Best cards for overseas spending

Credit card

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 withdrawals abroad, making them one of the cheapest ways to get dollars, euros or whatever else you need when you're out of the country.

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.

Whatever option you pick, it's 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. Read our guide on how to get the best deal on your travel money.

Remember many cards charge extortionate rates of interest or per-transaction charges on spending outside the UK, so finding the right card is key. 

When you're away, 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 expensive local exchange rate set by the retailer, which is a sneaky way to hike the price you’ll pay.

Find the best credit card with Moneywise Best Buys

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. 

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.

To see more credit cards on the market today visit the Moneywise credit card comparison tool.

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Published: 01 July 2014
Last updated: 22 May 2017

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