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Britons pay more than £260m annually in ATM withdrawal fees on holiday

Britons pay more than £260m annually in ATM withdrawal fees on holiday

A new poll by one of the UK’s leading online independent travel agencies has revealed the true cost of withdrawing money from foreign ATMs whilst away on holiday, with Britons facing a total bill of more than £260m annually simply for taking cash out on their credit and debit cards abroad.

When it comes to holidays abroad, spending money and financial security whilst away is often at the forefront of a holidaymaker’s mind. New research by a leading online independent travel agency in the UK has revealed that some British holidaymakers may have had a bit of a shock when they checked their credit card balance following their trip. carried out the poll as part of ongoing research into the holiday habits of Britons, specifically aiming to find out more about spending habits whilst on holiday. 2,107 Britons responded to the poll, each of whom had been abroad on holiday in 2011.

Initially, respondents were asked if, on their last holiday, they withdrew cash from an ATM using their credit or debit card, to which the majority, 67%, said that they did. They were then asked to state the amount, approximately, they had been charged for doing so, to which the average answer amounted £2.75 in GBP.

All respondents who said they had used an ATM abroad on their last holiday were asked how many times they had visited a cash point to take money out, to which the average answer was ‘5’ over the duration of the stays. When taking the charges into account, that would amount to fees of £13.75 per holidaymaker for withdrawing money on holiday.


According to the Office for National Statistics, there were 36.2 million holiday visits abroad made by UK residents in 2011. Approximately 28,598,000m adults make up this figure, going by 4:1 ratio adult:child in the UK. Considering that 67% of adult UK holidaymakers used a credit card to withdraw money at a cash point on their last holiday and each was charged £13.75 on average per holiday, for the privilege, that would equate to £263,459,075 spent on charges for withdrawals at ATMs.

Respondents were asked ‘Did you have any nasty surprises, in terms of bank or credit charges, when you returned home from your last holiday?’ to which more than half, 53%, answered ‘yes’.

Chris Clarkson, co-founder of, spoke about the study;

“There’s nothing worse than getting home from a nice relaxing holiday, which cost a fair amount to go on in the first place, only to be hit extra charges like credit card withdrawal fees. To avoid such a scenario, I would recommend making sure you have enough spending money to take with you and look into loading it up on to a pre-paid card.

“Also, you need to ask yourself if they money your withdrawing is cash you really need. Do you really need those fridge magnets and tacky souvenirs to take home for friends and family? Probably not! Planning is key; work out how much you will need for the duration of your break and work out the pros and cons of various spending methods. Often, paying on card is a lot more reasonable.”