Compare our best travel credit cards

Get a travel credit card that's free to use overseas


Compare our best travel credit cards
Fact checker
Last updated
September 21, 2023

What’s a travel credit card?

If you’re going abroad on a trip, travel credit cards can be the cheapest way to spend while you’re there.

Travel credit cards work like standard credit cards but don’t charge hefty fees for using them abroad as many standard credit cards do. 

You can use a travel credit card to make a fee-free purchase and pay the balance back later. If you don’t pay off the balance in full each month, you might be charged interest. 

Some travel credit cards might also let you withdraw cash from an ATM while you’re abroad without paying a fee, although these are rarer.

The very best cards might even allow you to earn cashback or rewards for spending on them while on holiday.

You can use a no-foreign-transaction-fee credit card in most shops, restaurants and other businesses or at ATMs.

Many businesses have signs to advertise which credit cards they accept. You’ll know you can use your card if its logo is on display.

Travel credit cards are one of the best ways to avoid foreign transaction fees when on holiday.”

Typical fees faced when using a standard credit card overseas

Non-sterling transaction fees

Buying something when overseas with a standard credit card - or even online from a non-UK website - generally sees you hit with a non-sterling transaction fee. This adds about 3% to your purchase price, often with a minimum amount per transaction of £3.

Cash withdrawal fee

Also known as a “cash advance”, this fee can be applied at home as well as abroad if you take out cash at an ATM. You’ll usually be charged around 3% of the amount withdrawn with a minimum fee of about £3. This means you could be hit with both the non-sterling transaction fee and the cash withdrawal fee when using your card overseas. You could also be charged interest on top. The cash advance fee also applies when buying foreign currency on a credit card.

Watch: All 6 types of credit card fees explained

Are travel credit cards the best way to spend money while abroad?

Credit cards with no foreign transaction fees are often the cheapest way to buy something while abroad

That's because the exchange rate you're getting is about the best you can find as a member of the public - with the Visa and Mastercard rates almost identical to those currency traders use for international transactions.

Another major benefit is that you get automatic purchase protection on things you buy worth more than £100 and up to £30,000 thanks to UK credit card laws.

However, credit cards for travel won’t be the most suitable option for everyone. One of the big drawbacks is that they often don’t offer 0% deals on purchases, which means that unless you clear your balance each month, you’ll pay interest on all your holiday spending.

Some credit cards might also charge monthly or annual fees, and if you’re late making a repayment or miss it completely, fees also apply. Missing payments risks hurting your credit score too.

Not everyone will be accepted for a travel credit card. To get the best deals, you usually need a good credit record. You also need to apply for your credit card in plenty of time.

Fortunately, there are plenty of alternative options to consider. The first is a specialist bank account. Many digital-only providers, such as Starling and Revolut, offer bank accounts with debit cards that are free to use overseas, and you’ll benefit from the Visa or Mastercard exchange rates while spending.

In addition, a travel bank account generally does not charge you anything for cash withdrawals (neither fees nor interest) – although some come with a limit on how much you can take out of the ATM.

Another option is a prepaid travel card. These can also be free to spend on and make cash withdrawals with, but you won’t always get the best exchange rate with them. 

However, if you can find one that doesn’t charge a fee for loading or holding money on it and that comes with Visa or Mastercard exchange rates, it will be as cheap as using a travel credit card.

Bear in mind that however you pay for items, if the retailer offers to convert the payment into pounds rather than the local currency, ask to stick to the local currency. Retailers typically offer poorer exchange rates, so if you pay in pounds sterling, you’ll pay more for your purchase than expected. 

Finally, it’s worth taking a small amount of travel money with you to cover any expenses that can’t be paid for on plastic.

Make sure you pay your travel card off in full each month, or you could be hit by interest charges.

How to choose the best travel credit card for you

The right travel credit card can offer you excellent exchange rates and be as cheap to use abroad as it is in the UK. This is what to look out for when choosing one.

Compare travel cards

First, check what cards are out there and whether you’ll qualify for them. You don’t want to apply for a credit card for which you’ll be rejected. Our CardFinder tool ranks cards by how likely you are to be accepted, so it’s well worth a look.

Check for fees

If you're planning to use a card abroad, you need to look out for those with no foreign transaction fees. If you can find a card with no ATM withdrawal fees too then that's an added bonus.

Check the exchange rate

Most credit cards use their network's exchange rate when you buy something abroad - so the Mastercard or Visa rate. Check to make sure that's what you'll be getting and that there are no added exchange fees.

Apply in plenty of time

Cards can take a while to get to you, so make sure you apply well ahead of any trip. Using a card match service, like our CardFinder tool, can speed this up as you're more likely to be accepted for the first card you apply for.

Our featured deals

Our editors have picked out some of our best travel credit card deals.

Editor’s pick
Our chosen travel card
Santander All in One Credit Card
Purchase term
0% for 15 months
29.8% APR

Representative example: The standard interest rate on purchases is 23.9% p.a. (variable), so if you borrow £1,200 the Representative APR will be 29.8% (variable).£3 monthly fee.

Show Details
Minimum Age
18 years

This card offers 15 months for balance transfers and 15 months on purchases. There is, however, a £3 a month fee for the card.

Author image
Senior Personal Finance Editor
Editor’s pick
Our chosen travel card for cashback
Barclaycard Rewards Credit Card
Up to 0.25%
28.9% APR

Representative example: The standard interest rate on purchases is 28.9% p.a. (variable), so if you borrow £1,200 the Representative APR will be 28.9% (variable).

Show Details
Minimum Age
21 years

Cashback on everything you buy and no fees overseas - including for ATM use - make this one of our top picks.

Author image
Senior Editor, Personal Finance
Editor’s pick
Our chosen travel credit card
Zopa Credit Card
Purchase term
34.9% p.a. variable
34.9% APR

Representative example: The standard interest rate on purchases is 34.9% p.a. (variable), so if you borrow £1,200 the Representative APR will be 34.9% (variable).

Show Details
Minimum Age
18 years

Zopa's credit card offers fee-free transactions abroad. However, it charges 34.9% APR on purchases, which falls on the high end of the spectrum relative to other cards.

Author image
Senior Personal Finance Editor

We are classed as a credit broker for consumer credit, not a lender.

How CardFinder works

CardFinder is a tool that matches you with the credit cards you're most likely to get based on your circumstances.

We then tailor the results depending on what you're looking for - a travel credit card, for example.

Using CardFinder means that you can rule out cards you're less likely to qualify for ahead of time, so you won't hurt your credit history by putting in applications that are later rejected.

That's because it uses a “soft search” credit check when comparing cards, which doesn't appear on your credit file to anyone except you.

CardFinder is a quick and low-risk way to ensure you only apply for a card you're likely to be accepted for.”



Find your ideal credit card in just a few minutes
Answer a few simple questions about your finances
We’ll match you with the cards you’re likely to get
Our 'soft search' ensures your credit score will not be affected
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Travel and no foreign transaction fees credit cards FAQs

What is the best way to avoid foreign transaction fees?

The best way to avoid foreign transaction fees is to look for a credit card or debit card that waives these fees. Some cards won’t charge for foreign purchases or cash withdrawals abroad, so compare your options carefully. Remember that with a credit card, you will need to pay off the balance in full each month to avoid paying interest, unless it offers an introductory 0% on purchases deal.

Is it cheaper to use a credit card or cash abroad?

Whether it’s cheaper to use a credit card or cash abroad will depend on a range of factors. If your credit card doesn’t charge foreign transaction fees, you pay off your balance in full each month to avoid interest, and your card offers a competitive exchange rate, it could be a cheaper option than cash. It’s also much safer.

Are my purchases protected abroad?

Yes, credit card providers' own protection schemes, Section 75 and the Chargeback scheme can protect purchases made abroad.

Can I withdraw cash on my credit card abroad?

Yes, you can withdraw cash on your credit card, but it’s best not to because you usually have to pay overseas credit card fees and interest. Here is how much it could cost you.

Where can I use my card?

You can use a credit card overseas in shops, restaurants and other businesses or at ATMs.

How many credit cards should I have?

There is no limit to the number of credit cards you can have, and having cards for different uses can suit some people. However, too many credit cards can hurt your credit record. Work out how many is too many here.

Could I use a prepaid card instead?

Yes, you could use a prepaid card instead. Although some charge you for using the card abroad, there’s no interest charge, and some come without international fees.

What is dynamic currency conversion?

Dynamic currency conversion is when a retailer converts your purchase into your own currency (pounds sterling) rather than keeping it in the local currency. However, the exchange rate will be much poorer, so if you’re given the choice, always stick to the local currency.

Travel credit cards explained

Find out more about the credit card's with no foriegn transaction fees
Why you should compare travel credit cards
Why you should compare travel credit cards
Can you use a credit card abroad?
Can you use a credit card abroad?
How long does it take to get a credit card?
How long does it take to get a credit card?

About the author

James Andrews
James has spent the past 15 years writing and editing personal finance news, specialising in consumer rights, pensions, insurance, property and investments

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1. Charges and fees for using a card abroad according to, March 2022