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Last updated: 05/06/2024 | Estimated Reading Time: 4 minutes

Best credit cards to use when travelling

When you decide to go on holiday you want to make sure that you make the most of your credit card at every stage of the process. Part of this will include choosing the right card to begin with.

We’ll go over the different benefits that different types of card have when it comes to going on holiday so that you can make sure that you pick the right one.

Some cards are designed such that they can be of great when you’re booking things like flights and hotels before you go away, and some are designed to help you once you get to your destination.

In This Guide:

Before you go

First, we’ll take a look at how you can best use your credit card before you go on holiday.

Avios and Virgin Miles

Certain rewards based cards will earn you points for every pound you spend that you can then redeem on airline tickets.

Avios (previously known as Airmiles) and Virgin Flying Club Miles are the two main examples of these kinds of points.

Cards that offer these airline reward points tend to come with relatively high annual percentage rates (APR) and so they are only really worth it if you plan to fly abroad a lot.

If you fly often and have enough of an income to be able to pay off your credit card balance regularly, then a good airline reward credit card can be a great idea. If you use one of these cards correctly, you could find yourself getting free flights to a variety of destinations after just a few relatively large purchases.

Section 75 Protection and Bookings

All credit cards come with payment protection measures thanks to Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act 1974. This protection means that you can request a refund from your credit card issuer if the retailer in question cannot provide one for whatever reason. It applies to all purchases valued between £100 and £30,000.

So, for example, if you book flights and then the airline you book with goes bust, you should be able to get the money you spend back from the company who provided your credit card.

For this reason, booking flights and hotels using a credit card can give you that extra peace of mind that we all like to enjoy, even if doing so will add minor surcharges to your booking cost.

If you don’t think that you’ll truly be able to benefit form a card that offers airline reward points then you could be better off by simply applying for a card with the lowest APR possible and then using it to make bookings protected under Section 75.

While you're abroad

Once you get to your destination, you’re unlikely to benefit from using an airline rewards card unless that card also offers you 0% interest on foreign transactions.

0% Foreign Transaction Cards

Most conventional cards will add extra charges (usually around 3% of what you spend) for making transaction in foreign countries.

There are, however, various cards on the market designed specifically for use abroad that charge 0% interest on foreign transactions.

Unless you get one of these cards, you’re likely to be better off using cash or your debit card to make any purchases while you’re abroad.

Exchange Rates

Wherever you’re going, you’ll want to make sure that you’re benefitting from the best exchange rates possible while you’re on holiday.

Some of the best rates are available online, but you’ll need to change your currency a while before you go away if you do choose to do it on the internet as it will take a few days for you to receive your money.

Some cards will allow you to spend money abroad at the MasterCard basic exchange rate, without charging any commission.

Cash Advance Charges

One big thing to be careful about when using your credit card abroad is withdrawing cash from ATMs. Doing so at home will cost a lot of money due to high cash advance fees, but doing so abroad will be even more costly.

You should always, wherever possible, stick to using your debit card for cash withdrawals and only use your credit card for in-store transactions.

Compare credit cards to use abroad

Whether you're after a card that will earn you Avios points or one that charges 0% interest on foreign transactions, you should make sure that you compare online to see what kind of cards you could get. Our credit card comparison service is free and easy to use so you've got nothing to lose by having a look at what kind of representative rates and reward schemes you could benefit from.