Press release:

Holidaymakers put £9.7 billion on plastic to fund their fun in the sun

  • More than half of British holidaymakers (57%) are using credit to help fund their foreign getaways this year[1]
  • A total of £9.7 billion is being put on plastic to pay for summer holidays across the country – amounting to an average of £473 per person[2]
  • Half of all holidaymakers (50%) admit they will use their cards while abroad, despite as many (50%) not being clear about the fees their bank or credit card providers charge on overseas transactions[3]
  • Two in five (42%) of those with holiday credit card debt estimate it will take two months or more to clear their debt, resulting in millions still paying off their summer fun by the time the clocks go back[4]
  • uSwitch.com urges consumers to research bank charges for international transactions to ensure fees are kept to a minimum and, if necessary, switch to a more suitable card.

More than half of British holidaymakers (57%) are relying on credit to help fund their fun in the sun this summer[1], according to research from uSwitch.com, the price comparison and switching service, putting £9.7 billion on plastic this summer to help pay for their holidays abroad[2]. On average, each holidaymaker will slap £473 onto their credit card, including flights and accommodation[2].

While abroad, half (50%) put their holiday activities on their credit card, despite having no idea what their credit card provider charges for international transactions[3]. Leaving holidaymakers with a bigger bill than they bargained for upon their return to the UK, with the average consumer paying 2.85% in transaction fees and as much as £5 in withdrawal fees on each foreign transaction[6].

Holidaymakers will feel the pinch long after their summer tans have faded, as two in five (42%) have estimated that it will take at least two months to pay off their debt[4]. Millions will still be paying off their summer fun after the clocks have gone back with accumulated interest an unwelcome double whammy.

uSwitch.com is urging consumers to research bank and credit card charges for international transactions to fully understand what they are being charged for and to ensure any fees they pay are kept to a minimum.

Tashema Jackson, money expert at uSwitch.com, says: “It’s great to get away on holiday, but millions of us are choosing to pay for our foreign breaks on credit. For those who can pay off their bill immediately, the additional protection a credit card offers is a great benefit. But the truth is, for many of us, it is taking months to pay off.

“With the summer holidays just around the corner, we’d urge those jetting off to sunnier climes to ensure they have the right card for their travels. If you intend to spend on your card, the charges and fees can quickly add up, and leave you nursing a larger than expected debt upon your return. It pays to double check what those costs will actually be, and then if necessary, have the cash you need to hand, to help keep your costs down.

“For those really struggling with their debt, speak to your bank and see if they can help. If you are still concerned, charities such as StepChange offer free and impartial advice to help get your debt under control.”

Find out how you could save over £1,000 a year with uSwitch here.

— ends —

Notes to editors

  1. When asked ‘When booking your holiday abroad, how did / will you pay for each of the following?’, 57% of respondents selected ‘Credit Card’ when given the options of flights, accommodation, activities and car.
  2. Calculation based on number of adults in the UK over 18yrs which, according to ONS, is 51.7 million. Subtract 2 million UK adults who don’t have bank accounts from the Financial Inclusion Commission and that leaves 49.7 million. When asked ‘Have you booked, or already been on a holiday abroad in 2018?’, 72% of respondents selected ‘Yes – I have been on holiday’, ‘Yes – I have booked a holiday I haven’t yet been on’ and ‘I haven’t booked yet, but am planning to’. 72% of 49.7million is 35.7million. When asked ‘When booking your holiday abroad, how did / will you pay for each of the following?’, 57% of respondents selected ‘Credit Card’ when given the options of Flights, Accommodation, Activities and Car. 57% of 35.7million is 20.3million. When asked ‘Thinking of your holiday abroad in 2018, how much did you / do you expect to spend in total on your credit card once on holiday?’, the average from respondents who have a credit card and plan to use it on holiday amounted to £473. 20.3million people multiplied by £473 results in £9.7billion being put on credit cards.
  3. When asked ‘Once abroad, how did you, or are you, planning to pay for your holiday expenses (food, activities etc.)?’ 50% of respondents selected ‘Credit Cards’ and when asked ‘Do you know how much your bank will charge you for using your credit or debit card abroad?’, 50% of respondents selected ‘No’ or ‘Not sure’.
  4. When asked, ‘When returning from an overseas holiday, how long does it take you to pay off your holiday debt?’, 42% of respondents selected answers longer than one month.
  5. When asked ‘Have you booked, or already been on a holiday abroad in 2018?’, 58% of respondents selected ‘Yes – I have been on holiday’, and ‘Yes – I have booked a holiday I haven’t yet been’.
  6. Average calculated by taking 10 high street bank credit card rates.

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