Ask Sindie: A wall of card charges overseas

How can we avoid high fees for using our plastic abroad?


Q: My wife and I racked up over £60 in fees on a Lloyds TSB credit card last year during a break in Berlin. They were levied simply for paying in restaurants and for goods in stores and getting money from an ATM.

We're going back next month but are determined not to pay such astronomical fees.

Are there any particular cards you would recommend? Both of us have decent credit records.

HC, Manchester

A: It's estimated that Britons abroad will pick up more than £600m in charges on credit and debit cards this year, according to Apacs, the payments body.

This mountain of charges includes a currency conversion (usually 2.75 per cent) on all transactions; up to £2 at an ATM; a higher "cash advance" annual percentage rate (APR) for using a card at the cashpoint; and something called a "dynamic currency conversion".

With the latter charge, consumers are asked if they'd rather settle their bill in sterling. If they say "yes", they will pay at a local exchange rate rather than that on their lender's card - and so end up being ripped off with a higher rate.

Keeping a lid on all these charges isn't easy as nearly all lenders apply them, albeit at different levels.

Moneysupermarket.com, the price-comparison website, has just reviewed its top five credit cards for use overseas. Its preferred plastic is from Nationwide building society. This has no currency loading fee for transactions in stores or restaurants in Europe, and levies only a 1.5 per cent (minimum £1.50) fee at the ATM, with an APR of 16.9.

Alternatively, it suggests Cahoot. This has a lower cash advance APR of 11.8 but levies a 2.25 per cent currency loading fee.

To avoid charges altogether, you could open a Nationwide FlexAccount. Its debit card won't charge you for using ATMs or for buying goods in store.

However, following a recent Court of Appeal ruling, people who use a credit card abroad will now have their payments protected against faulty goods. The same rights do not apply if using a debit card overseas.

If you need help from our consumer champion, write to Sindie at The Independent on Sunday, Independent House, 191 Marsh Wall, London E14 9RS or email sindie@independent.co.uk. We cannot return documents, give personal replies or guarantee to answer letters. We accept no legal responsibility for advice given.

Finacial products from our partners
Property search
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Money & Business

    Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager - B2B, Corporate - City, London

    £45000 - £50000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...

    Neil Pavier: Commercial Analyst

    £50,000 - £55,000: Neil Pavier: Are you a professionally qualified commercial ...

    Loren Hughes: Financial Accountant

    £45,000 - £55,000: Loren Hughes: Are you looking for a new opportunity that wi...

    Sheridan Maine: Finance Analyst

    Circa £45,000-£50,000 + benefits: Sheridan Maine: Are you a newly qualified ac...

    Day In a Page

    General Election 2015: The masterminds behind the scenes

    The masterminds behind the election

    How do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? By employing these people
    Machine Gun America: The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons

    Machine Gun America

    The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons
    The ethics of pet food: Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?

    The ethics of pet food

    Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?
    How Tansy Davies turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

    How a composer turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

    Tansy Davies makes her operatic debut with a work about the attack on the Twin Towers. Despite the topic, she says it is a life-affirming piece
    11 best bedside tables

    11 best bedside tables

    It could be the first thing you see in the morning, so make it work for you. We find night stands, tables and cabinets to wake up to
    Italy vs England player ratings: Did Andros Townsend's goal see him beat Harry Kane and Wayne Rooney to top marks?

    Italy vs England player ratings

    Did Townsend's goal see him beat Kane and Rooney to top marks?
    Danny Higginbotham: An underdog's tale of making the most of it

    An underdog's tale of making the most of it

    Danny Higginbotham on being let go by Manchester United, annoying Gordon Strachan, utilising his talents to the full at Stoke and plunging into the world of analysis
    Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police

    Steve Bunce: Inside Boxing

    Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police
    No postcode? No vote

    Floating voters

    How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
    Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

    By Reason of Insanity

    Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
    Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

    Power dressing is back

    But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
    Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

    Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

    Caves were re-opened to the public
    'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

    Vince Cable interview

    'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
    Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

    Promises, promises

    But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
    The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

    The death of a Gaza fisherman

    He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat