Sneaky credit cards tricks for your holidays

credit card and dollarsLM Otero/AP/Press Association Images

Coming home after the summer break is never an easy thing, but for many people the process becomes just a bit harder, as they return to a nasty surprise from their credit card company.

New research reveals that 15 million people could be caught out by sneaky credit card tricks on their holiday this summer, so what do you need to watch for?

Huge spending

Around £10.2 billion is spent by Brits abroad on their plastic every year. More than half of us have done it at some point in the past, and almost a quarter have done so in the last 12 months.

In many ways it's the sensible choice, as it saves you from carrying too much cash, or having to deal with the irritations of travellers' cheques. However, there are a number of terms and conditions lurking in the small print which can catch out the unwary traveller.
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There are five common ways your cards can catch you out - and the research, by Moneysupermarket.com revealed that we may be at risk of all five.

The tricks

1. If you withdraw cash abroad from an ATM using a credit card you will be charged interest from the day you take the money out: rather than giving you a month to pay the bill before charges are imposed. Oddly, despite the fact that the rules are the same for withdrawing cash in the UK, 54% of people didn't know about the charge.

2. If you take money out of an ATM with a debit card or a credit card you will also be charged a transaction fee of £1.50 or more - and holidaymakers will not know the exchange rate they have accepted until their statement arrives weeks later.

3. According to the research, 49% of people didn't realise that they could be charged a transaction fee for using their card in a different country. This is simply added on top of spending and currency conversion charges. This can include a fixed transaction fee from a debit card or a percentage 'load' from your credit card.

4. More than half of all travellers are also caught out by accepting when a retailer offers them the opportunity to pay in pounds rather than the local currency. This is known as dynamic currency conversion, and typically a holidaymaker will be charged around 4% extra for using pounds. Monysupermarket found that 57% had no idea of the additional cost.

Separate research from Caxton FX found that 40% of Brits would opt to pay for goods in pounds when using their debit or credit card instead of the local currency when abroad.

5. Apparently 41% confessed they weren't aware that the transaction on a credit card abroad will be converted at the credit card company's exchange rate - which they will only discover when their credit card bills arrives.

Advice

Bob Atkinson, travel expert at MoneySupermarket.com said: "Some debit and credit cards should only be used abroad in an emergency unless they are specifically designed for overseas usage. If you are planning to use cards abroad then it pays to be clued up on all the charges involved in doing so before you jet off."

There are a number of credit and debit cards specifically designed for overseas use abroad that are worth considering. The Sainsbury's Gold Credit Card charges no interest on ATM withdrawals if the balance is paid in full at the end of the month and there is no ATM withdrawal or foreign exchange fees, although the card does have a £5 monthly fee.

Atkinson added: "If you are planning to take out a card specifically to use abroad, plan ahead and don't leave it until the last minute as you have to allow at least ten working days to receive the card from the date of application."

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