Focus on: Leading credit card for use abroad

Millions of holidaymakers every year return home only to find they have been stung with steep foreign usage fees for paying by plastic while overseas.

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If you’re planning a break abroad this year, then it makes sense to think about getting a credit card which won’t charge you if you want to make purchases while you are away.

The Post Office Credit Card is one of very few credit cards which offers no foreign usage charges on purchases and, as an added bonus, people who are accepted for the card until March 27 will be offered a return flight to Europe to selected destinations. This offer is available exclusively through moneysupermarket.com for the next couple of weeks..

Here, we take a look at how the card stacks up against the competition…

What’s the deal?

Wherever your holiday destination, the Post Office Credit Card won’t charge any foreign usage fees on purchases overseas. Many cards impose commission fees of 2.75%, which means if you spent 250 euros at an exchange rate of 1.0665, you’d pay £234.41, plus another £6.45 in commission.

And if you purchase your travel money at a Post Office branch using your card you won’t be charged the usual cash advance fee that you would have to pay if you were using an alternative card.

This card charges no interest on balance transfers for the first 12 months and no interest on purchases for the first three months. After that, the card has a representative annual percentage rate (APR) of 16.9%. The card comes with free purchase protection against accidental loss, damage or theft of almost everything paid for with your card for up to 90 days after you've made a purchase.

If your application for the credit card is successful, you will then receive a voucher for your flight which you can use to get to Paris (Charles de Gaulle), Brussels, Amsterdam, Madrid, Dublin or Berlin, subject to availability. The Post Office is working with independent travel agent P&MM Travel Ltd to offer the flights.

The voucher will expire in 90 days. However, you can travel any time up until December 14, 2011, you just need to book within that 90 day period. The offer excludes travel on public holidays including Easter. 

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Any catches?

While you don’t have to pay any foreign exchange loading anywhere, there is a 2.50% fee (minimum £3) if you want to make a cash withdrawal. You’ll also be charged 24.1% interest on cash withdrawals, so if you want to use your card to take out money while you’re abroad, it may be worth considering other options.

For example, Halifax’s Clarity Card has no foreign usage fees on purchases and doesn’t charge for cash withdrawals, although you’ll have to pay a representative APR of 12.9% on the amount withdrawn, even if you clear the debt immediately.

If you’re applying for the card to take advantage of the flight offer, remember that all airport taxes, fuel, surcharges and passenger service charges are excluded. These costs are the sole responsibility of the persons travelling.

Verdict

This card is an excellent choice if you tend to make lots of purchases overseas. However, you should avoid using it to make cash withdrawals while you are abroad, otherwise the charges could quickly mount up.

The return flight offer is a great perk too, but don’t hang around if you are planning on applying for the card, as this offer only goes to those who are accepted for the card by March 27.

If you are transferring a balance, remember to try to pay off your debt within the introductory period so that you avoid paying interest.

Top tip

If you are planning on taking out a new credit card specifically for overseas use, remember that applications can take as long as four weeks to process – although they are often much quicker – so you’ll need to apply several weeks before your holiday to ensure the card arrives in time.

If you have left it too late, then check what charges your existing card provider imposes for foreign use. If they are steep, then consider taking a pre-paid card. You can usually get one of these in a week or so, and they can be loaded with the currency of the country you are going to and used like a debit or credit card.

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. We’re free, independent and compare all UK credit cards, as well as offering exclusive deals you can’t get anywhere else. Contact moneysupermarket.com at Moneysupermarket House, St David’s Park, Ewloe, Flintshire, CH5 3UZ. © Moneysupermarket.com Ltd 2011

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