Best debit and credit cards to use while travelling abroad

If you’re going on holiday or travel abroad regularly, it’s worth knowing what the best card is to avoid hefty fees. We weigh up the charges and any perks like cashback to reveal the best credit and debit cards for spending abroad.

Person holding credit cards with suitcase in the background
(Image credit: © Getty images)

Summer has started, and those of us who haven't booked a trip away may be thinking of doing so. Data shows that despite high inflation, households are not giving up on a getaway, with some travel stocks performing well as consumers book getaways. 

If you're budgeting, you should go beyond the cost of the holiday and also think about how you are going to spend your money and pay for things on your trip. The wrong card could see you stung by almost 5% in fees and charges, which can add up to hundreds of pounds for a big family holiday abroad. This can really dent your holiday budget.

But you can avoid these charges by using a debit or credit card that comes with zero fees. Often, you will also benefit from a competitive exchange rate, meaning your money will go further. Some will even give you cashback whenever you spend on the card.

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We list the best credit or debit cards to pack when going on holiday.

Best credit cards to use when travelling

If you are using a credit card, make sure you are in a position to pay off your bill in full at the end of each month, otherwise interest charges will cancel out the benefits. If you are applying for a credit card, always go through an eligibility checker, like the one from our sister site Go.Compare, to see what you can get. 

Barclaycard Rewards Visa 

  • No fees on spending or ATM withdrawals abroad
  • 0.25% cashback on purchases
  • No interest on cash withdrawals if paid in full
  • Protection on purchases over £100
  • Representative APR - 25.9%

Halifax Clarity Mastercard 

  • No fees on spending or ATM withdrawals abroad
  • Purchases over £100 and up to £30,000 are covered by section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act
  • Interest on cash withdrawals ranges between 22.94% and 28.94%, charged per day until paid off
  • Representative APR of 22.9%

NatWest Credit Card Mastercard 

  • No foreign transaction fees
  • 3% fee on ATM withdrawals
  • Representative APR of 12.9%
  • Note: Interest on cash withdrawals ranges between 26.9% to 29.9%, charged daily until paid off

Virgin Money Travel Credit Card 

  • No fees on overseas spending
  • 3% fee on ATM withdrawals
  • 23.9% representative APR (first 9 months at 0%)
  • 28.9% interest on cash withdrawals, charged daily until paid off

Best debit cards to use while abroad

Most banks and building societies will slap on around 3% to your transactions made abroad when you use your debit card - rising to almost 5% for ATM withdrawals. So, it makes sense to either open another current account with a travel-friendly debit card, or take out a travel credit card (see above). 

You can also get a travel debit card that connects to your usual current account (see below), meaning you don’t need to open another current account.

Here are the banks that do not charge fees when using your debit card abroad. Although it is worth noting that ATM withdrawal fees may still incur a fee, often set by the ATM provider.

Chase Bank

  • No fees on spending or cash withdrawals at home or abroad
  • 1% cashback on your spending for 12 months
  • Note you can only manage this account in-app
  • Maximum £1,500 ATM limit while abroad, per calendar month

First Direct

  • No fees on purchases made abroad
  • Fee-free ATM withdrawals abroad, up to £500 a day
  • £175 switching bonus if you open the current account, and access to 7% regular saver account

Starling Bank 

  • No fees on spending or cash withdrawals at home or abroad
  • Manage in-app and online
  • Maximum £300 ATM limit while abroad

Virgin Money 

  • Fee-free spending
  • Cash withdrawals in the EEA are fee-free if you use Monzo as your main bank account, otherwise you pay 3% on withdrawals over £250 every 30 days
  • Make cash withdrawals outside of the EEA of up to £200 every 30 days for free, anything over that incurs a 3% charge.


  • Currensea debit card links to your existing current account, so offers a good alternative if you don’t want to switch banks
  • No fees on spending or ATM withdrawals
  • Maximum ATM limit of £500 per month

We also list the best credit cards for cashback if you want to make the most of your purchases at home. 

Nicole García Mérida

Nic studied for a BA in journalism at Cardiff University, and has an MA in magazine journalism from City University. She joined MoneyWeek in 2019.

With contributions from