Debit and credit card fees on travel money are sloping into the ridiculous, potentially costing Brits a mountainous £2.3 million as they head off for a little après ski!

According to the Office for National Statistics, Brits spent £7.6 billion abroad during the ski season earlier this year*, with some utilising debit cards to fund fun on the slopes during winter holidays. With some banks charging an exchange rate transaction fee of up to 2.99%** of spend, plus additional fees for just using a debit or credit card abroad, it can cost holidaymakers almost £5 per £100 spent – snowballing to a potential total of £2.3 million.

Canny consumers are wising up to these charges and, rather than carrying large sums of cash, have turned to alternative methods of payments whilst abroad. So much so that Escape Travel Money Prepaid Mastercard® currency card, has witnessed a surge in card loads compared to that of this time last year, with volumes up 164 per cent, as people prepare for their winter getaways.

Having fallen foul of such charges, a frugal couple from Manchester ditched the debit cards whilst on the slopes and now use an Escape Travel Card, saving them £65 on each trip.

Alex and Julia Smith are heading to Chatel this December, with son, Oskar. Julia commented: “Although we exchange some sterling for Euros before we travel we don’t want to carry too much cash on us for safety reasons. Because of this we started using our debit card to pay for our accommodation, lift passes, ski hire and for meals and bar bills.

“Although we were aware there are fees for using our debit cards abroad we had no idea how much it was, not until we received our bank statement. It was a shock to say the least! We spent €980 on accommodation and approximately €500 on our cards, including cash withdrawals, which had we exchanged this in the UK would have been approximately £1235 sterling. But this was far from the case using our debit card abroad.

“With the extremely poor exchange rates offered by our bank and the fees on top of this for using our cards abroad we were charged nearly £5 per £100 we spent. So what should have been £1235 turned out to be nearly £1300, costing us an additional £65 just for accessing our own money – that’s the cost of a meal out for the three of us!

“Having an Escape Travel Card has helped no end. It’s so much safer than carrying large amounts of cash and it works in exactly the same way as our debit card, and as a Mastercard it’s accepted everywhere.

“There’s no fee for topping up, and unlike our debit cards there’s no fee for using the card to pay for items, or for withdrawing cash. We also always end up with a little money left over at the end of our holidays and the beauty of the Escape Card is that because it’s loaded in sterling we don’t get charged for withdrawing the cash when we’re back home, or even using it for the weekly shop! It really is fantastic.”

Rob Darby of Escape Travel Card said: “The price of a ski break is costly enough, without having to worry about additional fees whilst enjoying the slopes. The Escape Travel Card allows you to load up on holiday money before you head abroad, can be topped up on the move, and can be used just like a debit or credit card – but without the hefty charges.

“You won’t pay a fee for using the Escape Travel Card overseas – if your bill is 50 Euros you will pay 50 Euros on your card. Unlike many other currency cards, Escape is loaded with GBP and conversion is done at the point of use, no matter where you are in the world. This provides a much more flexible solution as the card can be used in multiple destinations, on the same trip or future holidays, without the need to pay to re-convert currencies. The same is true when you return home and have a little cash left over, simply withdraw it from an ATM or spend it at a counter without fear of being stung with a re-conversion fee.”