The Fixer: credit card bill shock

One reader was hit with hefty charges after a holiday in Spain

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Have you been left out of pocket due to poor service or sharp practice? Do you have a money problem that won't go away?

It can seem impossible to get a fair result when you are battling a financial issue alone. But never fear! The AOL Money Fixer is here to help.


Dear Fixer,
I went on holiday to Spain in July. Before I went, I used my Barclaycard to buy some traveller's cheques to change while I was out there.

I usually pay no interest on the card because I pay it off every month. But my latest bill is huge and includes interest charges dating from the day I bought the traveller's cheques.

Is this normal? I thought that I had until the end of the month to clear the balance before interest started being charged.

S Brown, London

Dear Mr Brown,

It is true that you generally get about 50 days to clear your credit card balance before interest is charged.

However, interest on cash advances, or withdrawals, is charged from the day of the transaction.

And foreign currency purchases, including traveller's cheques, are treated as cash withdrawals by most credit card providers.

The rate at which interest is charged is also higher than the one you pay on ordinary transactions.

With your card, it is 27.9%, rather than 19.9%. So unfortunately, it is normal that your bill is so high this month.

To prevent this happening again, I would advise you to avoid using you credit card for cash withdrawals, foreign currency purchases and gambling transactions such as buying chips in a casino - as these are all treated as cash advances.

The Fixer

Whatever your financial problem, write to themoneyfixer@aim.com and The AOL Money Fixer will get on the case.

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