Foreign cash withdrawals prove expensive for bank customers

Published on 1 January 1970 by Raffick Marday

Although it is often advised as the being the best way to avoid commission charges levied by Bureaux de Change or other currency exchange services, using a cash machine to withdraw money while abroad carries the risk of unexpected charges, according to a new report.

Every time you use an ATM when overseas you spend on average £6, calculations by Norwich & Peterborough Building Society have revealed.

Banks' transaction fees and conversion charges can cost holidaymakers thousands of pounds collectively just to get access to their own money while abroad, the new data revealed.

With Spain continuing to be one of the most popular tourist destinations, a British traveller taking cash out of a ‘hole in the wall’ on the Costa del Sol would be charged on average an extra £6.81 to withdraw £143.37.

The charges come in two sections, with a card transaction charge which is usually around 2% of the amount withdrawn, and a further currency conversion charge of 2.75% or 2.99% in most cases.

Norwich & Peterborough Building Society’s head of current accounts, Ewan Edwards, said: "Choosing a debit card that provides free use abroad will take away the concern about what extra fees they could be hit with during their trip."

Alternatively, holidaymakers could benefit from taking a prepaid card. This is loaded with currency before departing from the UK and can help you stick to a pre-set budget.

Different banks charge various rates, but to withdraw £250 it would cost almost £12 for customers of First Direct, NatWest and HSBC. Nationwide customers only face a charge of half that amount.

The research also revealed that depending on where you are in the world you will pay different amounts to use cash machines to withdraw money. Germany topped the ranking as the cheapest place to access your cash, as a withdrawal of £101.64 would end up costing only an extra £4.83.

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