How do you bank when you’re abroad? If you’re anything like me, trying to figure out overseas card fees and exchange rates makes your head spin. If you don’t take the time to research the best credit and debit card for travel though, you’ll end up losing hundreds of pounds in fees. Luckily, we’ve done the hard work for you with this guide to the best debit and credit cards for travellers.
You can read our original posts comparing the best travel credit and debit cards from 2013 here:
Here’s an update on which cards we now use for travel in 2017.
What’s the best debit card for travel?
We’ve been using our Norwich and Peterborough debit card since we left the UK in 2013 and it has saved us hundreds of pounds in fees. N&P has zero cash withdrawal, purchase and handling fees abroad, yet sadly they’re closing their current accounts this year so we have to search for a new travel debit card. Unfortunately, all the major banks we checked in the UK charged whopping fees abroad, but we did find a new app-based bank, Starling, which fit the bill.
Starling has zero fees for cash withdrawals and transactions anywhere in the world and it uses MasterCard’s exchange rate. Unlike other current accounts, you don’t have to pay in a certain amount each month or set up direct debits either, and it has safe card-locking functions and in-app support. It was easy to download the Starling app on our iPhone and open an account, then we received our new card in the post. Easy!
I like the idea of having the app on our phone and getting notifications stating what exchange rate we’ve been charged every time we make a transaction. We’ll start experimenting with our Starling account when we begin our Europe road trip this autumn and we’ll update this post to let you know how it goes.
Top travel credit cards
If you’re from the USA, you can find some great travel reward credit cards. This means that every time you use your credit card you can earn air miles or points to use for hotel stays, for example. Effectify.com lets you compare the best credit cards for rewards online, these cards usually offer additional perks such as price protection and warranty programs too.
Being from the UK, we don’t have such great options and many credit cards charge hefty fees for using them abroad. The best travel credit card option in the UK is the Halifax Clarity card which offers zero cash withdrawal and purchase fees abroad. However, the interest rate for overseas cash withdrawals ranges from 12.8% APR, so we avoid using ATMs with it.
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Which credit and debit card do you use when you travel?