catch us with our defences down when we are on holiday, so we need to take some simple, sensible precautions to help minimise the chances of becoming a victim of fraud.

'The Using Your Card Overseas guide provides useful advice when it comes to using your card abroad, and can help ensure that you're not caught out by any surprising charges and that your trip overseas is free from fraud.'

Tips for using your cards overseas

To coincide with the new guide, APACS has published a range of tips for travellers going abroad this summer:

  • Make sure your card company has up-to-date contact details for you, including a mobile telephone number.
  • Make sure you have the 24-hour contact telephone numbers for each of your cards in case you need to speak to your card company.
  • Some issuers have reduced customers’ credit card limits recently. Make sure the credit limit on your card is sufficient for the spending you intend to make.
  • Safeguard your PIN at all times. Don’t give it to anyone even if they claim to be from the police or your bank.
  • Shield your PIN with your free hand when typing it into a keypad in a shop or at a cash machine.
  • Consider taking more than one card with you as well as some local currency in case you need another payment method to fall back on.

Cut the cost of your holidays

For more details on getting the most of your holiday money, read the Which? guide to cutting the cost of your holiday. This guide includes full details on the best place to get your holiday spending money, the pros and cons of traveller's cheques and everything you need to know about using your credit and debit card abroad.

To find the best credit card for using on holiday, check out our Which? Best Buy credit cards for overseas use.

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