Abbey relaunches fee-free overseas card

Costa del Sol, Spain

Abbey has relaunched its Zero credit card offering fee-free foreign usage when customers use their plastic abroad.

In March holidaymakers were dealt a blow when Nationwide scrapped its fee-free policy on foreign transactions on its credit and debit card offerings, while in April Thomas Cook started charging 2.99%. Around the same time, Abbey withdrew the Zero credit card offering, leaving the Post Office as the only credit card provider to waive foreign usage charges.

However, Abbey has now relaunched its deal, which also offers 0% of balance transfers (subject to a fee of 3% or at least £5) for the first 12 months and on purchases for the first three. The deal also waives any fees when used for cash advances.

After the 0% periods end, both balance transfers and new purchases start attracting an interest rate of 18.9% APR.

Roger Lovering, managing director of credit cards at Abbey, says: "We are delighted to bring back the popular Zero card in time for the summer holiday season.”

Fee-free cards are generally considered one of the cheapest ways to spend when overseas, with other providers generally charging between 2.75% and 3% on foreign transactions.

So, if a family spent £2,000 while on their holidays they could end up forking out up to £60 for using their card, according to

In contrast, you wouldn't pay any charges for using the Post Office's offering or Abbey's Zero credit card.

However, while these deals are great for overseas spendng, there are better deals out there for balance transfers and new purchases.   

"Abbey's introductory rates are impressive, though it's 0% on balance transfers period of nine months falls some way short of Virgin's newly extended 15 month offer as well as Abbey's own 15 month balance transfer card, and there are plenty of cards offering more than three months 0% on purchases," explains Kevin Mountford, head of credit cards at

"Customers should take full advantage of this competition by using their credit cards shrewdly. Ultimately, the Abbey Zero card is for spending abroad - if you want a card for balance transfers or purchases there are better deals out there."

How it compares

Card Typical
transfer offer
purchases offer
Zero Visa
18.9% 0% for 12 months
(3% fee, £5 min)
0% for three
0% 0%
Post Office
16.9% 0% for 12 months
(2.98% fee)
0% for three
0% 22.48%
Gold Visa
16.9% 0% for 13 months
(3% fee, £5 min)
0% for three months 0.84%* 27.9%
Thomas Cook
19.9% n/a n/a 2.99% 29.9%
Virgin Money
16.6% 0% for 16 months
(2.98%, £3 min)
0% for three months 2.99% 27.9%
M&S Money
15.9% 0% for six months
(2% fee, £5 min)
0% for 10 months 2.75% 25.9%

* increasing to 1% from 1 July 2009





Do you work out what balance transfer fee you will pay before switching credit cards?

Yes: Of course. Fees can be significant and I don't want any nasty surprises.
43% (343 votes)
No: I only ever take out a fee-free deal.
17% (138 votes)
Yes: It's the only way to work out the true cost of the credit card facility.
25% (200 votes)
No: I assumed a 0% balance transfer deal meant there were no fees.
14% (109 votes)
Total votes: 790