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Overseas fees too high and too complicated

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Research by Which? has revealed some banks are charging exorbitant fees for overseas transactions with details of fees often hidden away on providers’ websites or undisclosed on statements.

Which? tested the country’s seven biggest banks and building societies to see which offered its customers the best deal for transactions abroad.

Which? researchers went to Calais in December 2011 and compared the amount charged by each bank for the same €5.95 debit card purchase and a €20 ATM withdrawal. The results showed a huge difference in charges between the best and worst banks.

Norwich and Peterborough’s (N&P) Gold Light current account came out on top. Account holders aren’t charged any fees for overseas use. In comparison, Halifax charged 33% more than N&P for the supermarket purchase. Even when compared to its high street rivals, Halifax’s fees for overseas purchases were much higher – charging 29% more than both HSBC and Barclays. Lloyds TSB charged 15% more than N&P for the ATM withdrawal.

Additional fees can make card purchases incredibly expensive. For example 10 transactions of £50 made with a Halifax debit card would cost the cardholder £28.75. The same 10 transactions made with N&P would be free.

Which? is calling for all banks to be clearer about the fees they charge so that consumers can easily compare whether they are getting a good deal.

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