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Holidaymakers Stung By Hidden Currency Charges

Two thirds of holidaymakers fail to consider hidden fees/charges when it comes to buying currency

Despite 94% of Brits proclaiming to be ‘money-savvy’1 , a startling amount continue to leave themselves open to a currency rip-off when heading abroad.

Of those surveyed by my Travel Cash, a prepaid MasterCard® Currency Card, only 30% claimed fees/charges were an important factor, while nearly half thought shopping around for the best deal ended with exchange rates alone.

On the face of it, a slightly better exchange rate may look like the obvious choice when choosing a prepaid card, but those who look no further are at risk of being stung, simply by underestimating the other fees and charges. In most cases, these are kept to a minimum, but prepaid card culprits can mount up additional charges of up to €30 for individual loading fees, issue fees, redemption fees and replacement card fees, not to mention a €1.50 charge every time you use an ATM in Europe2 – a costly penalty for gaining a decimal point advantage at the time of purchase.

In 2012, Consumer Focus launched a super complaint to investigate the lack of transparency when it comes to charges, which was met with much enthusiasm from the general public and press, yet a year on, it’s surprising to see how little importance consumers give to considering these ‘hidden’ charges.

Myles Stephenson, CEO of my Travel Cash, who welcomed the Office of Fair Trading’s investigation into industry charges in 2012, comments on why holidaymakers shouldn’t take currency exchange rates at face value, and dig a bit deeper:

“Hidden charges and fees are talked about so much, we automatically assume consumers are wise to this, so needless to say we were very surprised to see how low they ranked in terms of consideration. A contributing factor to this may be the fact that many holidaymakers wait until the weekend before they travel to sort currency, and so it becomes more a case of quick glance at the best exchange rate than weighing up the whole package.

“To prevent any nasty surprises while on holiday or on return, consumers should take some extra time to look at the product or provider in the round, making sure they know exactly what to expect.”

my Travel Cash offers prepaid currency cards in Euro, US Dollar or Multi-Currency denominations.  Visit for information about terms, fees or to order a card by completing the short form. An Express Delivery option is available allowing cards to be delivered in just 1-3 working days. 

my Travel Cash charges no ATM withdrawal fees*, no fees on purchases and no fee to receive a card. Minimum load is £30 all of which is available for you to spend once you receive your card.

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*While my Travel Cash does not charge an ATM fee, some ATM providers may apply an additional surcharge. Withdrawing GB Pounds using the Multi-Currency Card incurs a 2.99% fee.

1Quidco, 2013

2Example of FairFX Euro card fees 13.03.13 including card issue fee £9.95, replacement fee €9 and redemption processing fee £10 as well as charging €1.50 for every ATM withdrawal.