Holidays: Never make this huge mistake at a Christmas market – you'll waste a lot of money

A Christmas market is often on the list of holiday activities when heading to Europe at this time of year. The markets are the ideal way to get into the festive spirit and provide plenty of opportunity for Christmas shopping. However, Britons are being warned to not make this huge mistake if heading to a Christmas market this winter. This is the latest travel advice.

The average ‘non-sterling’ fee for using a debit card to take cash out at an ATM is 2.82 percent, and an average ‘cash’ fee of £1.68 per withdrawal.

Equals advised Britons to understand how much they’ll be charged for ATM use by their provider so they don’t get any nasty surprises while abroad.

The research also revealed, over the course of 2019, British travellers have paid out an estimated £315.3 million in overseas cash-point fees – £285 million for withdrawing cash overseas using a debit card and £30 million in fees for withdrawing cash overseas on a credit card.

Holidaymakers are urged to pay in the local currency to avoid being caught out.


The investigation also found that holidaymakers spending money in local shops and restaurants could also be stung with charges.

Equals estimates that a potential £881 million is lost by consumers opting to pay in pounds instead of local currencies when abroad every year.

While paying in pounds might seem the easier option for keeping track of spending, in doing so the merchant is able to define the exchange rate used to convert the transaction from the local currency back into sterling. This profit-generating scheme is known as Dynamic Currency Conversion (DCC).

To avoid DCC completely, opt for a prepaid Mastercard currency card. As of 12th April 2019, Mastercard changed their rules for prepaid cards which now means payment terminals abroad are not allowed to offer customers the option to pay in sterling, to protect customers from DCC.

Ian Strafford-Taylor, CEO of Equals, said: “Christmas markets are becoming increasingly popular, attracting millions of shoppers with festive fayre each year.

“But as many vendors prefer customers to pay in cash, city-breakers need to plan ahead to avoid being stung by overseas ATM charges for withdrawing currency.

“Anyone planning to a trip to the European winter markets needs to do their research first to avoid missing out.

“Monitoring exchange rates, arranging local currency before heading to the airport or using a prepaid foreign currency card will all help ensure that the festive fun doesn’t leave them short-changed on value.”

There are various ways travellers can make sure they’re getting the best they can from the exchange rate.

Equals advised planning ahead. With fluctuating exchange rates as the UK heads towards a general election, rates could go down as well as up. Buy when you’re happy with the rate on offer.

It’s also key not to leave it too late. Waiting until the last minute means you’ll have no choice about what rate you get.

And if you leave it right up until you get to the airport, you’re likely to face the worst exchange rates in the country.