The best fee-free travel credit cards to use abroad

Planning an overseas holiday? Don't let credit card fees spoil your holiday. Here's our roundup of the cheapest foreign usage and fee-free travel credit cards.

If you’re hoping to travel abroad this year, it’s a good idea to plan ahead and consider what you use to pay for stuff overseas.

Some credit card providers promise 'fee-free spending’ abroad. But, if you use your credit card to withdraw cash overseas you could get charged up to 5%, which is a big problem for travellers, particularly outside of Europe.

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

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 cost.

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

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 (up to £30,000).

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. 

Always pay in the 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 opt to pay in the local currency.

Now, let’s take a closer look at what the market leaders have to offer.

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

Barclaycard Rewards Card

With the Barclaycard Rewards card (representative APR 28.9%), you don’t pay any fees on purchases abroad and get 0.25% cashback on spending.

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

But you’ll need a good credit history to apply and need to have a personal income of over £20,000 a year, so this card might not be an option for everyone.

Halifax Clarity Mastercard

The Halifax Clarity card won't charge you for spending abroad if you pay off your balance in full every month. 

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.

You'll need to check your eligibility for more information on your personalised interest rate and credit limit.

Credit cards on the beach. (Image: Shutterstock)

Metro Bank Credit Card

If you regularly travel in Europe, you may want to consider the Metro Bank Credit Card.

The bank doesn't charge any fees for transactions within the Single European Payments Area (SEPA). 

Outside of Europe, you'll pay a 2.99% fee for overseas spending and a 2.99% fee for cash withdrawals (plus an additional £1.50 charge).

On top of this, the comes with a relatively low 18.9% representative APR and doesn't carry an annual fee.

Zopa Credit Card

While Zopa is best-known as a peer-to-peer lender, it may also be a good choice as a travel card as you won't pay any fees for purchases abroad.

If you're saving for a holiday (or any major expense), the lender's Credit Cushion feature allows you to set aside a portion of your available balance each month. 

You can then use these funds as and when needed (for example, on a holiday).

However, the card may not be the best choice if you're planning on making cash withdrawals at home or abroad as it charges a £3 fee per transaction in any currency.

The card has a 34.9% representative APR.

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 come with some fees, so read the small print carefully.

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

Still not found the right card for you? View our complete guide to credit cards to see all your options.

*This article contains affiliate links, which means we may receive a commission on any sales of products or services we write about. This article was written completely independently.

Read more on loveMONEY:

How to get cheap and free flights

How to claim compensation for delayed and cancelled flights


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