City breaks also feel like the perfect match for that most introspective of seasons – whether it’s a weekend recharging your batteries in Reykjavik or a few pensive days in picturesque Prague.
What you don’t want to have to worry about while you’re away is money. Take the right credit card with you, and this’ll be a cinch.
The cost of the wrong card
Many cards will land you with huge charges if you use them abroad, bringing you back down to earth with a bump when you get home.
- Most charge a foreign load fee of around 2.99%, which means spending an unnecessary £3 to every £100 you spend.
- You’ll pay the same fee if you withdraw cash from a foreign ATM, along with a withdrawal charge of around 2.99% of the amount you take out – though it can be as high as 5%.
- If that weren’t enough, use a credit card at an ATM and you’ll be charged interest from the day you make the withdrawal. Because this is what’s known as a cash advance, the rate of interest charged is almost always astronomical (around 27%).
But there are cards created specifically for use outside of the UK which don’t sting you with these kinds of charges, making them ideal for your autumn city break.
1. The Halifax Clarity Credit Card
This one’s your best bet. You can use the Halifax Clarity Card anywhere in world without being charged any fees, and that even includes withdrawals from ATMs.
What’s more, if you can’t afford to clear your balance straight away, the card has a relatively low rate of interest at a representative 12.9% APR (variable) – which means the interest you’ll be charged will be a lot lower than average.
2. The Post Office Platinum Credit Card
Use the Post Office Platinum Credit Card overseas and you won’t be charged any fees either. What’s more, there’s no cash advance fee when you use this credit card to buy travel money at the Post Office.
This means if 500 Euros costs you £389 right now, that’s exactly what you’ll pay, without your bill being pumped up with fees.
The Post Office card offers 0% on balance transfers for 18 months, subject to a 2.98% fee, and 0% on purchases for the first three months.
3. The Saga Platinum Credit Card
If you’re aged 50 or over, Saga’s Platinum Credit Card also charges nothing on foreign transactions – so you’ll only pay the face value of the purchase when using the card.
It does come with a 2% fee (or £2 minimum) on cash withdrawals, but provided you clear the balance in the same month, you won’t be charged interest on it.
With that said, even if you’re unable to clear the balance, the card has a relatively low representative APR of 11.9% (variable).
4. The Nationwide Building Society Select Card
The Select Card from Nationwide offers unlimited, commission-free purchases abroad, but is only available to Nationwide current account (that’s FlexAccount, FlexDirect and FlexPlus) customers.
You’ll also get 0% on balance transfers for 26 months, subject to a 2.4% fee, and 0% on purchases for 15 months, as well as unlimited cashback at 0.5% on all Sterling purchases. This means you can pay for all your food and drink while you’re away and then take almost a year and a half to pay it off without being charged interest.
5. Aqua Reward and Aqua Advance cards
If your credit score isn’t perfect, you might struggle to get approved for these cards – but there are other options you can try.
The Aqua Reward card actually pays 0.5% cashback on purchases made in the UK to (use it in the airport for all your travel reading), so you can get a slice back of what you send.
The trade-off is that these cards have extremely high representative APRs (34.9%), so if you let your balance linger on into the next month, it could make your debt more difficult to pay off and perhaps worsen your credit score.
Now for the fun bit…
If you’ve not yet booked to go away (tell us if you’re planning to in our this week’s poll) and you’re looking for some inspiration, you’ll find it in spades over in Clare Walsh’s Top 10 autumn city breaks 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.