Get more for your holiday money: The best debit and credit cards to beat overseas fees

Using your debit or credit card abroad comes with hefty fees which can be a nasty surprise when your next statement rolls round, particularly after an expensive holiday.??

But there are ways to avoid extra costs when making purchases or withdrawing money abroad.?

Here we pick the best accounts which offer small or, even better, no fees - a worthwhile money-saver, particularly if you are a frequent-flyer.

Just make sure that you leave yourself time to apply before going away...

On holiday? Relax and make sure you're not spending too much on fees

On holiday? Relax and make sure you're not spending too much on fees

While it is hard to predict what rates will do in the future, the pound plummeted against both the US dollar and the euro thanks to the vote to leave the EU back in July last year, hitting?travellers' wallets hard.

Now it is more important than ever to avoid hefty fees from your bank to make sure your cash stretches as far as possible while on holiday.

Current accounts

They may be free to use at home, but debit cards can be serious offenders when it comes to extra holiday costs.

Some provider charge as much as ?£1.50 every time you use your card on top of loading the exchange rate.??

Big charges mean that you should avoid taking out small amounts of cash often and try to take out larger amounts less regularly, although this brings its own risks in terms of theft.

Luckily, if you don't want to pay out to spend, there are a few options out there that can help you to avoid extra costs.


Purchase fee?

Withdrawal fee (purchase fee will also be charged on top)?

Extra info

Metro Bank Current Account?

Free in Europe/2.5% elsewhere?Free in Europe/2.5% + £1.50 elsewhere?

No fee or rules.
Virgin Money Essentials AccountFree?£1.50?1 per cent interest on balances. No overdraft?
M&S Bank Current Account?



No fee or rules. £50 gift card for joining via switch service plus £5-a-month for 2 years, loyalty points for spending and £100 interest-free overdraft?
Nationwide FlexAccount?



Pay in £750 a month,Three months' interest-free overdraft
Tesco Bank Current Account?


No fee or rules.?3% on balances up to £3,000 and earn Clubcard points
Santander 123?

£1.25 + 2.75%?

1.5% of the value (at least £1.99)?

£5 a month pay in £500 a month and two active direct debits. Up to 1.5% interest on up to £20,000 & 3% cashback on bills.?
First Direct 1st Account??

2% (min £1.75, max £5)

Pay in £1,000 a month.?£125 for joining via switch service and £250 interest-free overdraft
Co-Operative Bank?


2% (min £2)

£110 to switch. Four direct debits, pay in £800 a month, paperless statements, up to £5.50 in monthly rewards.?
Halifax Reward?

2.75% + £1.50?


Pay in £750 a month, stay in credit and two active direct debits. £100 for joining via switch service and £3 monthly bonus?
Club Lloyds?

2.99% + £1
1.5% (min £2, max £4.50?2% on balances up to £2,000 £5 monthly fee or deposit £1,500 a month?
TSB Classic Plus

2.99% + £1?

1.5% (min £2, max £4.50)?

Pay in £500 a month. 3% interest on balances up to £1,500, 5% cashback on first £100 of contactless spending each month with debit card or Apple Pay?
Correct as of January 19 2017.??

Metro Bank - good for Londoners and Europe

Metro Bank's current account is a relatively small newcomer, proud of its customer-centric approach to banking. Its current account is a straightforward, no-frills option.

No overseas charges in Europe

If you travel a lot, it could be a great money saver – although you will have to pay the going exchange rate, Metro Bank will not charge you for using your card or withdrawing money from an ATM abroad.??

Metro Bank has unfortunately recently upped the fees for using your card in the rest of the world.?The challenger bank currently pays less than most providers at 1.9 per cent for each transaction plus an extra £1 for a cash withdrawal.

From 25 July 2016 it will charge 2.5 per cent on card purchases – and £1.50 on cash withdrawals from ATMs.

Watch out for

If you don’t live or work within the radius of the M25, this may put you off signing up because, at present, Metro only has a few branches - and most are in London and the South East.

Also, if you often find yourself overdrawn, you will need to take care.

Agreed overdrafts and unagreed overdrafts both incur interest at a rate of 15 per cent, which will be calculated daily on your account and applied monthly. There is no maximum, so watch out as interest will add up.

You will be charged £10 for paid and unpaid items.

Charges are capped at six a month - but bear in mind you may have to start paying interest on them if it tips you into the red.?

Watch out: Cash withdrawals abroad often come with flat fees of up to £1.50 each

Watch out: Cash withdrawals abroad often come with flat fees of up to £1.50 each

Virgin Money?- good for overseas purchases?

Virgin Money's Essential Current Account is a basic account offering no fees for overseas purchases.

Free to spend worldwide?

Virgin Money won't charge you for using your debit card overseas to make purchases. However you will need to avoid using the card to take cash out at an ATM abroad as it applies a £1.50 charge.

The Essential Current Account is a basic account without an overdraft - these can be a helpful tool for anyone looking to avoid hefty borrowing fees.?

A basic account will allow you to receive and make payments as normal, withdraw cash and pay with a debit card online or in shops. However, you won't be given a cheque book or overdraft facility.??

You can access your account in a Virgin Money Store or at any Post Office Branch. Some services are offered online or you can bank by phone or post.?

?0.75?per cent in-credit interest

Although the return doesn’t come close to the up to 5 per cent you can get with a standard interest-paying current account, 1 per cent is not to be sniffed at particularly as most basic accounts come with no added perks at all.?

Watch out for:

You have to be over 18 to open an account, but it accepts applications from those who are currently bankrupt.?

Remember while spending on the card is free you will have to pay £1.50 for withdrawals abroad.?

While there are no borrowing costs without an overdraft facility, if your balance goes below zero you must bring your account back into credit immediately.?


Currency cards offer holidaymakers the chance to load up a card with money to spend while they are away and potentially benefit from lower rates.?

Loading up a card in advance has the benefit of locking in the rate which means you know exactly what you have to spend.?

Travellers should make sure these rates are better than their bank and check all the small print.

Find out more about how they work here??

FairFX offers?This is Money and MailOnline readers?a free MasterCard prepaid card, which usually costs £9.95.

The main benefits include highly competitive exchange rates plus zero exchange rate fees.?

Readers are offered three choices of cards: euros, US dollars or the Anywhere card that is loaded with Sterling and can be used anywhere that displays the MasterCard Acceptance mark.??

There are no charges when paying in shops and restaurants and taking out cash costs £1 for Anywhere card, $2 for the Dollar card and €1.50 on the Euro card when used abroad - with a 0 per cent conversion fee.?

To get the card for free, you'll need to upload the following minimum amounts when you apply: Euro card - 60 euros, Dollar card - $75, Anywhere card - £50.?

Other good rival currency card offers are:

The Prepaid Revolut Mastercard uses an app and claims perfect interbank rates for most currencies. It carries no spending fees or cash machine withdrawal fees up to €650, $700 or £500 a month – a limit many holidaymakers may go over. A 2 per cent fee is applied above this.

WeSwap offers a card that matches travellers up with others who need to change currency and uses an app. It says that it always uses the real mid-market exchange rate and the amount you pay depends on how quickly you need the money. Instant costs 1.4 per cent, three days costs 1.3 per cent and one week costs 1 per cent. Up to two withdrawals worth more than £200 are free per day. You can swap for free when you invite friends. Transactions are limited to ten per day, replacement cards cost £5 and an inactivity fee of £2 per month applies after a year of inactivity.?

More to spend: Saving money on spending and cash fees means you will have extra for your trip

More to spend: Saving money on spending and cash fees means you will have extra for your trip

Credit cards

Most cards add around 3 per cent cost to the exchange rates banks themselves get.

You can avoid this by picking a specialist card, which won't apply non-sterling transaction fees or cash withdrawal charges.?

Watch out:?Most providers will charge interest on cash withdrawals immediately, until you pay off the amount in full.?

To avoid clocking up interest therefore avoid leaving it until you get home to pay off the balance after using an ATM.?


?charges no fees for withdrawing money or spending overseas but it is a relative newcomer to the market.

The provider charges a lower-than-average APR at just 12.9 per cent.

What it offers

The card charges 12.9 per cent interest on balance transfers, purchases and cash advances - that's 6 per cent lower than a typical credit card.

Use the card to make a purchase or cash take out money from an ATM abroad and there are no extra foreign transaction fees or cash advance fees.

The provider also charges no handling fee for making a balance transfer but it comes with no introductory 0 per cent interest deals on transferred debts or on spending.

Watch out for?

Only those with the best credit ratings will be offered the low 12.9 per cent interest rate. Credit card providers only have to offer the headline rate to 51 per cent of successful applicants -this means 49 per cent of those accepted could get a worse rate.

You could be offered a rate of either 17.9 per cent or 21.9 per cent.??

As with all credit cards you will need to make sure to make repayments on time and avoid spending beyond your limit to avoid a £12 fee.?

Interest is applied immediately on all cash withdrawals so try to repay the amount in full as quickly as possible to minimise the cost. However at 12.9 per cent, the rate will be lower than most typical credit cards apply.?

Purchases made abroad will not clock up any interest if you make sure to repay before the date shown on your statement.?

Barclaycard: Top deal for cash withdrawals but it doesn't last long

Like the rest of This is Money's top picks the Barclaycard Platinum Travel card charges no transaction fees for purchases or withdrawal abroad.

However, unlike rival offers you won't be charges interest on withdrawals as soon as they are made. This means you will be charged nothing to use your credit card at an ATM while abroad as long as you clear the amount before the end of your statement period.??

There is a catch however, the offer is only on the table until 31 August 2022, after that, you will be charged for foreign transactions.

It also offers every 11th ride with Uber you pay for using your card (up to £15) for free.?

Plus watch out, withdrawals at home will clock up interest at 27.9 per cent.?

Beach life: Don't let extra charges drive up the cost of your dream holiday

Beach life: Don't let extra charges drive up the cost of your dream holiday


Halifax Clarity credit card has long been a popular option for no-frills overseas spending.

It could therefore be the best option for those looking for a card which will be more widely accepted than the MBNA American Express offering and for those who would prefer a better known card provider than Creation.

Anyone signing up through comparison site MoneySupermarket before September 3 2017 can earn £20 cashback.?

What it offers?

Halifax demands no extra charges for spending abroad anywhere or any extra for withdrawing cash at home and abroad.

Standard interest is set at 18.9 per cent. Although this is slightly more expensive than Creation's card above you may be more comfortable with the Mastercard-backed Clarity Credit Card as it comes from a better-known provider.

There is no annual fee - so there are zero extra costs as long as you pay off your balance in full every month.

Additional cards on the same account are available and you can manage your account online.

Watch out for

Interest is charged immediately at the card’s standard rate of 18.9 per cent on cash withdrawals, but you can minimise the cost by repaying in full as soon as possible.?

Purchases abroad don't incur any interest as long as you repay the amount by the date shown on your statement.??

Depending on your credit score applicants may be given a higher interest rate of either 21.9 per cent or 25.9 per cent.??

You will be charged £12 if you pay your balance late, have a payment returned or go over your limit.?

Water sports: Credit card fees can push up the cost of paying for holiday activities

Water sports: Credit card fees can push up the cost of paying for holiday activities


Santander has relaunched its no-frills Zero Credit Card.

It comes with no overseas fees for spending or withdrawing cash from an ATM anywhere in the world.

What it offers

This card comes with no extra bells and whistles -?gives just one month 0 per cent interest on balance transfers and purchases from account opening. Balance transfers to the card incur a 3 per cent handling fee with a £5 minimum.

There is no monthly fee and a standard interest rate of 18.9 per cent.

Watch out:

While withdrawing cash clocks up no extra fees, you will need to clear your balance quickly as there is no interest-free grace period given and it comes with a higher interest rate of 29.9 per cent.?


Over-50s provider Saga offers a Platinum Credit Card?charges no foreign transaction fees and comes with a relatively low charge for using an ATM at 2 per cent.

But unlike most credit cards cardholders will not be charged interest on their withdrawal for 55 days. It offers nine months interest free purchases and balance transfers ( 3 per cent fee). Standard interest then jumps to 11.9 per cent.

Aqua Advance?credit card is geared towards those with a less-than-perfect credit rating, offering them the change to reduce their APR from 34.9 per cent to 19.9 per cent after three years if they use the card responsibly.?

It charges nothing to make a purchase overseas on the card however cash withdrawals clock up a 3 per cent charges (minimum £3).?

The Nationwide offers its current account customers a?Select credit card which charges no commission on purchases anywhere in the world, plus it pays 0.5 per cent cashback on all of your spending while you are in the UK.

But it does charge a 2.5 per cent fee for cash withdrawals and you'll be charged 27.9 per cent representative APR interest on that money even if you repay in full.

The card comes with 26-months 0 per cent deal on balance transfer and no interest on purchases for 15 months. Standard interest is set at 15.9 per cent.?

The Post Office credit card?comes with no purchase fees on when shopping abroad or when buying in a foreign currency from home, online or over the phone.

There are also no cash fee for using the card to buy travel cash at the Post Office. Withdrawing money from an ATM overseas will incur a 2.5 per cent fee, set at a minimum of £3.
















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