What is a use abroad credit card?
A use abroad card is a credit card that’s designed specifically for use while you’re travelling or on holiday. They usually have low or no fees when you use them abroad and may use favourable exchange rates, unlike other credit cards.
Frequently asked questions
What are the options for spending abroad?
When you’re abroad, your spending options include cash, prepaid cards, debit cards and credit cards:
Cash: You might think that it’s the easier option, but not everyone feels comfortable travelling with a large amount of cash – and there’s always the chance that you could lose it or have it stolen.
Debit: Using your debit card abroad can result in high fees – you might be charged a foreign currency fee and a fee for cash withdrawal.
Prepaid cards: Some prepaid cards charge an application fee of around £10, and can also charge you for withdrawing cash, topping up or getting a replacement card.
Credit cards: Using an everyday credit card when abroad can incur expensive fees, something you could avoid with a use abroad credit card.
While a use abroad card could be better option when travelling, it’s important to weigh up the benefits against your personal circumstances.
What are the benefits of a use abroad credit card?
- A use abroad card could offer low non-sterling purchase and transaction fees, as well as low interest rates.
- Using your credit card means you’re protected for any purchases that cost between £100 and £30,000. Under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act, if you don’t receive something you’ve paid for or the item was faulty, or the company you’ve bought something from goes bust, then your credit card provider (along with the retailer) is jointly responsible.
- Credit cards come with protection from identity theft, so you won't be liable for any illegal spending in the unfortunate event that your card details are stolen and used. You’ll be able to cancel your card as soon as you’re aware it’s missing.
- A use abroad credit card can offer cashback on spending and commission-free purchases while abroad.
What should I watch out for?
As well as standard fees and foreign usage charges, some credit cards will also charge you interest for using your card outside of the UK – even if you pay off the balance in full. You might also be charged if you use your credit card to take money out of an ATM machine.
What’s a non-sterling transaction fee?
Non-sterling transaction fees are typically made up of two parts: your payment network (Visa, MasterCard, etc) takes a commission for handling the purchase and your card issuer adds its own fee on top. Card issuers sometimes refer to these as foreign exchange fees.
You’ll be charged a non-sterling transaction fee every time you use your credit card abroad, whether that’s for purchases or withdrawing cash. You’ll also be charged a non-sterling transaction fee if you use your card online and pay in a currency other than sterling.
What’s a non-sterling purchase fee?
A non-sterling purchase fee is charged every time you buy something with your card in a foreign currency. With standard credit cards, this can be up to 3% on anything you buy. However, a use abroad card can be a cheaper option as they often have low non-sterling purchase fees or none at all.
Can I withdraw cash with a use abroad credit card?
Yes, you can withdraw cash with a use abroad credit card. But, it’s important to look out for a credit card that has a low non-sterling cash fee.
When you pay by card or withdraw cash abroad, you’re likely to be asked whether to accept the price in the local currency or convert it to sterling. Converting to sterling typically comes with high fees so always pay in the local currency.
Do I need to let my bank know that I’m travelling abroad?
When you’re going abroad, it’s a good idea to let your bank know or you run the risk of your card being blocked because your provider thinks it’s been stolen. You’ll find you can often report an upcoming holiday via your online banking.
It’s also advisable to note down your bank’s helpline number, just in case you have any problems while you’re away or your card is stolen.
How can I ensure credit card security abroad?
It goes without saying that you should keep your credit card safe, whether you’re at home in the UK or overseas. Keep it close and don’t reveal your PIN to anyone – shield the keypad when you’re carrying out a transaction or when you make a withdrawal.
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