Using a credit card abroad

Credit cards can be a convenient way to pay abroad, but each transaction you make will be affected by the exchange rate. There are also several fees to look out for, including:

  • Non sterling transaction fees: This is usually a fixed percentage fee of the amount you spend on your card abroad, for example 2.99%

  • Cash withdrawal fees: This is usually a fixed fee percentage charge based on the amount you withdraw, for example 5%

  • Interest on any cash you withdraw: This is charged daily from when you make your withdrawal, and is usually a high APR, for example 69.9%

They also charge interest and all the same fees that other cards charge. Here is how much credit cards can cost you.

However, if you get a credit card with no foreign transaction fees, you can save money every time you use your card.

Before you travel

Tell your credit card provider when you are going and what countries you will visit by:

  • Phoning your provider

  • Logging into your online banking

  • Visiting a nearby branch

If you don't tell them, your bank may block your card when you're abroad, as foreign transactions can get flagged as suspected fraud.

Bring a backup with you in case you lose your card, such as cash, travellers' cheques, a debit card, or another credit card.

Choosing the best card

There are credit cards designed for using overseas, offering one or more of the following:

  • No transaction fees

  • No cash withdrawal fees

  • A lower rate of interest for cash withdrawals

Getting a new credit card that doesn't charge you abroad can save you hundreds.

Use our travel credit card comparison to check the amount each card charges for usage abroad.

If you are getting a new credit card to use abroad, apply at least two weeks before you travel so there is enough time for your card to arrive in the post.