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Nationwide is set to abandon charge-free transactions when its cards are used abroad, reports suggest.

Despite being one of the few providers to allow overseas transactions to go through free of charge, the building society has now decided to impose the charges it faces on to its customers.

"We have to maintain the balance between offering competitive products whilst ensuring these are sustainable in the long term, particularly in the current economic climate," a spokesman for the company revealed.

From May 6th, the fee will be passed on to credit card users, while debit card holders will incur the charge from June 1st.

The rate will be increased by one per cent from July 1st, which will be done so in line with price increases made by Visa.

Commission will, however, not be charged on transactions carried out abroad, the building society stresses.

According to credit action, total UK personal debt at the end of November 2008 stood at £1,456 billion, while total secured lending on dwellings at the end of November 2008 stood at £1,222 billion.

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