A quarter of holidaymakers who use credit or debit cards while travelling have had their plastic blocked by their provider, research shows.

Almost two thirds (61%) of consumers affected by the freeze on spending said they had notified their bank in advance that they were going abroad, according to price comparison website uSwitch.com.

The blocks meant that, on average, Brits racked up £42 in call and data charges contacting their bank to get cards reactivated – a total of £240 million across the UK.

uSwitch.com is calling on banks to provide customers with an automatic refund of any costs associated with reactivating their credit or debit card, if the bank had previously been informed about the overseas trip.

Its survey found that almost half (49%) of consumers rely on credit or debit cards when travelling abroad and the experience of the cards being blocked was time-consuming and costly.

A fifth (22%) had to borrow money to make it to the end of their holiday, and a quarter (27%) were left feeling stressed and anxious.

On average, Brits spent 66 minutes on the phone to their bank to unblock their card and one in six (15%) had to wait for over 24 hours before their card was reactivated.

For 6% of holidaymakers, being unable to access their cash meant they were forced to come home early.

Tom Lyon, money expert at uSwitch.com, said banks typically block cards for security reasons but the research showed many cards are stopped even after the customers notify their provider about travel plans.

“Banks need to up their game and look to technology to ensure that they are providing consumers with an efficient service when they are stranded abroad with a blocked card,” he said.

The survey found that consumers would like banks to offer instant text alerts, send an email or use app notifications to let them know when their card has been suspended.

A fifth of holidaymakers would like to see banks use technology to identify genuine fraud – for example, using GPS tracking to see how far the card is from the consumer’s phone at the point of purchase.