Credit cards for overseas travellers

Off on hols? A dedicated overseas usage card is a great idea.

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Charges for paying by plastic when you're abroad can be a real pain in the pocket, but there are cards which won’t sting you for overseas use.

Using the right overseas credit card on your travels is likely to get you a better deal than taking cash with you, and is a much better option than taking your ordinary credit card.

Lots of credit and debit cards wallop you with huge fees when you use them abroad to pay for things, or just to withdraw cash.

That’s because many cards add a ‘foreign load fee’, typically around 2.99%, when you use them to make purchases overseas.

So, if you spent £200 on your card, you’d have to pay just shy of £6 in foreign load fees. Similarly, when you withdraw money from a cash machine, you’ll often be hit by cash withdrawal fees of up to 2.99% of the amount withdrawn, or a minimum charge of £3.

The costs don’t end there. If you’re using a credit card, you’ll also be charged interest on the amount you’ve taken out (from the moment you withdraw it) on top of the cash withdrawal charge, even if you pay off your balance in full that month.

The good news is there are several cards which don’t apply steep charges when you use them abroad, so if you’re busy planning your summer hols, it’s well worth thinking about applying for one of these cards ahead of your break.

Here’s our rundown of some of the top cards - along with some very tasty MoneySuperMarket exclusive offers.

Barclaycard Platinum Travel Card

The Barclaycard Platinum Travel card isn’t available on any other price comparison sites, and you can use it abroad with no non-sterling transaction fee until 31 August 2022.

Unusually, as well as fee-free purchases, you won't be charged a fee for withdrawing money at cash machines abroad either. This makes it a great option for people who want some paper money too.

You must repay the card in full at the end of the month though in order to avoid paying interest. Plus always pay bills or withdraw cash in local currency to take advantage of the 0% fee.

There are no 0% introductory interest rates available, so you’ll be charged interest at a representative 18.9% APR (variable)***** on your purchases and representative 27.9% APR (variable) on any cash machine withdrawals both at home and abroad from the date you open the account.

The card does, however, offer an incentive if you’re an Uber user. Use your Barclaycard to pay for your rides with Uber and every 11th ride is free, up to the value of £15.(T&Cs apply).

This offer ends on 31 December 2017. You must earn a minimum of £20,000 a year to be eligible for this card.

Santander Zero

Santander’s Zero card doesn’t charge any foreign transaction fees on purchases and cash withdrawals abroad as long as you make them in the local currency. 

You can also earn cashback through selected retailers when you spend using the card once you’ve registered for online or mobile banking.

There’s no interest charged on purchases for the first month, but after that you’ll be charged interest at a representative 18.9%* APR (variable)*.

If you’re accepted for the card, this is the rate you’ll get. Some other cards charge a higher rate if you’ve got a less than perfect credit score.

You must have a gross annual income of at least £7,500 to be eligible for this card.

Halifax Clarity Credit Card

This card has no foreign purchase fees or withdrawal charges so you can use it anywhere worldwide without worrying about charges.

If you apply for the card via MoneySuperMarket by 3 September 2017, you’ll receive £20 cashback when you use the card to make a purchase in a foreign currency by 30 September 2017.

The Clarity card charges interest at a representative 18.9% APR (variable)** if you don’t clear your balance in full each month, but you could be offered a different rate to this depending on your individual circumstances and credit history.

Nationwide Building Society Select Credit Card

Nationwide’s Select Credit card can be used abroad with no commission charges, but you’ll only be eligible to apply if you have a current account with the building society.

The card has a 0% introductory rate on purchases for the first 12 months, and after that charges a representative 15.9% APR (variable)***. You may get a different rate depending on your individual circumstances.

Post Office Money Platinum Credit Card

There are no fees for purchases you make overseas using the Post Office Money Platinum card, and there’s also no cash fee if you buy travel money at the Post Office.

This card could be a good option if you’re looking to move a balance from an existing card, as it offers 0% on balance transfers for the first 18 months, although there is a 2.89% balance transfer fee. There is also a 0% introductory rate on purchases for the first 28 months. After these introductory periods finish, this card has a representative 18.9% APR (variable)****, although you may get a different rate depending on your circumstances.

You must earn at least £8,000 a year to be eligible for this card.

Virgin Money Travel Credit Card

The Virgin Money Travel Credit Card offers no fees on purchases worldwide.

You can also transfer a balance to this card with no fee, and pay no interest on it for 12 months (the interest rate goes up to 19.9% p.a. (variable) after the first 12 months). But you must transfer a balance within the first 60 days to get the promotional offer, which includes 5% off at Virgin Holidays and £25 cashback on Virgin Money Travel Insurance and Virgin Money International Money Transfers. If you transfer a balance after the first 60 days, you’ll have to pay a 5% fee, and you’ll be charged 19.9% interest (variable).

There is an 0% introductory interest rate on purchases for 12 months, after which the rate you’ll be charged is representative 19.9% APR (variable)******.

Aqua Advance

The Aqua Advance card has no foreign purchase fees worldwide, but note that this card is aimed at those who are trying to rebuild their credit profile (you can get your credit report and credit score for free).

There is no 0% introductory interest rate, so you’ll be charged interest at a representative 34.95% APR (variable)******* on your purchases.

If you stay within your credit limit and repay on time, your interest rate could go down gradually, to 19.9% APR (variable) after three years.

You might get a different interest rate to the one shown here, because this depends on your circumstances.

You're not eligible for this card if you've had a CCJ in the last 12 months or if you've been declared bankrupt in the last 18 months.

The card offers an exclusive £20 Amazon gift certificate for MoneySuperMarket customers (T&Cs apply).

B Credit card from Clydesdale Bank

Clydesdale Bank’s B Credit card has no foreign exchange fee on purchases made in the local currency.

This excludes cash withdrawals, which are charged at an annual rate of 27.9%, with a 3% fee (minimum £3).

It charges a representative 9.9% APR (variable) on purchases******** and the same rate on balance transfers, with no balance transfer fee.

The card also comes with an app that can help you keep track of your spending. You must have a compatible tablet or smartphone to access this app.

And if you prefer to pay by cash…

Never, ever leave buying your foreign currency until you reach the airport or ferry terminal. Exchange rates are often dismal, and you’ll find much better deals if you buy your travel money online in advance.

*Santander Zero representative example: if you spend £1,200 at a purchase interest rate of 18.9% p.a. (variable), your representative rate will be 18.9% APR (variable).

**Halifax Clarity Credit Card representative example: if you spend £1,200 at a purchase interest rate of 18.95% p.a. (variable), your representative rate will be 18.9% APR (variable).

***Nationwide Building Society Select Credit Card representative example: if you spend £1,200 at a purchase interest rate of 15.9% p.a. (variable), your representative rate will be 15.9% APR (variable).

****Post Office Money Platinum Credit Card representative example: if you spend £1,200 at a purchase interest rate of 18.9% p.a. (variable), your representative rate will be 18.9% APR (variable).

*****Barclaycard Platinum Travel Card representative example: if you spend £1,200 at a purchase interest rate of 18.9% p.a. (variable), your representative rate will be 18.9% APR (variable).

******Virgin Money Travel Credit Card representative example: if you spend £1,200 at a purchase interest rate of 19.9% p.a. (variable), your representative rate will be 19.9% APR (variable).

******* Aqua Advance representative example: if you spend £1,200 at a purchase interest rate of 34.95% p.a. (variable), your representative rate will be 34.95% APR (variable).

******** B Credit Card from Clydesdale Bank representative example: If you spend £1,200 at a purchase interest rate of 9.9% pa (variable) your representative rate will be 9.9%APR (variable).

In order to keep the rate you are offered, you will need to stay within your credit limit and pay the minimum monthly payment on time.

All cards subject to status and terms and conditions. Over 18s, UK residents only.

 

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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