• Last year Brits wasted £1.8 bn when spending abroad
• 56 per cent of travellers think foreign spending charges are unfair
Brits nipping off to NYC for a bit of Christmas shopping or jetting off to soak up some winter sun should be warned travellers wasted £1.8bn* when spending abroad in the last year.
Research conducted by YouGov on behalf of prepaid currency card provider FairFX Plc revealed Brits spent as much as £20bn cash and £10.3bn on credit and debit cards on foreign trips in the past 12 months.
However, sneaky charges imposed when withdrawing cash from foreign ATMs or using credit or debit cards mean Brits could unknowingly be wasting up to eight pence in every pound of their well-earned holiday cash. Indeed, the survey showed more than half (56 per cent) of travellers think these charges are unfair and one in 10 (11 per cent) find them confusing.
The research marks the launch of a unique new travel money service from FairFX Plc. The service is based around a brand new MasterCard card, the FairFX currency card, which is available in Euros and US dollars.
Typically, consumers buying currency before travel at the airport or on the high street, or using their bank’s debit or credit cards overseas may believe they are getting ‘0 per cent cost’ or ‘0 per cent commission’ foreign currency. The reality is they are paying hidden costs by way of the poor rate of exchange they receive. The FairFX currency card is the first prepaid card to tackle this by providing a simpler, better deal for consumers.
Unlike a traditional debit or credit card FairFX offers greater fraud protection because the potential for loss is limited to any unused balance on the card – good news considering card fraud abroad has risen 126 per cent in the last year.**
Stephen Heath, Chief Executive of FairFX Plc, said: “Travellers get hit every way they turn when spending abroad. Either they have to rely on carrying unwieldy and unsecured amounts of cash, suffer punitive charges for withdrawing cash from ATMs or use a debit or credit card which not only inflicts more hefty charges but also subjects them to a growing risk of fraud.
“Prepaid currency cards are the modern way for consumers to spend money abroad. They are convenient, safe and in the case of the FairFX card, offer some of the best exchange rates around.”
The research also analysed how British travellers spend their holiday money. Handy cash is the preferred payment method for 74 per cent of Brits abroad, with 76 per cent saying they choose it for its convenience. 29 per cent spend on a Visa card, 25 per cent on a Maestro / Switch card and 22 per cent use a Mastercard.
With the growing use of prepay systems such as the Barclaycard One Pulse, more consumers than ever are expected to use prepaid currency cards for their holiday spending. FairFX’s research showed 40 per cent of Brits are prepared to consider using such a card.
Heath added: “We want to revolutionise the way currency is bought in the UK and launch a completely new proposition that is convenient and transparently-priced. Whatever people’s travel habits we expect a prepaid currency card will become the payment method of choice for savvy British travellers.”
FairFX offers an instant and simple-to-complete online application process. FairFX’s unique and innovative technology allows users simply to pre-load their card with a desired amount and use it when abroad as they would any debit card. Application and loading is all conducted online and users can check their balance whenever and wherever needed. FairFX will soon launch mobile top-ups via SMS.
Monday 19 November 2007, 10:52am