Best cards for overseas spending

The pound's recent collapse means more people will be keeping an eye on the exchange rate they can get on holiday.

Some recent reports have found people are getting less than a Euro for each pound they hand over at the airport, so finding an efficient way to exchange your cash is key to cutting down your travel costs.

The cards you’ll find on this page will give you a better rate than you’ll get at the vast majority of bureaux de changes, not to mention the security benefits plastic has over cash.

Remember, it's often sensible to pay for purchases when you're abroad by credit card – if anything untoward does happen, you will usually be covered by your provider for purchases over £100. But many cards charge extortionate rates of interest or per-transaction charges on spending outside the UK, so finding the right card is key. 

If you're given the choice to spend in pounds or the local currency, always pick the local currency. If you don’t, you’ll pay the exchange rate set by the retailer, which is a sneaky way to hike the price you’ll pay.

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Best credit cards

MBNA's Everyday Plus Card stands out as the best card for holidaymakers. It doesn't have any introductory 0% offers, but there are no charges for spending abroad. There are no charges for cash withdrawals either, but you’ll be charged interest from the point you take money out at a low 7.4% APR representative rate. This is an American Express card, so it might be less widely accepted than a Visa or Mastercard. 

The Platinum Travel card, from Barclaycard, charges no fees on foreign transactions, though you’ll pay a 2.99% fee for any cash withdrawals, and you’ll start paying interest immediately, at 27.9%. For normal purchases the interest rate is 11.9% APR.

The Everyday Card from Creation Financial Services won't charge a fee for purchases or cash withdrawals when you're abroad, and nor will it add a surcharge to your exchange rate, though you'll still be charged interest on cash immediately at 12.9% APR representative.

The Saga Platinum Credit Card is also very attractive, though its only available to people aged 50 or above. The card charges no fees to spend abroad, though you'll be charged interest on cash withdrawals, plus a 2% fee. The APR is 11.9% representative. There's also 0% interest to pay on purchases and balance transfers for the first nine months. The balance transfer fee is 3%, or £90 for a £3,000 balance. 

Best debit cards

Metro Bank's current account is free to use in mainland Europe. If you go any further afield you'll pay transaction fees of 1.9% on any debit card purchases, and a £1 fee for any cash withdrawals. You'll have to sign up for an account in branch, which are mainly in London and the South East. 

Finally, the Nationwide Building Society Flex Plus Account charges no fees to use cash machines in other countries, though there’s a 2% fee for any transactions in a foreign currency. This is a premium account, which costs £10 per month. 

Your Comments

With interest rates so low the best value is surely to be obtained by one of the prepaid conversion cards.  If you are happy basing things on your smart phone - though you still can have a card for use at retailers and ATMS you could try Revolut.  I have one and find it very efficient.

Thanks Pragmatical. 

This article looks at the best debit and credit cards, but prepaid conversion cards can be good value too.

Revolut is one of the better prepaid cards out there, but I do think it could be a little more upfront about its charges, particularly as it boasts 'zero hidden fees'. 

To be fair, the fees are low - nothing on debit card transactions, and 2% on any cash withdrawals over £500 each month. Replacement cards cost a fiver. 

But you need to dig into the small print to find the pricing structure, and these charges aren't included in the tools on Revolut's site that claim to show how much you'll save. 

We asked Revolut about this. A spokesperson said it is a fair point and they'll look into it.


I have post office credit card does that now charge you when you pay with it when abroad

Thanks Gene.

The Post Office Platinum card is good for spending overseas, with no fees like you say. It's more expensive for cash withdrawals though. You'll be charged a 2.5% fee if you withdraw cash (minimum £3), and the Post Office will start charging interest immediately.