Best credit cards to use abroad

Credit cards

Best credit cards to use abroad

By Rob Goodman

Article 6 of 6

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Best credit cards to use abroad

Regularly travel abroad? Find out everything you need to know about spending on credit cards overseas.

If you regularly travel abroad, you may want to get a dedicated credit card to use on your trips.

By doing this, you'll be able to avoid the hefty foreign spending fees that many providers charge.

Which? Money compare: compare the rates on credit cards to use abroad, and see how well providers score for customer service

Costs to use your credit card abroad

There are a number of fees and charges your card provider may levy if you use your credit card overseas.

'Foreign-loading fee' or ‘Foreign-exchange commission’ 

This is a fee that your provider will charge you every time you make a transaction, and it will be a percentage of the amount spent. You can typically expect to pay up to 2.99% each time you use the card.

Interest 

If you use your credit card to make cash machine withdrawals, your provider will typically start charging you interest immediately. You will still have to pay this, even if you pay off your credit card in full before the end of the month.

Cash-withdrawal fee

You can expect to pay a fee of around 3% (or minimum £3) when you take money out of a cash machine, in addition to the foreign-loading fees and interest charges. 

Check with your card provider to find out what charges you will have to pay overseas. 

Best credit cards to use overseas

There are some credit cards that have 0% fees for spending and cash machine withdrawals overseas.

In April 2016, our research found that the Halifax Clarity Credit Card, MBNA Everyday Plus American Express and Metro Bank Credit Cards were some of the cheapest for overseas spending. 

With all of these cards, there are no fees for overseas spending and cash machine withdrawals within Europe. With a Metro Bank Credit Card, there are fees and charges for transactions made outside of Europe. 

Even with cards that don't charge you for cash machine withdrawals, you may still want to avoid taking cash out. This is because many of them will still begin to charge you interest as soon as you make the withdrawal. 

If you are organised and pay off your credit card really quickly, you can avoid incurring hefty interest charges. But this may be a hassle you'd rather avoid.

Pros and cons of using a credit card overseas 

Pros: 

  • Credit cards are ideal for paying for things where money will be 'ring-fenced' on your account as a deposit, such as hotel bookings or car hire.
  • Purchases of more than £100 and up to £30,000 are covered under section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act. This means that if something you pay for on your credit card is substandard, you can reclaim the money from your credit card provider.
  • If you are a victim of fraud, under the Consumer Credit Act your provider should refund you the money from the fraudulent transactions, provided you haven't been negligent. 

Cons: 

  • Remember to tell your provider your travel plans or your card may be blocked, leaving you unable to pay for things.
  • There is a small risk of harming your credit rating if you use your credit card for ATM withdrawals.

Consumer rights: Your rights under section 75 of the consumer credit act

  • Last updated: June 2016
  • Updated by: Marie Kemplay