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Overseas charges make UK tourists see red

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08/08/2008

Hidden charges for using credit and debit cards or mobile phones abroad top the list of holiday grumbles, according to Post Office Travel Services.

As the UK credit crunch continues to bite, the Post Office research revealed that six out of 10 top holiday irritations relate to perceived rip-offs.

These include the cost of exchanging money abroad, the pressure to leave tips even when service is poor, and the feeling that tourists get charged special high rates.

To add insult to injury, the Post Office also found that hard-pressed families will have to dig much deeper in their pockets this summer just to stand still and fund the same basic holiday necessities as they did a year ago.

The foreign currency provider looked at average spends on currencies for European destinations and found that holidaymakers would need to spend nearly £43 more to get the same amount of currency as they did in 2007 – £273 instead of £230.

Similarly, they would need to pay £32 more to maintain the average 2007 currency purchase of £170 for Croatian kuna and £18 more to get the same number of Turkish lira (£217).

But there are ways to beat the holiday credit crunch, according to the Post Office. It says that families can claw back most, if not all, of the additional cash needed to pay for holiday essentials by avoiding spending on the very things that topped its holiday irritations survey.

Helen Warburton, Post Office head of travel, said: “Our research showed that UK tourists are particularly irritated by the high charges for using mobile phones abroad and for using credit and debit cards to get cash abroad or make purchases.

“Keep the phone for emergencies, turn the answer machine facility off to avoid expensive incoming calls and get holiday cash in advance, without paying commission or incurring high ATM charges.

“If you do want to use a credit card, make sure that it is one that offers 0% commission, as most cards charge a minimum of 2.75% for every transaction.”

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