Brits Abroad Pay Up To £391 Million For Withdrawing Money Abroad From Cash Machines

11 July 2011

New research(2) from Sainsbury’s Travel Money reveals that an estimated £14.2 billion was withdrawn by British holidaymakers on debit cards and credit cards whilst travelling abroad in the past year, costing holidaymakers £391 million collectively in withdrawal fees.

While it’s commonly accepted that you may pay a fee or a minimum charge for withdrawing cash abroad using a debit or credit card, travellers may not realise that the majority of prepaid currency cards also levy individual transaction fees. Holidaymakers relying on prepaid money cards to withdraw cash abroad are also being hit in the pocket, as the research(3)reveals that two thirds (65.3%) of these cards charge customers to access their money abroad.

It is important holidaymakers realise not all prepaid currency cards are the same. For those that charge, the average fee for a withdrawal within the Eurozone is €1.88, with the most expensive provider charging €3 for every transaction. Furthermore, the findings reveal that one in 20 (6.1%) of the prepaid cards on the market even charge customers to check their balance.

The findings reveal that £11.5 billion was withdrawn on debit cards in ATMs outside the UK by 14.8 million people in the past year, an average of £778 per person. Approximately half (49.5%) of holidaymakers claimed to have withdrawn money on their debit cards abroad.

Overseas credit card withdrawals were less common, with around 3.7 million people (7.8% of holidaymakers) admitting to withdrawing a collective £2.6 billion on credit cards, an average of £726 each.

With typical withdrawal fees of 2.75%(3) for both debit and credit cards, Sainsbury’s Finance estimates that holidaymakers spent an extra £391 million accessing their own money while overseas in the last year. This equates to £41 per year for a typical customer withdrawing on both their debit and credit card. Of course this is even before you consider any fees levied by the providers of the ATM itself, like here, they’re not all free to use in the first place.

While there is no difference between the debit card usage of men and women abroad (50.0% to 49.5% respectively), men are around 50% more likely than women to use their credit cards to withdraw cash while overseas. However, while fewer women use overseas ATMs to withdraw cash, those that do withdraw considerably more on average. Around 15.2% of men used their credit cards to withdraw foreign currency, typically taking out £645 over the last year, compared with one in ten (10.4%) of women, who withdrew a higher average of £852 each.
David Barrett, Head of Sainsbury’s Travel Money, said: “As a nation, we spend a huge amount every year on our holidays. A person withdrawing the average amount on their debit and credit cards whilst on holiday will spend £41 per year purely to access their cash – and that’s before looking at other incurred costs. Indeed there are only a handful of credit cards, such as our own Gold Card, that don’t charge withdrawal fees at overseas ATMs.”

“Prepaid cards can be an excellent way to make your money go that little bit further, providing you choose carefully. It’s important to shop around and know what you’re getting, as many people get stung by charges they weren’t anticipating. As a result those who withdraw smaller sums from ATMs on a frequent basis could be paying well over the odds for their holiday cash.”

Along with the savings benefits of using a charge-free prepaid card, travellers can also benefit from the ability to acquire a replacement card so there’s no risk of losing your money. With the Sainsbury’s Cash PassportTM (1) there’s a 24/7 emergency service and a free replacement up to the value of the card’s balance should the worst happen.

To find out more about Sainsbury’s Travel Money log or call 0845 30 12 724. Customers can arrange foreign exchange in selected Sainsbury’s stores.  Terms and conditions apply.

 Ends –

For further information, please contact:

Tom Wilson
Citigate Dewe Rogerson
020 7282 2842

Notes to editors:

(1)  Some ATM operators may charge a withdrawal fee or set their own withdrawal limits – however, Travelex will not charge you a withdrawal fee on ATM transactions.

(2)  ICM interviewed a random sample of 2005 adults aged 18+ via online between 23nd – 24th March 2011.  Surveys were conducted across the country and the results have been weighted (grossed-up) to the profile of all adults (over 18s).  ICM is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules.  Further information at

(3)  According to Moneynet market research conducted on 13.4.11

(4) According to Money Saving Expert (link)
About Sainsbury’s Travel Money

Sainsbury’s Travel Money offers a range of benefits including very competitive exchange rates, commission free foreign currency, travellers cheques and the Cash PassportTM prepaid currency card (only available in store).

In addition, free next-day delivery to your billing address, if ordered by 12pm, is available for orders over £500. It also rewards Nectar Card holders with preferential exchange rates on Euros and US Dollars transactions made at Sainsbury’s in-store Travel Money Bureaux.

About Sainsbury’s Cash Passport

Sainsbury’s Travel Money offers the Cash PassportTM with no ATM fees(1) . The card allows you to pre-load money onto the card and you can choose from six different foreign currencies, including Euro and US Dollar, plus Pounds Sterling. It is Chip and PIN protected and offers a 24/7 Global Emergency Assistance service with free replacement fund up to available balance on the card. The card is not linked to your personal bank account. Travelex Cash Passport is issued by and remains the property of R. Raphael & Sons plc. Registered no. 1288938. Registered office: Albany Court Yard,47/48 Piccadilly, London W1J 0LR.

Sainsbury’s Finance:

To view our latest press releases and product information, please visit the Sainsbury’s Finance online media centre

Sainsbury’s was the first major British supermarket to open a bank, commencing trading in February 1997. Benefiting from a fantastic, trusted brand that enables us to combine the shopping experience with personal finance, Sainsbury’s Finance provides a range of quality products including insurances, credit cards, savings and loans. Our proposition is to make shopping more rewarding by offering customers great products at fair prices, while consistently rewarding shoppers for their loyalty and being easy to do business with at all times.  Our products consistently top Best Buy tables and regularly win awards for quality, price and service.

Sainsbury’s Finance recent awards include Best Overall Online Provider, Best Direct Personal Loans Provider, Best Online Credit Card Provider, Best Online Life Insurance Provider at the Your Money Awards 2010.

Sainsbury’s Finance is a joint venture between J.Sainsbury plc and Lloyds Banking Group.

For further information and general Sainsbury’s Finance enquiries customers can call the freephone number on 0500 40 50 60 or visit

About Travelex:

Travelex is the world’s foreign exchange and international payments specialist. Operating through subsidiaries and branches in three regions: Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA); Americas and Asia Pacific.

As one of the world’s leading providers of outsourced travel money to banks, travel agencies and other retailers it provides products including its prepaid travel card Cash Passport to over three million channel customers annually. Through its world-leading automation Travelex offers consumers a full range of delivery channel options including telephone and web-based ordering.