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Holidaymakers hit by card fee hike

NatWest has announced that it is raising charges for debit card transactions made overseas by 66 per cent at the beginning of June this year.The new "exchange rate transaction fee" will now add 2.75 per cent onto all cash machine withdrawals made with debit cards for tourists who holiday abroad.Furthermore, the flat fee that NatWest charges for point-of-sale transactions in shops and restaurants will rise by two thirds from 75p to £1.25. The move has angered consumer watchdogs, who will be watching to see if other banks follow suit.A spokesman for the Independent Banking Advisory Service said: "It's completely obscene. It does not cost that amount to process these transactions." NatWest defended the fee hike, saying that it had not increased its overseas charges since 2001. A spokesman for the bank also said: "The vast majority of all overseas debit card transactions by NatWest customers are cash withdrawals of £100 or more. These will be cheaper under the new fee structure." Holidaymakers already pay out an estimated £535 million a year to the major banks in the form of concealed charges.

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