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People are increasingly likely to turn to plastic cards to pay for smaller items, it is claimed.

Fiona Wilkinson, senior vice-president at Visa Europe, says over 70 per cent of expenditure on Visa cards is on debit, with smaller items being purchased.

"This could be due to the fact more people are using their cards – both debit and credit – rather than cash," she continues.

People need to be extra vigilant when using their cards abroad, the expert adds, with holidaymakers needing to keep track of how much they spend.

Checking this against statements when returning home is also key, Ms Wilkinson states.

A report on consumer spending from Visa Europe recently found that the number of Visa debit and credit card transactions processed at UK restaurants in the first three months of 2009 rose 19 per cent compared with the same period in 2008.

Ecommerce also continued to grow strongly despite the recession with transactions up 22 per cent and total spend up 26 per cent to almost £10 billion on 2008, it also found.

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