Make sure before you head overseas that you’ve got the best card for booking flights, hotels and spending on your holidays.
Using a credit card to pay for your travels can earn you rewards, such as Avios or Virgin miles, as well as giving you protection on purchases you make overseas.
However you will need the right kind of card to get the best rewards. Travel cards can largely be divided into two categories:
- Cards that are good to book your flights and hotels
- Cards for everyday spending overseas
1. Booking flights and hotels
It’s always a good idea to book a flight or pay for your hotel booking on a credit card, manly because of the purchase protection you’ll enjoy.
Most credit card purchases benefit from protection under ‘Section 75′ of the Consumer Credit Act. Which allows you to claim your money back though your credit card provider if the hotel or airline goes bust.
Avios vs APR
Many airlines have credit cards that offer reward schemes and frequent flier miles (ie Avios points and Virgin miles). A few big purchases on these cards could give you enough points to fly somewhere exotic for free.
However, the cards that give the best airline rewards are often the most expensive, charging either high interest or annual fees.
So it’s a trade off between price and rewards, but if you’re a frequent flier who always repays your card balance, getting a rewarding airline card could be the best way to go.
What to look out for
- Make sure you can repay your full balance at the end of each month, or the interest charged could dwarf the value of the points you receive.
- If you can’t repay your card in full at the end of each month you’ll likely be better off buying your flights with a 0% interest purchase card.
- Don’t use one of these cards overseas, unless it also gives you fee-free overseas purchases.
Make sure you know all the facts about using credit cards abroad before you travel.
2. Travel money and spending overseas
Using a credit card for your overseas spending is convenient and as with booking flights offers you payment protection over your purchases.
But the problem is that a typical credit card will charge you a fee for overseas use (normally 1-4% of the transaction or minimum charge of £1-£3), but there are cards especially designed for travel, which are fee free to use overseas.
What to look out for
- Check it’s free to use in your destination – often credit cards will have no overseas usage fee in Europe, but will charge for worldwide use. A select few are fee free, wherever you are in the world.
- Don’t withdraw cash – A card will charge you cash advance fees to withdraw money and possibly charge higher interest rates too (just like it will in the UK), the same applies for buying money at bureaux de change. Also check the ATM doesn’t charge an extra fee.
- Exchange rates – You’re not likely to get the best available exchange rates with a credit card, and you could be better off buying your travel money beforehand, or using a pre-paid travel money card.
- Travel Money Saving Tips – find the best exchange rates and ensure you don’t get stung by credit card charges
- Airline credit cards: Airmiles & Avios points – how to get the most out of airline rewards cards
- No foreign transaction fee credit cards – what you need to know about spending on your card overseas
- Get the best euro exchange rate on a credit card – What’s the best way to spend as you travel around Europe? Take the euros as cash or spend on a travel credit card?