As families get ready to pack up their bucket and spade for the peak holiday season, The UK Cards Association has pulled together guidance on using debit and credit cards abroad to help them get the best value for money when spending abroad.

Latest figures* show that there were 145 million debit and credit cards in issue in the UK. Almost 47 million people now hold a debit card – that’s 91% of the UK adult population. In addition there are just over 30 million credit card holders.

In total, £25 billion was spent outside of the UK on debit and credit cards last year. Debit cards made up the majority, with UK consumers spending £15 billion on them in 2012.

Debit and credit cards are one of the most convenient and flexible ways to pay, offering among the lowest prices for buying goods abroad, compared to exchanging money before leaving the UK. Cards also provide additional legal protection to consumers on purchases, which cash cannot offer.

Research** conducted in July 2013 across the members of The UK Cards Association shows that the typical transaction rate for purchases on debit cards is 2.75% and credit cards is 2.99%. Using cards abroad can often be better value than pre-ordering currency online.

For example, if you spend €300 on hiring a car abroad and compare the overall cost of using your cards with the cost of pre-ordering currency online with major bureaux de changes: