Careful with currency if your Maestro card has become VISA Debit
A word to the wise if your bank has switched your Maestro card for a VISA Debit card in the past couple of months; watch out for unexpected fees when buying currency. It's a change that's bound to affect thousands of consumers about to head away for their summer holidays.
Natwest customers recently saw their Maestro debit cards phased out and replaced with VISA Debit cards, but unless you picked through their regular mailshots of changes to terms and conditions of your account, you'll have missed the fact that VISA Debit treats currency purchases very differently to the previous debit-style transaction:
"When you purchase currency from a travel agent or bureau de change it is treated, under the Visa Scheme, as a cash purchase. To process this transaction we pay a fee to the merchant (be that a travel agent or bureau de change), therefore we have made a decision to make a charge for this type of transaction."
While Maestro never carried a charge for buying currency, cash purchases of currency using VISA Debit attract a 2% transaction charge, from a minimum of £2, up to a maximum of £5. Wheras a couple of months ago, you might have thought nothing of sticking your Maestro card in the chip and pin machine at the bureau de change, now you'll be better off withdrawing the money from a cash machine before you reach it.