Average Brit set to lose £17,000 in hidden foreign currency fees


Wise, complaints service Resolver and fellow fintech Plum have launched Fight Overseas Fees, to expose the true cost of spending abroad, empowering customers to fight for change.

Independent research by YouGov and Consumer Intelligence reveals the average Brit stands to lose £16,796 to bad exchange rates when spending money abroad over their lifetime.

Over 8000 people across the UK were questioned on key spending moments abroad in their lives and their foreign currently habits. The results show most people still use their bank or a bureau de change to change their money, getting hit by bad exchange rates as a result.

While the odd charge might seem small on a one off basis, being caught out every time you go abroad means they really add up in the long-term.

On family holidays alone, over a lifetime most Brits will lose £845 to unnecessary fees.

DemographicAverage trip / activity spendTotal lifetime spendLifetime loss to hidden fees
Retiring abroad£107,400 (average amount sent abroad ahead of moving overseas)£113,283£1495
Holiday home owners£766.28 (average spend while away)£38,188£1035
Family holiday£1500 (average spend for one trip)£29,058£845
City break£450 (average spend for one trip)£20,531£610
Wedding overseas£5500 (average total spend)£5962£162

As banks and travel money providers continue to make it difficult for consumers to understand the true cost of spending overseas, more than ever transparency in financial services is needed.

The problem

Traditionally, foreign currency is either advertised as ‘free’ or with just a small upfront fee - eg. ‘buy your holiday money for £2.99’.

Banks, the bureau the change and other brokers will then make most of their profit by adding the bulk of their fee to a poor exchange rate - a hidden fee. If you’re sending money abroad with your bank, there may also be hidden receiving fees that aren’t advertised.

Independent research from HMT’s Behavioural Intelligence Unit shows that consumers are unable to figure out the true costs of the transaction when it’s priced in this way.

This costs British consumers an average of £16,800 over their lifetime that they have no idea they’re spending. That’s not fair.

The solution

Fight Overseas Fees has created a calculator which hooks into your online banking and works out your losses on foreign currency over the past 12 months. For the first time, consumers can easily take matters into their own hands and transparently check if they’ve been overcharged.

We are empowering consumers to complain about their bank or holiday money provider via the complaints service Resolver, to put an end to this practise of untransparent pricing, hidden beneath claims of ‘fee free foreign currency’.

Give it a go yourself, head to fightoverseasfees.org and help fight the fees.


Please see terms of use and product availability for your region or visit Wise fees and pricing for the most up to date pricing and fee information.

This publication is provided for general information purposes and does not constitute legal, tax or other professional advice from Wise Payments Limited or its subsidiaries and its affiliates, and it is not intended as a substitute for obtaining advice from a financial advisor or any other professional.

We make no representations, warranties or guarantees, whether expressed or implied, that the content in the publication is accurate, complete or up to date.

Money without borders

Find out more

Wise Privacy Policy Update

We are here to protect your privacy and are always striving to ensure we remain transparent on how we handle your personal data. We have simplified the layout...

22.02.23 1 minute read

Tips, news and updates for your location