05 Jun

Advice guide issued to keep consumers well-informed when using their cards overseas

  • UK cards used more than 10 times every second in overseas transactions last year
  • The UK Cards Association and ABTA issue the Using your card overseas guide: timely advice for UK consumers travelling abroad
  • The UK Cards Association and ABTA, the travel association, have today (5 June 2009) published a consumer advice guide – Using your card overseas – that provides tips and useful information for holidaymakers and business travellers who will be using their cards abroad.

    Statistics from The UK Cards Association show that there were 317 million overseas transactions on UK-issued cards last year, amounting to just over three per cent of all transactions on our cards. Last year Britons used their plastic for £27.8 billion worth of overseas transactions - £19.9 billion on credit and debit card purchases and £7.9 billion on cash taken out of cash machines. This was up just over ten per cent on the total from 2007.

    The advice guide can be downloaded at www.theukcardsassociation.org.uk. It provides useful information regarding the types of charges you may incur when withdrawing cash at a cash machine or when making a purchase overseas using your card, and includes tips on what to do before, during and after your trip abroad to minimise the chances of being a victim of fraud.

    Sandra Quinn, director of communications, says: “Using your debit or credit card is a convenient and safe way to pay when you’re overseas. However, everyone should be aware that there may be fees or costs connected with using your card in a foreign cash machine or shop. Additionally, card criminals often look to catch us with our defences down when we are on holiday, so we need to take some simple, sensible precautions to help minimise the chances of becoming a victim of fraud.

    “The Using your card overseas guide provides useful advice when it comes to using your card abroad, and can help ensure that you’re not caught out by any surprising charges and that your trip overseas is free from fraud.”

    If you are travelling overseas this year, either on holiday or on a business trip, the following advice can help ensure that using your cards is a hassle-free experience:

    • Make sure your card company has up-to-date contact details for you - including a mobile telephone number.
    • Make sure you have the 24-hour contact telephone numbers for each of your cards - in case you need to speak to your card company.
    • Some issuers have reduced customers’ credit card limits recently - make sure the credit limit on your card is sufficient for the spending you intend to make.
    • Safeguard your PIN at all times. Don’t give it to anyone - even if they claim to be from the police or your bank.
    • Shield your PIN with your free hand when typing it into a keypad in a shop or at a cash machine.
    • Consider taking more than one card with you as well as some local currency in case you need another payment method to fall back on.

    Casia Zajac, ABTA head of communications says: “There are a range of payment options available for UK consumers going abroad, and paying with plastic continues to be an increasingly popular choice. The advice in this guide provides holidaymakers and business travellers with useful information that can help ensure a safe and stress-free time overseas.” 

  1. The UK Cards Association is the leading trade association for the cards industry in the UK. With a membership that includes all major credit, debit and charge card issuers, and card acquiring banks, the role of the Association is both to unify and represent the UK card payments industry. It is responsible for formulating and implementing policy on non-competitive aspects of card payments including codes of practice, card fraud prevention, major infrastructural changes, development of standards and other matters where cross-industry benefits are identified. The UK Cards Association was formed in April 2009 as the successor body to the APACS Card Payments Group.
  2. ABTA was founded in 1950 and currently has 1,415 members with 5,900 outlets. Members include travel agents, tour operators and support services right across the spectrum from small family-owned businesses to the large tour operators.  ABTA is the largest travel association in the UK and its members provide 90% of the foreign package holidays in the UK as well as selling millions of independent travel arrangements. 
  3. Card statistics on UK-issued cards:

    - Just over three per cent of all transactions on UK-issued cards occurred abroad last year (51% on credit/charge cards; 48% on debit cards; and 1% on ATM-only cards)
    - In 2008, we used our cards 317 million times overseas in transactions totalling £27.8 billion - £19.9 billion on purchases and £7.9 billion on cash taken out of overseas cash machines. (In 2007, we used our cards 309 million times overseas in transactions totalling £25.2 billion.
    - The value of these overseas transactions for 2008 breaks down into: £15.1 billion on credit/charge cards; £12.4 billion on debit cards; and £0.3 billion on ATM-only cards
    Fraud abroad on UK-issued cards totalled £230.1 million in 2008 – an increase of 11% from 2007, when it totalled £207.6 million.
  4. Change is afoot. APACS has been the umbrella name for the co-operative activity of banks, building societies and card issuers on payments and payment systems since the mid-80s, but over the next two months we will be moving away from the use of the name APACS in favour of names that better describe the various parts of the payments industry, such as the Payments Council, The UK Cards Association and the different clearing companies.  Please rest assured that the press team, what we do and the issues we can talk about will remain the same as will our phone numbers.   We will, of course, keep you updated of all the changes in the coming weeks.