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Don't use our travel money cards in cashpoints, warns Post Office after customer loses 100 in fees in a week

  • Travel money cards can be loaded with euros or dollars before you fly
  • They are often advertised as an easy and safe way to spend on holiday
  • But some have fees that make them more expensive than ordinary bank cards

Heading to the sun?Don't use your Post Office card at foreign cashpoints

Heading to the sun?Don't use your Post Office card at foreign cashpoints

The Post Office is telling holidaymakers to avoid using its travel money cards at ATMs abroad after a customer lost 100 in fees in a week.

Travel money cards, which you can load with euros or dollars before you fly, are often advertised as an easy and safe way to spend on holiday.

However, last month Money Mail revealed how some cards are riddled with fees and catches that make them more expensive than some ordinary bank cards.

For example, while most travel cards are fee-free in shops and restaurants, some charge you to withdraw money from cash machines.

Post Office, one of the most popular providers, charges $2.50 ( 1.91) or 2 ( 1.79) for each withdrawal from its Travel Money card.

If a family visited an ATM twice a day on a two-week holiday, it would cost them $70 ( 54) or 56 ( 50).

Customers also risk huge fees if they press the wrong button on the ATM and elect to be charged in British sterling, rather than in the local currency.

Following complaints about these fees, Post Office has told Money Mail that customers should 'if possible, avoid using ATMs abroad'.

In the next few weeks it will begin issuing new leaflets explaining how to avoid the extra charges. These will be handed to every new card customer, it says.

Trevor Grundy, 77, put 900 on a Post Office travel money card so that he could withdraw money when he needed it from ATMs while on holiday in Chalkidiki, Greece.

He says the leaflet implied you 'put the card in, punch in your PIN and take the money away with you safe, secure, no problems'.

Yet after using the card regularly during his stay in Kriopigi, the author, from Whitstable, Kent, was unable to get the final 100 ( 89) out of the machine.

The ATM said there was nothing left on his Post Office card, so he took a taxi to a nearby town, tried again and got the same result. The same happened in another town.

While most travel cards are fee-free in shops and restaurants, some charge you to withdraw money from cash machines

While most travel cards are fee-free in shops and restaurants, some charge you to withdraw money from cash machines

When he contacted Post Office it said his 100 had been eaten up in charges.

Not only had he been billed 2 every time he used the cash machine 10 over his five withdrawals by Post Office, he had also lost around 90 to the Greek bank operating the ATM.

Without realising, he had been pressing the option to be billed in pounds, rather than euros, via so-called 'dynamic' currency conversion.

When paying on a card abroad or withdrawing cash, you're often asked if you want the transaction to be in pounds.

If you select pounds, it means the currency conversion is done by the foreign bank instead of your home bank and the rate is likely to be terrible.

Trevor claims Post Office did not make these fees clear at any stage.

'There was no advice or any kind of warning about the options while withdrawing money overseas from either Whitstable Post Office or in the information pack sent to me by the Post Office Travel Money Card people,' he says.

'Fortunately, I had enough cash to pay the final bills before returning to the UK.'

After complaining, Trevor received a letter from customer service staff saying: 'We appreciate this may have been confusing for you.

'I have raised your issues with head office and they have taken steps to make customers aware of options to choose at ATMs in the future.' The Post Office has offered him a 20 payment in compensation.

Trevor says: 'I have never used a travel card before and I will not be using one again. Next time, I will use cash or travellers' cheques.'

A Post Office spokeswoman says: 'To try and make it even easier for customers, we will be introducing leaflets that will come with every card purchased, both in branch and online, to provide customers with a further explanation of how to avoid these fees.

'Our best advice to avoid ATM charges is for customers to take a mixture of cash and plastic on their travels.'

Other charges on the Post Office card includes a 5 fee to close the account.

If you don't, you will start paying a 2-a-month maintenance charge one year after it expires.

l.eccles@celebrityrave.com

ABOUT THE AUTHOR celebrityrave

Journalist, writer and broadcaster, based in London and Paris, her latest book is Touché: A French Woman's Take on the English. Read more articles from Agnes.

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