Make sure your credit card is plastic fantastic overseas, experts warn

20 May 2008 / by Rachael Stiles
Travellers should carefully consider the features and drawbacks of their credit cards before taking them abroad, APACS and ABTA have warned.

With the holiday season fast approaching, APACS, the UK payments association, and ABTA, the travel association, have issued advice for Brits who intend to take their plastic on holiday with them this year, to get the most out of their trip and avoid becoming victims of identity fraud.

Last year, Britons used plastic cards more than 300million times overseas, accounting for three per cent of all debit and credit cards issued in the UK and 50 per cent of all overseas spending transactions.

Plastic was used for £25.2billion of transactions abroad last year, either for purchasing or withdrawing money from cash machines.

When finding the best credit card, APACS' new 'Choosing and Using' guide recommends one that best suits the individual's spending habits. If they expect to pay the balance off straight away, for example each month or at the end of a holiday, then the interest rate does not hold the same importance as it would if the balance was to remain on the card for some time.

When travelling abroad, APACS urges customers to review any fees and charges which they could incur for using the card overseas, such as charges for transactions and the currency fees that it could entail.

Sandra Quinn, director of communications at APACS, said: "As a nation we are all using our cards more frequently abroad so it pays to be aware of any extra costs that may be incurred for using them overseas, as well as taking steps to protect them from fraud. Card thieves are hoping to catch us relaxed and off-guard when we are overseas, so we need to take the same sensible precautions with our cards abroad as we would in the UK."

Meanwhile, Abbey has warned football fans travelling to Moscow to see Chelsea and Manchester United battle it out in the Champions League Final, that the best deals on credit cards may not be a football credit card that supports their team.

"A credit card that affiliates with a football club may be ‘nice to have' but is not likely to benefit you as much financially than other cards available at the moment" said Roger Lovering, Managing Director of Abbey Credit Cards.

Michelle Slade, analyst at, comments: "With travellers cheques becoming rather old fashioned now, more people are resorting to using their credit or debit card when they go abroad. But these people need to make sure they are aware of the additional charges they will face for using their cards in a foreign country."

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