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Bank Holiday Breaks Blow the Budget for British Holiday-Makers


- A quarter of Britons (25%) leave budgeting at the boarding gate
- Nearly three quarters of British holiday-makers (71%) return from holiday to a financial headache
- MasterCard prepaid cards offer greater budgeting and security options for last minute getaways

London - More than half of Brits surveyed admit that last minute foreign getaways over the Bank Holiday weekend can end up costing them as much as their annual week in the sun, according to the MasterCard Prepaid Holiday Barometer published today. The new research also shows that two thirds of British holiday-makers (64%) feel that mini-breaks leave them paying out more than they expect.

Leaving budgets at the boarding gate

As two million Brits take to the sky this weekend, the MasterCard Prepaid Holiday Barometer surveyed over 2,000 adults on their holiday spending habits, with the findings showing that the majority leave their budgets at the boarding gate. Only one in four adults (24%) set a budget and always manage to stick to it when they go away, with another quarter (25%) admitting to never even setting a budget. 45% either only sometimes or rarely manage to stick to their holiday budgets.

Matt Lanford, Head of Prepaid, MasterCard Europe, comments: “The MasterCard Prepaid Holiday Barometer has revealed that as a nation, we are prone to over-spending and racking up costs we haven’t accounted for when we go away. We save up for holidays, seek out a great deal and then step on the plane and forget all about our planned budgets.”

MasterCard’s research also showed that women are better with their budgets than men, with nearly one in four (39%) trying hard not to over-spend during a break. The majority of British holiday-makers are, however, being left out of pocket by underestimating the real cost of common holiday essentials, including excursions (30%), food (24%), drinks (23%), gifts and souvenirs (15%), while one in five (20%) are caught out by the cost of getting ill overseas.

Prepaid cards from MasterCard offer holiday-makers a simple way of managing their money more effectively, as they can be pre-loaded with a set budget before jetting off. Easy to buy and easy to load with funds, even for last minute trips, they are an effective way to control holiday spending for everything from a long weekend to a long haul adventure.

TV travel presenter, Amanda Lamb, adds: “We all know it’s easy to get carried away on holiday, especially when we may not be familiar with exchange rates and calculating the real cost of holiday spend. It’s also very easy to forget about simple ways to stay safe on holiday to ensure you’re not running the risk of being careless when it comes to your belongings. As a frequent traveller, I think MasterCard’s prepaid travel cards are a fantastic way to stay in control of my money – I’ve got one in my wallet to top up whenever I jet off to use alongside some local currency and my credit card in case of emergencies.”

71% of British holiday-makers return not only with a tan, but a financial headache as a result of over-spending on holiday, including a reduced bank balance (35%) or a hefty overdraft (10%). Furthermore, in spite of taking time out to relax, over a quarter (28%) worry about money while they are on holiday. Nearly 40% admit that – no matter how much they try to budget for holidays – they always end up spending more than they expect.

Sun, sea, sand – but no security

According to MasterCard’s research, being safe in the sun is not only about sunscreen, as security is another area where holiday-makers are falling staggeringly short. Over a third (35%) admit to leaving their belongings lying around in a hotel room, while one in five (19%) have left their valuables unattended on the beach and gone swimming. For British holiday-makers trying to keep money safe, this has led to stashing their cash in unusual places. One in ten female holiday-makers admit using their bra or bikini to keep their money close, with 10% of men opting to safeguard their foreign coins and notes in their shoes.

Working in exactly the same way as other MasterCard-branded cards in your wallet, prepaid cards are accepted at 9.2 million locations in Europe and 32.7 million locations worldwide, as well as 612,000 ATMs in Europe and 1.9 million ATMs globally. In addition, they offer the security benefits of not being linked to a bank account, meaning if your card is lost or stolen, you can stop the card to prevent the funds being used, while having the peace of mind that it isn’t linked to any personal details back home.

To find out more about MasterCard’s prepaid cards visit:

About the research

ICM interviewed 2033 adults aged 18+ from its online panel on 10th-11th August 2011. Interviews were conducted across Great Britain and data is weighted to be nationally representative of the 18+ adult population

About MasterCard Worldwide

MasterCard (NYSE: MA) is a global payments and technology company. It operates the world’s fastest payments processing network, connecting consumers, financial institutions, merchants, governments and businesses in more than 210 countries and territories. MasterCard’s products and solutions make everyday commerce activities—such as shopping, traveling, running a business and managing finances - – easier, more secure and more efficient for everyone. Learn more at or follow us on Twitter @mastercardnews.


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