Finding the right credit card to use abroad
Using your credit card to make payments is often a very convenient option but you’ll need to be careful if you want to avoid being charged unexpected fees.
We’ll give you the lowdown on using credit cards abroad including what fees are usually charged and what kinds of cards you can take out if you want to save money.
In This Guide:
- Benefits of using credit cards abroad
- Exchange rates
- Fees charged when using a credit card abroad
- Credit card with no foreign transaction fees
Benefits of using credit cards abroad
Credit cards are more or less universally accepted as a method of payment, indeed some hotels will actually require a credit card in order for you to be able to make a booking.
Using a card has the added benefit of allowing you to avoid exchanging cash at a bureaux de change, being charged commission and having to carry around large amount of cash at any one time.
Booking airline tickets and hotels is also very straightforward with a credit card and has the added benefit of giving you payment protection on the purchase. Some cards allow you to earn reward points such as Airmiles that you can then use to purchase flights or hotels.
To get the most out of your credit card abroad, and to avoid extra fees and bad exchange rates, you’ll need to pick your card wisely. Some cards will have a huge array of fees that apply when being used abroad and using them in other countries should be avoided.
There are some credit cards that are designed more specifically to be used abroad and won't charge you as many fees. Luckily there are a huge range of cards out there designed just for this purpose. Compare these cards with Money Expert to see what kind of fees you can avoid.
One of the biggest things you need to think about when spending money abroad, whether you’re using card or cash, is how to benefit from the best exchange rates.
You’ll be able to check the representative rates at any time for any currency online, but the chances are that the rates you’re actually going to be offered anywhere will differ slightly.
Different cards will use different exchange rates and so it’s a good idea to get in touch with your card issuer before you go abroad.
Some cards, like the Post Office Platinum MasterCard will allow you to spend money in Europe at the MasterCard daily Euro exchange rate without charging any extra fees.
Fees charged when using a credit card abroad
Depending on how you use your credit card abroad, there are a few different fees you could incur, so it’s always important to be careful.
Just as it would at home, withdrawing cash abroad will generally cost you money. Cash advance fees can often be very high with credit cards and so you should only really do this if it’s absolutely necessary.
Most conventional credit card issuers will charge fees for any transactions made overseas. When they do, they will charge a percentage of every transaction, up to around 3-5% in many cases.,/p>
Some card issuers will also charge for any transactions made in foreign currencies, even if you aren’t in a foreign country. So if you buy anything online from France in Euros, your card issuer might charge a percentage of that transaction as well.
Charges will vary from issuer to issuer, and so you should get in touch with your card provider to find out what foreign transaction fees they charge.
Credit card with no foreign transaction fees
There are various cards available that will charge 0% foreign transaction fees designed for those who travel abroad regularly, whether for work or for pleasure.
As a general rule, these cards will still charge you for cash withdrawals from ATMs abroad, but some will allow you to purchase foreign currency from certain bureaux de changes for free.
If you are the sort of person who does travel often, then you should compare credit cards with no foreign transaction fees online. Our credit card comparison service is quick, free and easy to use.