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New advice guide launched to help customers using cards abroad this summer

Cards enabled customers to spend £25.5 billion abroad in 2009

Card spending abroad increased by 180% over past decade – up from £9.1 billion in 1999

To coincide with the approach of the holiday season, The UK Cards Association and ABTA, the travel association, have today (28 May 2010) published a consumer advice guide – Using your card overseas – that provides the latest tips and useful information for holidaymakers and business travellers who are planning to use their cards abroad this summer.

Latest statistics from The UK Cards Association show that overseas transactions on UK-issued cards amounted to just under three per cent of all card transactions last year, with 303 million separate purchases and cash withdrawals. Britons abroad spent £17.7 billion on credit and debit card purchases and withdrew £7.8 billion out of cash machines. This was an eight per cent decrease on the 2008 total of £27.8 billion.

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

Melanie Johnson, Chair of The UK Cards Association, comments:

“Thanks to their flexibility and convenience cards have become our preferred travel companion. Although card spending abroad was down slightly last year - no doubt due to the economic downturn – their use has grown almost threefold over the past decade.

“If you are planning to go abroad with a card this summer it pays to do some quick checks. The ‘Using your card overseas’ guide will help ensure that everyone knows how to use their cards safely and is fully aware of any costs involved.”

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

  • Only take cards with you that you intend to use; leave others in a secure place at home.
  • Make sure you have your card company’s 24-hour contact telephone number.
  • Make sure your card company has up-to-date contact details for you, including a mobile telephone number.
  • If your cards are registered with a card protection agency, ensure you have their contact telephone number and your policy number with you.
  • Don’t let your card out of your sight, especially when using it in restaurants and bars.
  • Don’t give your PIN to anyone – even if they claim to be from the police or your card company.
  • Shield your PIN with your free hand when typing it into a keypad in a shop or at a cash machine.

John DeVial, ABTA Head of Communications says:

“Paying with plastic continues to be a popular choice for holidaymakers and business travellers going abroad. The advice in this guide provides UK consumers with useful information that can help ensure a safe and stress-free time overseas.”


For further information contact The UK Cards Association press office on

020 3 217 8251.

Notes to editors:

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.

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 under three per cent of all transactions on UK-issued cards occurred abroad last year (52% on debit cards; 47% on credit/charge cards; and 1% on ATM-only cards).
In 2009, we used our cards 303 million times overseas in transactions totalling £25.5 billion - £17.7 billion on purchases and £7.8 billion on cash taken out of overseas cash machines. (In 2008, we used our cards 317 million times overseas in transactions totalling £27.8 billion.)
The value of these overseas transactions for 2009 breaks down into: £12.8 billion on credit/charge cards; £12.5 billion on debit cards; and £0.25 billion on ATM-only cards.
Fraud abroad on UK-issued cards totalled £122.7 million in 2009 – a decrease of 47% from 2008, when it totalled £230.1 million.

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