Best cards for overseas spending

Finding a cost efficient way to spend while overseas can help you keep your travel costs down.

A handful of cards have either no or low fees for spending and withdrawing cash abroad, making them one of the cheapest ways to get dollars, euros or whatever else you need when you're out of the country.

These cards also give you a better rate than at the vast majority of bureaux de changes, not to mention the security benefits plastic has over cash. But remember it is always wise to carry more than one form of payment, so even if your card or wallet is lost then you are still able to spend.

Every week we select our Moneywise Best Buys, highlighting the best credit and debit cards for use abroad.

Best credit cards for spending abroad

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. 

Halifax Clarity Credit Card
No fees on worldwide spending plus £20 cashback for new customers, representative 18.9% APR variable

The Halifax Clarity Credit Card remains a firm favourite with travellers as there are no fees to use it for purchases or cash advances worldwide. But be aware that you will pay interest at a rate of 18.9% APR on any cash withdrawals from the date of transaction.

New customers can earn £20 cashback when you open an account before 3 September 2017 and make a transaction abroad before 30 September 2017. This cashback will be paid within 90 days. 

Barclaycard Platinum Travel Card
No fees on worldwide spending, representative 18.9% APR variable

If you're making lots of cash withdrawals then consider the Barclaycard Platinum Travel Card. Unlike the other accounts listed, this doesn't charge interest from the day of withdrawal. This means overseas withdrawals will cost nothing, providing you pay off your bill at the end of the month. The no fees guarantee lasts until the end of August 2022

Creation Everyday Credit Card
No fees on worldwide spending, representative 12.9% APR variable

This card from Creation Financial Services has no fees on international spending anywhere in the world. If you withdraw cash using this card abroad you'll be charged interest from the day of the transaction at a rate of 12.9%.

This card is marketed for those heading overseas often so there are no promotional 0% balance transfers or 0% purchase deals available.

Santander Zero Credit Card
No fees on worldwide spending, representative 18.9% APR variable

Another option is the Santander Zero card. This also has no fees on worldwide spending or cash withdrawals. As with our other picks, interest is charged from the day you withdraw cash at a rate of 18.9% APR. 

Best debit cards for overseas travel

If you're unable or unwilling to take out a credit card then these debit cards are a good option for travel abroad.

Metro Bank current account
No fees on European spending or cash withdrawals

Metro Bank's current account is free to use for purchases and cash withdrawals in 33 European countries. However, if you go any further afield you'll pay transaction fees of 2.5% on any debit card purchases, and 2.5% (plus a £1.50 fee) for any cash withdrawals.

You have to sign up for an account in branch, which are mainly located in London and the South East.

Virgin Money Essential account
No fees on worldwide spending

If you don't live in London and the South East - or are travelling outside Europe - then the Virgin Money Essential current account is our top pick. This has no charges on debit card spending anywhere in the world.

But be careful when using a cash machine abroad as you'll be charged a flat £1.50 fee for each withdrawal. This account must be opened in person but Virgin Money has branches in most major towns and cities.

How are Moneywise Best Buys selected?

We look across as much of the market as possible to find the best deals using industry data from Defaqto.

All our picks are nationally available - online, by post or by phone. We try and pick products that are available to both new and existing customers, but we’ll highlight some offers for existing customers if they’re much better than what else is on offer.

Our choices offer the cheapest spending and cash withdrawals overseas. We prioritise cards and accounts that do not charge a monthly fee.

We reserve the right to use our discretion at all times.

Published: 01 July 2014
Last updated: 17 July 2017

Leave a comment

My husband and I spend 4-5

My husband and I spend 4-5 months in India each winter. Last season we were caught up in the currency problems in India. Can you confirm which cards would be right for us to use in India with no charges for spending or cash withdrawals. Our credit cards are c;leared each month by direct debit from our current account which is Santander Select Account. thank you.
Jennifer.

Hi Jennifer, as above the

Hi Jennifer, as above the Halifax Clarity Credit Card is our top all-round pick as there are no fees to use it for purchases or cash advances worldwide, plus there is a £20 cashback offer for new customers. You will pay interest at a rate of 18.9% APR on any cash withdrawals from the date of transaction, but that shouldn't amount to much if you pay the card off in full at the end of the month. If you're making frequent, large cash withdrawals then the other option would be the Barclaycard Platinum Travel Card, which doesn't charge daily interest on cash withdrawals but also has no sign-up bonuses.

Can't understand why the

Can't understand why the Nationwide Flex Plus debit card is never mentioned for drawing money out abroad or the Nationwide Select Credit card which again has no charges on use abroad, I never travel without them.

Hi Dorothy, the Nationwide

Hi Dorothy, the Nationwide Flex Plus doesn't make it into our top picks as that account has a £10 monthly fee and also charges a transaction fee for foreign purchases. The Nationwide Select credit card charges a minimum £3 non-sterling cash withdrawal fee, making it much cheaper to use the credit cards we have listed above.

Please note that the

Please note that the Barclaycard Platinum Travel Card is really just the standard Barclaycard Platinum Card with a concession that there's no overseas fees until 2022. Consequently I now have 2 identical Baclaycard Platinum card accounts, a new one with the concession and my original one without. The cards are the same - no mention of "travel" on the travel one. The new card also comes with the standard documentation saying that you WILL pay fees. This could have been rolled out better by Barclaycard.