However, the likelihood is that you won't always want to carry cash around with you. And it's also likely that you be charged by your current debit or credit card provider for making purchases or cash withdrawals while abroad.
In this case, now could also be the time to consider applying for a credit card that's designed for overseas use as it usually takes one or two weeks to receive a credit card once you have been accepted. But what are the main benefits of taking out a credit card specifically for overseas spending and what cards are currently offering the best deals? We take a look.
Why choose an overseas credit card?
We all do a fair amount of spending when abroad and, just as when we're at home, we appreciate the convenience that a credit card offers. But would you spend so freely on your card if you knew that you would be hit with an extra bill for every transaction you make?
This is usually just what happens. A foreign exchange fee - also known as a loading fee or a conversion fee - which can be as much as 2.99%, is applied each time you hand your card over the counter. And then there is a standard cash withdrawal charge that will either be charged as a flat rate or a percentage of the amount you have withdrawn.
But there are a number of overseas credit cards that don't charge fees for use abroad - and some even have interest-free period on purchases and balance transfers.
The best overseas credit cards
When it comes to credit cards
Halifax Clarity and Sainsbury's Gold (for a monthly fee of £5) are the only ones that don't charge either loading or withdrawal fees anywhere in the world.
Post Office and Saga Platinum cards along with Nationwide's Select credit card (although this is for FlexAccount holders only) won't charge for over-the-counter spending when you are overseas, but will charge for cash withdrawals.
Some of the cards, such as Nationwide and the Post Office, also come with 0% interest on purchases for a certain amount of time. You can compare these and other deals at MoneySupermarket's
overseas credit card channel.
While a handful of overseas cards will not charge for cash withdrawals abroad, bear in mind this means they will not charge 'extra' - not that they won't charge at all. All credit card providers will charge for taking money out of the wall and, at up to 5% of the amount you are withdrawing or a minimum of £5, it is notoriously expensive.
Furthermore, the interest rate on cash withdrawals is higher rate than the standard quoted APR on credit cards - usually just shy of 27%. And worse still, you start paying that interest immediately. In short, it's best that, whether you are at home or abroad, you avoid cash withdrawals on your credit card altogether.
The other point to note when sifting out the best overseas credit card for your June Bank Holiday break is that they are usually reserved for those with excellent credit ratings. You can assess your chances of being accepted first by using the
SmartSearch tool at MoneySupermarket. What are the alternatives?
If you don't want to take on another credit card, or don't have a credit score that's up to scratch, a
prepaid card could be the way to go. This allows you to load the card up with currency before you travel and then use as you would a normal credit or debit card.
However, you should try to avoid using a prepaid card for anything where a deposit is taken, such as checking in at a hotel or hiring a car, as the money will come straight off this card and could leave you short.
When comparing prepaid cards, you should always look for one that that does not come with a set-up fee, purchase fee, or loading fee. The
FairFX prepaid card is good example - and it can be topped up free of charge by debit card or bank transfer.
Be sure to pick the right card as it comes in either Dollar or Euro currency versions.
However, most prepaid cards do come with a cash withdrawal fee so it is probably best to treat them as you would a credit card and avoid making ATM withdrawals.
In this case it's a good idea to take at least some currency with you on holiday and either an overseas credit card or a prepaid card - or both if you wish - as an alternative.
When buying your
travel money it makes sense to do so as early as is possible. Certainly don't leave it until you get to the airport as the inflated exchange rates and commissions charged at the airport bureaus could see you paying an extra £10 for every £100 you buy.
For more on your holiday money options read Cathy Toogood's feature
over on the TravelSupermarket blog.
Please note: Any rates or deals mentioned in this article were available at the time of writing. Click on a highlighted product and apply direct.
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