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How to find the best card for travel abroad

Your credit card can see a lot of use travelling abroad – with some hotels insisting on a credit card to make a booking.

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How to get the best exchange rate? Credit cards vs cash
How to get the best exchange rate? Credit cards vs cash

Credit cards are convenient for making travel arrangements, and can also allow you a little more spending leeway when you are on holiday if you see something you really want to buy or do.

Compare travel credit cards

Compare some of the best credit cards for overseas travel.

Additionally, they are a lot less hassle than carrying cash — you don't have to worry about currency conversions, and if your card is lost or stolen you can cancel it and order a new one, something you definitely can't do with hard currency.

Credit cards are widely accepted all over the world, and in most countries you will have no problems using yours. They are also, of course, accepted by airlines, hotels and tour operators when you are booking your trip.

The only downside to using your credit card when you travel internationally is that if you don't choose your card wisely, you could end up subject to some significant fees.

Fees for using your card abroad

Many standard credit cards add a percentage fee for any transactions you make while you are in another country. This fee varies, but it is not rare to see lenders charge 3% on each transaction.

This may not seem like a lot on small purchases like lunch somewhere or a souvenir, but if you start to think in terms of the bigger costs on holiday, like your hotel or car hire, it can soon mount up.

Additionally, some lenders also charge you this kind of fee when you make any transaction in a foreign currency, even if you are at home, so if you buy things online from abroad and pay in euros or dollars (for example) you may start to incur charges like these from your living room.

If you are a regular traveller, are going on a long trip abroad, or are planning a special holiday where you are expecting to spend a lot, it is worth getting hold of a travel credit card that does not charge these types of fees.

There are cards available that charge 0% for using your card abroad or in other currencies, so these are the ones you'll want to consider packing.

Withdrawing cash with your credit card abroad

A standard credit card will almost always charge fees for making ATM withdrawals abroad (on top of any fees the card already gives you for cash withdrawals — which typically come with a higher rate of interest).

A rate of around 2.5% on top of your cash machine withdrawals overseas is fairly typical, even on some cards that don't charge for foreign transactions.

Some specialist credit cards won't charge you a fee for cash withdrawals abroad, but you will be charged interest from the day you withdraw the cash.

It is up to you to decide whether you are happy to pay these charges or would prefer to get your cash out with a debit card, or take local currency with you.

But, it is worth being aware of the fees associated with the card you are using before you take out money so there are no surprises when you see your credit card statement.

Using a credit card abroad can be extremely convenient and allow you a lot more flexibility, whether you are a holidaymaker or regular business traveller.

However, if you want to get the best value, look out for cards designed for people who travel, which won't charge extra every time you make a transaction overseas or in a foreign currency.

Compare travel credit cards

Compare some of the best credit cards for overseas travel.