Your Essential Guide to the Best Credit Cards for Travel

I’ve always found changing, accessing or withdrawing cash abroad to be a complete pain in the arse! From hidden fees to crappy exchange rates, it’s frustrating when you see the money you spent so long saving get whittled away before your trip has even begun. So after many years of travelling – and even more of trying to find the best credit cards – I have compiled this guide to help you find some of the best credit cards for travel.

While this is by no means an exhaustive list of options, at the time of my research these three UK credit cards offered the best rates for overseas spenders. So for those of you headed on an international adventure, let’s dive in.

The best credit cards for travel

1. Halifax Clarity Credit Card

Pros:

  • 0% exchange rate fees both in the EU and worldwide.
  • No withdrawal fees.
  • No charge for spending abroad as long as you repay IN FULL every month, however they do charge for cash withdrawals (5p-ish per £100 a day) – so try to minimise these as seen below.
  • An excellent long-term track record for overseas spending.
  • Great feedback from existing customers.

Cons:

  • They charge 19.95% – 27.95% interest rate on ATM withdrawals. To avoid paying these, I pay off the amount I have withdrawn within 24 hours of the withdrawal.
  • May not be suitable for those with low credit scores.

Important:

  • Repay IN FULL every month to avoid to avoid interest on spending.
  • You will be charged interest on overseas cash withdrawals until they are repaid in full. Representative APR (variable): 9%.
  • Card issuer: Mastercard.

2. Barclaycard Rewards Credit Card

Pros:

  • No fees or interest on spending and cash withdrawals overseas as long as you repay IN FULL.
  • Exchange rate fee 0% in Europe and worldwide.
  • Get 0.25% cashback on spending worldwide.

Cons:

  • May not be suitable for those with poor credit scores.

Important:

  • Check Barclaycard’s eligibility checker before applying https://letmechoose.barclaycard.co.uk/
  • Repay IN FULL every month to avoid the representative APR (variable) 22.9%-27.9% interest rate on overseas cash withdrawals.
  • Card issuer: Visa

3. Santander Zero Credit Card

Pros:

  • 0% exchange rate fee across Europe and worldwide.
  • No cash withdrawal fees.
  • You don’t get charged interest on spending abroad as long as you repay IN FULL, but do for cash withdrawals until they’re paid off (5p-ish per £100 per day) – so try to minimise these.

Cons:

  • Interest rate of 18.9% APR representative on all overseas withdrawals until it is repaid IN FULL. To avoid these fees pay off your card within 24 hours of the withdrawal.
  • May not be suitable for those with low credit scores.

Important:

  • Repay IN FULL to avoid the 18.9% interest rate as mentioned above.
  • Card issuer: Mastercard.

Are credit cards my only option?

Signing up for one or more of the best credit cards for travel isn’t your only option – there are plenty of alternative options that could prove to be more beneficial to you when travelling abroad.

The most common one is using alternative or challenger bank accounts, such as Monzo or Transferwise. If you are the sort of person who doesn’t trust themselves with a credit card or a big credit limit, make sure to check out my blog on alternative bank accounts. This is full of great advice on those of you looking to save cash while spending abroad without a credit card.

If you’re not keen on opening a new bank account or signing up for a credit card, taking cash, travellers’ cheques or a pre-loaded travel card is an oldie but a goodie. If you decide on this option, be sure to check out my great tips on saving up for your bucket list adventure!

Choosing the best credit card for travel

Whichever card (or cards) you choose, make sure to read the full terms and conditions before signing up. You should also check your eligibility for the card using the bank’s free eligibility checker. A rejection can adversely affect your credit score, and nobody wants that.

When I travel abroad, I often use a combination of credit cards and bank accounts to really make the most of my money! Loyalty just doesn’t pay, anymore. But, as always, before you spend, make sure you have enough money to repay IN FULL every month.

But most importantly of all – enjoy your trip! Whichever corner of the globe you are headed to, I hope you have an amazing time.

Disclaimer:
  • Please note the information in this blog is correct as of March 2020. If you know of any changes please let me know in the comments.
  • This information does not constitute financial advice, always do your own research on top to ensure it’s right for your specific circumstances and remember we focus on rates not service.
  • Do note, while we always aim to give you accurate product info at the point of publication, unfortunately price and terms of products and deals can always be changed by the provider afterwards, so double check first.
  • We often link to other websites, but we can’t be responsible for their content.