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We know what you spent last summer: Holidaymakers put £9.7 billion on plastic to pay for summer holidays

  • More than half of British holidaymakers (57%) used their credit cards to help fund their fun in the sun this year

  • A total of £9.7 billion was put on plastic this summer – amounting to an average of £473 per person

  • Two in five (42%) of those with holiday debt estimate they’ll still be paying it off in two months or more, leaving millions suffering a summer debt hangover in the run up to ‘spending season’

  • Half of all holidaymakers (50%) admit they have used their cards while abroad, despite half (50%) of them not knowing exactly what fees their bank or credit card providers would charge on overseas transactions

  • urges consumers to evaluate their holiday debt and use September to get their get finances under control ahead of the most expensive part of the year.

Over half of British holidaymakers (57%) have relied on credit over the summer to help fund their fun in the sun, racking up substantial debt, according to research from, the price comparison and switching service. Having put £9.7 billion on plastic this summer to help pay for holidays, consumers are now experiencing a ‘summer fun hangover’ and potentially months of tightened spending.

On average, each holidaymaker put £473 onto their credit card this summer, including flights and accommodation. This summer spending splurge will leave millions of households paying off their debt long into the cold, rainy months, with two in five (42%) taking at least two months to pay it all off.

While abroad, half (50%) chose to put their holiday activities on plastic, despite having no idea what their credit card provider charges them for doing so. This has left many holidaymakers with a bigger bill than they bargained for, as the banks charge an average commission of 2.85% on each overseas transaction and in some instances add on an additional £5 each time the card is used abroad.

With the accumulated interest compounding the issue, is urging consumers returning home following a summer of spending to evaluate their holiday debt. Then make the most of September to get their get finances under control ahead of the most expensive time of the year.

Tashema Jackson, money expert at, says: “The summer holidays can be an expensive time of year, and the only way many of us can make it through is to use our credit cards. However, there are consequences and millions of consumers are taking months to pay off their summer debt and won’t have balanced the books long after those days on the beach are but a distant memory.

“If you have returned home feeling the burden of your holiday spending, you don’t have to suffer in silence. For many, sorting out our finances is a once in a year job – however to better stay on top of them, you will find you that if you re-evaluate them every time you have a splurge you will be able to better manage your debt.

“By looking at the options available to you, whether that is using your savings to pay off your debt or switching to a balance transfer credit card, taking the time to consider your finances now could help significantly reduce your outgoings and pay for the expensive months ahead.

“If you are really struggling with your post-holiday debt, speak to your bank and see if they can help, alternatively there are charities such as StepChange, who 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.


Rory Stoves
Phone: 020 3872 5613
Twitter: @UswitchPR

Notes to editors

Notes to editors Research carried out online with the Consumer Opinion Panel from 8 – 12 June 2018 amongst a sample of 2,009 UK adults.

  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 used it to fund their holiday amounted to £473. 20.3million people multiplied by £473 results in £9.7billion being put on credit cards.

  3. 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.

  4. 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 ‘Yes’.

  5. Average calculated by taking 10 high street bank credit card rates.

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