The best fee-free travel credit cards to use abroad

Updated on 09 December 2019 | 1 Comment

Looking forward to going abroad? Don't let credit card fees spoil your holiday. Here's our roundup of the cheapest foreign usage and fee-free travel credit cards.

Many credit card providers promise 'fee-free spending abroad'.

But, if you use your credit card to withdraw cash abroad you could get charged up to 5%, which is a big problem for travellers, particularly outside Europe.

Luckily, there are a number of cards that also allow fee-free cash withdrawal.

It's worth noting you'll usually get charged interest on cash from the day you withdraw it, so you'll want to pay off your balance as soon as possible to minimise the interest.

Keep in mind the exchange rate each card offers will be different (Mastercard's exchange rate is generally better) and you might want to take that into consideration when comparing deals.

Compare travel credit cards and check your chances of getting approved with loveMONEY

Why use a credit card for spending abroad?

You could, of course, choose to pay for things with your debit card.

But the big benefit of using a credit card is that you're protected if there are any issues with purchases you make over £100.

Under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act, you can claim compensation either from the merchant or your credit card provider.

You may also be able to earn cashback on your purchases, both in the UK and abroad, by using certain credit cards. 

So let’s take a closer look at the credit cards that don't charge you for using them abroad – or you can just head straight to our best buy tables to compare deals.

Always pay in local currency

Travel credit cards are great – providing you pay in the local currency.

Shops and restaurants abroad may offer you the chance to pay in pounds.

This is known as 'dynamic currency conversion' and means you're likely to get a terrible conversion rate, ruining the benefits of your credit card.

Always, always opt to pay in local currency.

Couple using credit cards on the beach. (Image: Shutterstock)

Halifax Clarity Mastercard

The Halifax Clarity card (representative APR 19.9%) won't charge you for purchases anywhere in the world.

If you make any cash withdrawals, you won't be charged a fee, but you will be charged interest from the date the withdrawal is made – so you should avoid using this card at an ATM if possible.

Barclaycard Rewards

With Barclaycard Rewards (representative APR 22.9%), you don’t pay any fees on purchases abroad and get 0.25% cashback on all spending until 31 August 2023.

So, you can avoid non-sterling purchases fees as long as you pay in the local currency.

The credit card also doesn’t charge interest on cash withdrawals abroad ­– as long as you pay off your balance in full every month.

Compare travel credit cards and check your chances of getting approved with loveMONEY

Santander Zero

The Santander Zero Mastercard (representative APR 18.9%) offers fee-free spending and cash withdrawals worldwide. It also offers 12 months interest-free on purchases (just remember interest on cash withdrawals is charged as soon as you take the money out).

With the Santander Zero credit card, you can also earn up to 15% cashback at selected retailers through the Retailer Offers programme.

You can check out loveMONEY's review of Santander Zero here

Creation Everyday Mastercard

At 12.9%, Creation's credit card has the lowest interest rate among the credit cards listed in this article.

Compare travel credit cards and check your chances of getting approved with loveMONEY

Credit cards on the beach. (Image: Shutterstock)

What other challenger banks offer

Challenger banks Starling and Monzo don't charge foreign spending or ATM fees – although Monzo limits you to £200 cash withdrawals every 30 days (after this, a 3% charge on withdrawals applies). 

Revolut is mainly fee-free and uses the interbank exchange rate, which it claims gives better rates.

Metro Bank won't charge fees for spending or cash withdrawals in Europe only.

For more information, take a look at The best debit cards to use abroad.

Prepaid currency cards

Another option is prepaid currency cards.

The great thing about these cards is they allow you to load up your card with funds before you jet off abroad, as well as when you’re out there, making it easier (in theory) to stick to a budget.

Certain cards don’t charge you for making purchases overseas or for withdrawing cash.

And because these cards are prepaid, there’s no need to worry about interest rates. What’s more, you’ll generally get a competitive exchange rate. But they do come with some fees, so read the small print carefully.

Check out: The best UK prepaid cards for spending abroad for more information.

Read more on loveMONEY:

How to get a cheap flight

How to claim compensation for delayed and cancelled flights

The popular holiday NOT covered by most travel insurers


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