Best Credit Cards to Use Abroad

Learn all about using credit cards abroad with our tips and tricks.

Updated: May 21, 2024
Matt Crabtree

Written By

Matt Crabtree

|
Rebecca Goodman

Edited By

Rebecca Goodman

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Preparing yourself for your next holiday abroad? If you've used your debit card on holiday before, you'll know hefty charges are usually involved.

Using the correct credit card can cut your costs, if you can find one without foreign transaction fees.

The start of the year is the most popular time to book a foreign holiday but whenever you're planning on going away, it's important to make sure you've got the right plastic in your wallet.

Take the wrong card with you and you could end up with a big bill in hidden fees. Millions are hit with these fees every year, and a family of four in France could spend an extra £212 if using a debit card, according to Moneyweek.

In this article, we'll explain how holiday credit cards work, when and how you should use them, what we think are the best cards available and how to make sure you're not spending more than you need to.

Card NameScoreDetails
1. Halifax Clarity Credit Card★★★★★Learn more
2. Barclaycard Rewards★★★★★Learn more
3. NatWest Credit Card★★★★★Learn more
4. Metro Bank Credit Card★★★★Learn more
5. 118 118 Money Credit Card★★★★Learn more

The pros and cons of holiday credit cards

Before diving into our top travel card picks, let's explore the pros and cons.

Pros

✔️ Depending on the credit card provider, you can earn rewards for using your card abroad, such as travel miles, hotel perks, free checked bags, airport lounge access and priority boarding

✔️ You don't have to worry about paying foreign transaction fees using a specialist travel credit card

✔️ Most travel cards allow you to withdraw cash for free so that you won't be charged withdrawal fees

✔️ Most travel credit cards have no monthly or annual fees

Cons

❌️ Some travel credit cards have a high APR

❌️ You'll be charged interest on cash withdrawals when the transaction is complete

The five best travel credit cards

The travel credit card market has much to offer.

We've narrowed down five of the best travel cards to make your holiday smooth sailing. All credit cards mentioned in our top picks are protected by Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act.

1. Halifax Clarity credit card

Halifax Clarity Credit Card

Halifax Clarity Credit Card
Credit Limit
Subject to status
Representative % APR (variable)
22.9% APR
  • Charges the same interest rate on everything you buy.
  • No foreign exchange fees.
  • Any money spent abroad will be set by the Mastercard exchange rate on that day.

Representative Example – If you spend £1,200 at a purchase interest rate of 22.9% p.a. (variable) your representative APR will be 22.9% APR (variable). Your APR and credit limit may vary depending on your circumstances.

The Halifax Clarity credit card is ranked at the top of our list because it has a low APR, and most applicants are accepted.

Whether you're a new or existing Halifax customer, you can apply for this travel card. It comes with zero fees when you use it to make purchases or withdraw cash abroad. However, there are immediate interest charges on cash withdrawals.

You can use the card anywhere that accepts Mastercard but some cash machines may apply a charge for cash withdrawals (you should be told in advance if this is going to happen though). Unless the card is cleared each month you'll also pay interest on anything outstanding.

2. Barclaycard Rewards credit card

Barclaycard Rewards

Barclaycard Rewards
Credit Limit
Minimum £50
Representative % APR (variable)
25.9% APR
  • Get 0.25% cashback on your everyday spend.
  • No fees abroad.
  • Protection on purchases over £100.

Representative Example – If you spend £1,200 at a purchase interest rate of 25.9% p.a. (variable) your representative APR will be 25.9% APR (variable). Your APR and credit limit may vary depending on your circumstances.

Barclaycard Rewards has no foreign transaction or cash withdrawal fee and can be used anywhere that accepts Visa.

To be eligible for this credit card, you will need to meet the criteria including being at least 21-years old with an income of more than £21,000.

There are great benefits to using this travel credit card, such as earning 0.25% cash back on new purchases, which is paid to you annually. You'll also get up to five months' free of Apple subscriptions, including Apple Music, Apple TV+, Apple Fitness+, and more.

3. NatWest credit card

NatWest Credit Card

NatWest Credit Card
Credit Limit
Minimum £250
Representative % APR (variable)
12.9% APR
  • Low rates on purchases and balance transfers.
  • No balance transfer fees.
  • No foreign transaction fees on purchases.

Representative Example – If you spend £1,200 at a purchase interest rate of 12.9% p.a. (variable) your representative APR will be 12.9% APR (variable). Your APR and credit limit may vary depending on your circumstances.

The NatWest Credit Card is great for everyday spending both in the UK and abroad. There is no fee for non-sterling transactions and it has the lowest average APR of all the cards on our list.

If you're worried about losing your travel credit card abroad, as long as you have the NatWest mobile app, you can lock and unlock your credit card whenever you need to, and you can order a new replacement credit card too.

You can use the credit card anywhere that accepts Mastercard. You must also meet the bank's conditions which include being 18 or older, a UK resident, and earning at least £10,000 per year.

4. Metro Bank credit card

Metro Bank Credit Card

Metro Bank Credit Card
Credit Limit
Minimum £500
Representative % APR (variable)
14.9% APR
  • Interest-free period up to 56 days.
  • No monthly fees.
  • Free European transactions.

Representative Example – If you spend £1,200 at a purchase interest rate of 14.9% p.a. (variable) your representative APR will be 14.9% APR (variable). Your APR and credit limit may vary depending on your circumstances.

The Metro Bank credit card is ideal if you plan to travel in Europe because it doesn't charge any fees in most EU countries. However outside of the EU there is a non-sterling transaction fee of 2.99%.

It also has a low representative APR of 14.9% and up to 56 days interest-free on purchases when you pay your total balance on time.

To be eligible for this card you need to be at least 18-years old, have a job and a regular income and be a UK resident.

5. 118 118 Money Credit Card

118 118 Money Credit Card

118 118 Money Credit Card
Credit Limit
Subject to status
Representative % APR (variable)
34.0% APR
  • Perfect for credit building.
  • £12 for late or missed repayments.
  • 5% cash withdrawal fees.

Representative Example – If you spend £1,200 at a purchase interest rate of 34.0% p.a. (variable) your representative APR will be 34.0% APR (variable). Your APR and credit limit may vary depending on your circumstances.

If you're worried about not being accepted for a travel credit card due to having a bad credit score, with 118 118 Money Credit Card, you have a higher chance of being accepted. It allows you to purchase abroad without fees and is also a credit builder card. Our final pick here may have the highest APR rates, but it doesn't charge you for ATM withdrawals abroad.

The maximum credit limit on this card is £1,200, which is ideal if you're planning a short weekend away somewhere in Europe and trying to stay within a budget.

Interest rates and credit limits are guaranteed, and they allow you to check eligibility on their website which doesn't affect your credit score.

The Best Travel Credit Cards — Buying Guide

In this section, you'll learn all about travel credit cards, the fees for spending overseas, and some helpful tips for spending abroad.

What is a Travel Credit Card?

A travel credit card is a payment card designed specifically for use abroad. If you use your debit card abroad, you’ll face ‌‌foreign transaction fees.

Every time you purchase abroad, you'll be charged by the bank for converting foreign currency into pounds sterling. However, you can spend abroad without worrying about foreign transaction fees with a specialist travel credit card.

Most, if not all, UK travel credit cards are protected under the consumer credit act, so all of you'll benefit from purchase protection whilst you're paying for things outside of the UK.

When looking for the ideal travel credit card, consider the following factors:

  • Non-sterling transaction fees: you want to ensure the travel credit card has little to no non-sterling transaction fees to make the most of using your card abroad. The Mastercard exchange rate ensures your abroad transactions are converted, and rates reflect wholesale market rates or government-mandated rates.
  • Non-sterling cash fees: when using your card, the credit card provider will exchange the foreign currency for sterling; this will happen with every transaction abroad. So, finding a card with little to no sterling cash fees is ideal. As the Mastercard exchange rate is calculated daily, you may find interest varying daily on your purchases.
  • Withdrawal fees: withdrawing cash from a credit card can be expensive anyway, but withdrawing cash abroad is even more costly due to the extra interest added. Before withdrawing cash from your travel credit card, you must know the fees and charges.
  • Annual fee: all of our top picks have no annual fees. However, not all travel credit cards will have zero annual fees.
  • Credit rating: depending on your credit score, you may not be eligible for all travel credit cards. To avoid application rejection, use an eligibility checker before you fill out a credit card application.
  • Introductory offers: look around for card providers who offer zero interest rate periods to avoid paying interest whilst on your travels.

Useful Tips for Overseas Spending

Along with using specialist travel credit cards, we have other valuable tips for overseas spending.

  • Prepaid currency card: if you'd rather not use your debit or credit card abroad, consider a prepaid currency card. Before you travel, you preload it with cash and use it like a direct debit. Prepaid cards are also ideal for sticking to a budget whilst travelling.
  • Keep your debit card with you: even if you've got your travel credit card, it's a good idea to carry it in case of any issues with your credit card.
  • Avoid cash withdrawals: cash withdrawals can be expensive, so try and refrain from withdrawing cash abroad. Also, some ATM withdrawals charge fees. Additionally, if you withdraw cash from your credit card, it's not protected against theft.
  • Carry currency: it's always a good idea to carry some foreign currency to spend abroad. Some places may be cash only, so having some with you is always a good backup plan. In the build-up to your holiday, look for competitive exchange rates on currency to ensure you get the best deal.
  • Alert your bank provider: it's always a good idea to notify your card provider of your travels, as they think the transaction showing on your bank account is strange, which can risk putting a temporary block on spending.

The Verdict on Using Travel Credit Cards

Using a travel credit card has more benefits than using your debit card whilst travelling.

You'll save yourself money on fees and lower interest rates. If you regularly travel abroad, our top picks can help you long-term, as they have some of the best deals on the market.

Now that you can pick the best travel credit card and you've read our handy tips to spend overseas, you're ready to have the holiday of a lifetime!

Related Guides:

FAQs

What Type of Card is Best to Use Abroad?

Which UK Credit Card Doesn't Charge Foreign Transaction Fees?

Is it Best to Use a Credit Card Abroad?

Can You Make Cash Withdrawals from Credit Cards Abroad?

What is the Safest International Payment Method?

Is it Cheaper to Use a Credit Card or Debit Card When Travelling?

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Mentioned Banks

About Metro Bank Metro Bank is a retail bank based in the United Kingdom. Founded in 2010 by Vernon Hill and Anthony Thomson, it is the first new high street bank to open in the...
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NatWest, or National Westminster, is a retail and commercial bank based in the United Kingdom. It is one of the ‘Big Four’ UK clearing banks and has more than 7.5million personal banking...
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About Halifax Formerly known as Halifax Building Society, Halifax is a British bank. It is named after the town in West Yorkshire where it was founded in 1853 as a building...
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