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What is an overseas spending credit card?

Save money on purchases abroad by comparing the best credit cards for overseas spending at MoneySupermarket. Our selection features 0% deals on purchases and balance transfers, no fees or commission on foreign currency or products, services, cashback offers and other incentives.

If you’re heading overseas for a holiday or a business trip, you probably want to take a credit card. After all, it’s a convenient way to carry money, widely accepted, and can be useful in an emergency. But did you know that your everyday credit card might not be the best option?

Most credit cards impose extra fees and charges for foreign transactions, so they can work out expensive when you buy goods and services abroad. If you are a regular traveller, it’s therefore worth considering a credit card that offers a good deal on foreign spending.

You can compare credit cards online with MoneySupermarket’s free, independent comparison service, to make sure you get the right card for your next trip abroad.

What are the advantages of overseas spending cards?

If you use your credit card abroad, the costs can quickly mount up. Most card firms levy two charges for overseas transactions. The loading or conversion fee applies every time you use your card abroad and can be as high as 2.99%. Then there’s a withdrawal fee if you take cash out of an ATM with your credit card. The withdrawal fee is either a flat rate or a percentage of the amount withdrawn, up to about 2%.

However, there are a number of credit cards that either don’t levy these fees, or charge less than the average, so they are a better option for your holiday or business trip abroad.

Are there any disadvantages to the cards?

Overseas spending cards can be a cheap way to buy goods and services abroad, but you should avoid withdrawing cash from a foreign ATM on your credit card. You will almost always have to pay a cash withdrawal fee. Plus, the interest rate on cash withdrawals tends to be higher than the rate on purchases and balance transfers – and you start to rack up interest immediately as the interest-free period does not apply to cash withdrawals. All in all, it’s a costly way to get some cash.

Are there any alternatives?

If you don’t want to take a credit card abroad, you could consider a pre-paid currency card, which works like a pre-paid gift or phone card. You basically load the card with currency before you travel and then spend or withdraw cash as necessary.

It’s safer than carrying cash: if you lose your card, your issuer will cancel the old one and send a replacement. Pre-paid cards are also easily accessible – almost anyone can get one, whether or not they have a good credit history. So they are a good option if you need your money in a hurry.

But make sure you understand and compare charges. Some cards levy an application fee of up to £9.99. Then there might be ATM withdrawal fees, top-up charges or a fee for a replacement card.

You can check out all the best travel money deals on MoneySupermarket’s online comparison service.

We're free and independent, as well as offering exclusive deals you can't get anywhere else.

Moneysupermarket is a credit broker – this means we’ll show you products offered by lenders. We never take a fee from customers for this broking service. Instead we are usually paid a fee by the lenders – though the size of that payment doesn’t affect how we show products to customers.