Summer holiday beach with beach ball flip flops and sunglasses

Travelling abroad this summer? Stick to the budget and don't get burned by bank fees

Summer holiday season is well and truly upon us.

Research published this morning by Switcher.ie shows that seven in ten Irish consumers will be heading on holiday this year, with vast majority off to enjoy beach holidays in other EU countries, while a third will head further afield, to places like the USA, Canada and Australia.

Take a look at our top tips to avoid post-holiday headaches….

Budget to avoid getting burned

If you’re one of the lucky ones heading abroad for some sunshine, your budget is probably the last thing on your mind. In fact, the research found that only four in ten people will set a budget and stick to it while they’re away.

But there’s good reason to do so, especially if you don’t want to end up overspending or coming home in debt. Many consumers will spend up to €1,000 on the likes of food and drink while they’re away, with other expenses like shopping, tours and activities, and transport, likely to quickly add up, too.

Switcher.ie’s Managing Director, Eoin Clarke, advises:

“Your break in the sun could end up costing more than you bargained for, if you don’t budget or plan how best to manage your money while away. Take some time before you go to plan out a daily budget for when you’re away - including expenses like food and drink, tours and other activities.”

Think about charges for using the ATM or paying by card

Another thing to consider is your use of bank cards overseas. If you’re one of the many people who now rarely uses cash and instead pays with card at all times, you could end up facing some nasty bank charges for your holiday card usage.

Most people don’t know or aren’t sure of the charges for the likes of ATM withdrawals, using a credit card to withdraw cash, and paying by debit card in shops or restaurants abroad. And, while you typically won’t face additional charges for using your cards in the Eurozone, if you’re travelling further afield there could be some steep charges involved.

As Eoin Clarke notes:

“If you’re travelling outside the Eurozone, it’s important to find out about charges for using ATMs and using your debit and credit cards in shops or restaurants. These charges can quickly add up, so we would urge holidaymakers to ‘know before you go’, especially if you’re travelling outside the Eurozone, where these bank fees will be even steeper.”

To help you on your way, here’s some information on the cost for ATM withdrawals in non-Eurozone countries…

Bank Withdrawal charge Other charges  
AIB 2.5% of euro value Commission charge of 1% (min. €2, max €6)  
Bank of Ireland 3.5% of transaction (min €3.17, max €11.43) None  
KBC 3.5% of transaction (min €3.17, max €11.43) None  
permanent tsb 3.5% of transaction (min €3.17, max €11.43) None  
Ulster Bank 2% of transaction (min €3, max €12) Exchange rate charge of 1.5%  

On top of ATM charges, making purchases in a non-Eurozone country will also result in additional charges, as follows:

  • AIB will charge 1.75% of the transaction value, with a minimum charge of €0.45 and a maximum of €11.
  • Bank of Ireland charges 2% of the transaction value to a maximum of €11.43 per transaction.
  • KBC customers will be charged 1.75% of the transaction value, with a minimum charge of €0.46 and a maximum of €11.43.
  • permanent tsb charge 1.75% of the transaction value, with a minimum charge of €0.46 and a maximum of €11.43.
  • Ulster Bank customers will pay 1% of the transaction value, with a minimum charge of €0.25 and a maximum of €6, as well as an exchange rate fee of 1% of transaction amount, also with a minimum charge of €0.25 and a maximum of €6.

However, it’s worth remembering that some banks - such as Bank of Ireland and Ulster Bank - will waive fees if you use one of their ATMs in Northern Ireland or the UK.

In terms of credit cards, if you use your card outside the Eurozone, you will be charged a currency conversion fee, and - as usual - a cash advance fee if the credit card is used to withdraw cash. You’ll also be charged interest on any purchases and withdrawals on your credit card unless you clear the balance every month.

If you want to find out more about these charges, take a look at your bank’s website or give their customer care line a call and they’ll be able to help.

It’s a good idea to let your bank know if you’re going on holidays

Another important thing to think about - most banks advise customers to let them know if they plan on going abroad and will be using their cards. While this may seem like a bit of hassle, it’s well worth doing.

The reason banks look for this is so that they can detect any fraud on your account - if you don’t let them know, they may cut off access to your account as a preventative measure, which no-one wants on their holidays!