Two-thirds of families say ‘rip-offs’ made them bust their holiday budget.

  • Charges for paying on debit and credit cards cost families an average of £120 extra
  • Kids’ beach extras and fun park visits cost parents an average of £153 – 24 per cent of the holiday budget that families have set

As schools break up for the summer this week, new research from Post Office Travel Money1has revealed the resort rip offs that families dislike most on holidays abroad. Topping the list are unexpected charges incurred for paying on plastic, although the high cost of fun parks, water rides, ice creams and meals also threaten to rock the holiday boat.

Two-thirds (67 per cent) of parents who took part in the Post Office survey about overseas holiday costs complained of feeling ripped off on their last trip abroad. Their biggest gripe was the cost of paying on plastic – with a third of families admitting they were caught out by extra charges averaging £120 on their last holiday.


1.Charges for paying on plastic abroad

2.High cost of entry to attractions and excursions

3.Restaurant service charges

4.Meal and drink prices in restaurants and bars

5.Cost of transport in destination

6.Kids’ beach extras

Unforeseen debit card charges attracted the greatest criticism among the third of families who complained about the cost of paying on plastic. As well as non-transaction charges which can be around 2.7 per cent on top of each transaction, one-in-ten holiday makers also said they had also used ATMS regularly for cash withdrawals during their last holiday but did not realise that they would be charged a fee every time they did so.

  • Nick Boden, Head of Post Office Travel Money which accounts for one-in-four UK foreign exchange transactions, said: “This year’s consumer research revealed a big increase in the percentage of people who got caught out by charges for paying on plastic. Paying by debit or credit card may be convenient but holidaymakers are likely to incur fees and transaction charges without realising it until they see their bank statements. A safer route is to use prepaid card like the Post Office Travel Money Card, which can be loaded with cash and won’t incur extra charges in shops and restaurants.”

Aside from the charges levied for paying on plastic, a range of other resort costs were regarded as rip offs by the families surveyed. In particular, the high cost of excursions and entry to attractions was another big budget-buster for families. The cost of fun days out was a major gripe for three-in-ten of those surveyed. Yet, half (51 per cent) of parents forked out £50 on a visit to a fun park to keep children entertained on their last holiday.

  • Resort food and drink is another big drain on the family purse – rated a rip-off by one-in-five of those surveyed. The research found that families spent an average of over £336 on meals, drinks and shop-bought food on their last holiday – over half of the total spending budget of £630 they had set.
  • However, Post Office Travel Money said eating out could cost far more than that for families holidaying in one of the more expensive European resorts. A family could expect to pay around £900 for meals and drinks on a one week holiday in either Nice or Sorrento, according to the Post Office’s latest Family Holiday Report.
Holiday Cost: Average Spend:
Eating out £151.70
Drinks £95.74
Food/drink bought in a shop or supermarket £88.77
Sightseeing/excursions £80.68
Resort transport costs £50.91
Entry to water or theme park £50.57
Ice-creams £35.38
Water rides (pedalo, kayak, banana boat ride) £30.46
Kids beach items (buckets & spade, lilos etc) £20.57
Kids swimming goggles/mask & snorkel £16.28
  • Pester power emerges from the research as another budget-breaker for families. Even though the cost of kids’ extras rated as one of the biggest rip offs, the Post Office research suggests that most families are likely to overspend their holiday budget because they underestimate what kids’ extras actually cost but still give in to pester power and splash out on treats. Three-quarters (73 per cent) of families admitted spending an extra £159 on top of their planned budget.

Three-in-ten said they shelled out over £67 paying for buckets & spades, lilos, swimming gear and beach water rides. Even more – 86 per cent of parents – paid out over £35 during their holiday for ice creams. When these costs were added to spending on fun days out, the total outlay was over £153 – accounting for the majority of overspending by families.