Beware the sting in the tail for non-sterling online purchases this Christmas

With Christmas a mere five weeks away spending on the high street and the internet is starting to ramp up, but watch out for extra card charges if you make any online purchases in a foreign currency.
Norwich and Peterborough Building Society issued this warning today after its research shows that consumers paid an estimated £20.7 million fees for items bought online last year.
People in the UK are increasingly savvy when it comes to the additional charges levied by most debit and credit cards when they spend or draw cash when holidaying overseas.
However, many don’t realise that the same charges apply to online purchases in a foreign currency even though you may be sitting in your own home in this country when you click the ‘buy now’ button.
The figures from Norwich & Peterborough Building Society show that 60 per cent of people don’t realise they will incur additional charges for non-sterling purchases.
The card fees are not insignificant with a 2.99% foreign currency charge commonplace, plus some banks with charge you £1 to £1.25 per debit card transaction on top, so that £200 gift may end up costing you an extra £7.23 and that’s before postage costs, so buying from overseas may not be the cheapest option once you’ve factored in all the costs.
As with holidaying abroad, there are certain cards that will allow you make these purchases without being charged so it’s worth considering keeping one in your wallet for these specific occasions.
Prepaid currency cards are becoming increasingly popular but there are many to choose from.  Some of the most competitive tariffs come from the likes of Access Prepaid, Revolut and Centtrip.
For debit cards offering the cheapest non-sterling spending, Norwich and Peterborough Building Society is the most competitive, with Metro Bank also worth a look, however in both cases you’ll need to maintain your current account with these providers to qualify for the debit card.
There are also credit cards that are free to use in these circumstances including the popular all round ‘Everyday Plus’ card from MBNA or the Clarity Card from Halifax. Other credit cards with no charges on currency purchases include Post Office, Nationwide Building Society Select and Saga.
There’s still time to apply for these cards, so if you’ve got some major Christmas purchases to make from non UK retailers or are planning your post winter holiday it’s worth kitting yourself out with a specialist card to prevent you paying unnecessary costs.

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