Going abroad this summer? Taking a weekend break in London? If so, be aware of costly bank charges when you use you cash or debit card

Belt-tightening is second nature to everyone in these straitened times, so this summer don’t get caught out by the hidden banking charges. They can easily mount up when you go abroad.

If you are going on holiday to Spain, France or any other country in the eurozone you will incur exactly the same charges that you do at home when you use your ATM card or purchase an item on your debit card. The only way account holder who won't are those that qualify for free-banking.

The charges easily mount up if you are with AIB or bank of Ireland. 

AIB charges €0.20 per transaction while Bank of Ireland charges €0.28 for eurozone withdrawals.

National Irish Bank, Permanent TSB and Ulster Bank don't charge for ATM withdrawals at home or in the eurozone.

Cash withdrawal could cost €40 in non-eurozone

The real dangerzone, says the National Consumer Agency, is countries outside the eurozone and that includes the UK. So read on if you are going on a weekend trip to Belfast, Edinburgh or London.

AIB charges in non-eurozonecountries

AIB, for example, charges a currency transaction fee of up to 3% plus a commission of 1% (a minimum of €1.27, maximum of €6.35) on non-euro cash withdrawals.

So if you are taking out the equivalent of €100 from the cash point you will be hit with a charge of €4 each time.

“If you do this ten times over your holiday you’ll easily be hit with a bill of €30 to €40,” says Aine Carroll, who is responsible for public awareness and financial education at the National Consumer Agency. 

AIB has separate charges for debit card purchases but at 1.75% of the transaction, they are significantly lower than the charges for cash machine withdrawals.

So if you are an AIB customer you will incur lower charges if you use your debit card for purchases rather than carrying cash around all the time. But be aware of the minimum and maximum charges.

The minimum charge on an ATM transaction is €1.27 – almost three times the minimum charge for debit card purchases which is €0.46.

But on debit card purchases the opposite applies – the maximum charge is far higher at €11.43 compared to €6.35 maximum charged for a cash transaction.

Bank of Ireland charges

At 1.75%, Bank of Ireland’s percentage charge for non-euro debt card purchases is the same as AIB with a minimum charge of €0.46.

But again the devil is in the small print. It can charge a maximum of €11.43 for both non-euro cash withdrawal and debit card purchases.

Its non-euro cash withdrawal charge is also higher than AIB's at 3.5% - that's €3.50 for every €100 withdrawn.

Ulster Bank, PTSB charges

UIster Bank, like Bank of Ireland charges 3.5% for non-eurozone cash withdrawals as does Permanent TSB

It charges a 2% of the transaction value for a cash withdrawal plus a foreign exchange fee of 1.5%. 

So the cost of withdrawing the equivalent of €100 is €3.50.

Go the cash machine ten times to withdraw €100 a go over your two week holiday and you would be hit with a bill of €35 when you got home.

But if you took out more than €600 at a time, you would slightly save as the maximum fee would kick in at this point.

However as the National Consumer Agency points out this doesn’t suit many people.

“Most people don’t want to be carrying around this amount of cash. If you go away with kids and you’re buying things here and there, fees easily mount up.”

National Irish Bank and PTSB charge similar fees as can be seen in the table beneath.

Transaction  BoI AIB  NIB PTSB Ulster
ATM withdrawal at home €0.28 €0.20 Nil Nil Nil
Debit purchase €0.28 €0.20 Nil Nil Nil
Non-euro cash withdrawal

3.5% (min €3.17, max €11.43

3% (depending on currency) plus commission of 1% (min €1.27, max €6.35)

3.5% (min €3.17, max €11.43)

3.5% (min €3.17, max €11.43)

2% (min €3, max €12), plus foreign exchange fee of 1.5%1

Non-euro debit card purchase

1.75% (min €0.46, max €11.43

1.75% (min €0.46, max €11.43)

1.75% (min €0.46, max €11.43)

1.75% (min €0.46, max €11.43)

1% (min €0.25, max €6.00) plus 1% transaction fee (min €0.25, max €6.00)

Continually updated charges can be found on the National Consumer Agency website

Credit cards: don’t use them to withdraw cash

The National Consumer Agency also warns against using credit cards to withdraw cash as this will incur a daily interest rate which is often higher than the normal interest rate. It is the most expensive way to get cash at home or abroad.

MBNA, for example, has an annual interest rate of 16.9% but charges 18.1% for cash advance fees.

And the charges will keep continue to be incurred on that portion of your balance until the overall balance is cleared.

The NCA also advises consumers that lodging cash into a credit card account ahead of a holiday is no guarantee that charges won’t be incurred.

“Some credit cards still charge you to withdraw your own money,” says Carroll.

If your credit card is stolen then the credit company may not re-imburse the cash your lodged either.

“It’s really important to check the small print before you go away. There are people who have never ever been robbed and then they drop their guard on holiday and get robbed and don’t know they can’t claim until they get back,” says Carroll.