If you're going abroad, or spending on foreign websites, getting the right plastic could save you a small fortune. Pick up a specialist travel credit or pre-pay card and enjoy piece of mind knowing that you're getting the best exchange rate possible for any currency in the world. Here's our guide to the best credit card, debit, and pre-pay cards for travel
We've spoken about travel credit cards before, but the industry moves fast, and many of the current crop of cards only launched in the past year or two. While the Halifax Clarity, still remains the best traditional credit card for foreign spending, the Creation Everyday Credit Card is equally as good.
Of course not everyone can get a specialist credit card. So we've also rounded up a few of the top debit and pre-pay cards for travel and foreign spending. Jump to pre-paid and other cards
The best credit cards for travel
Still one of the best around
A top pick for years, the Halifax Clarity is probably the most well known specialist travel credit card. There's no commission nor fees for spending or cash withdrawals. What's more, you get the Mastercard Wholesale exchange rate, which tends to be ever-so-slightly better than VISA's rates.
The Card does charge interest on cash withdrawn abroad at 18.9% (21.9%-25.9% for poorer credit scorers), but this amounts to just £1.50 per £100 spent. This is only charged until you've repaid the balance, so you can minimise this paying it off as you go along.
Interest isn't charged on point of sale purchases abroad provided you clear the balance by the end of the statement date.
18.9% APR Representative (variable). Based on an assumed credit limit of £1,200 and a purchase rate of 18.9% p.a. (variable)
Creation Everyday Credit Card
The absolute cheapest credit card for overseas spending
The Creation Everyday card is another Mastercard with zero fees on foreign spending or withdrawals. Its low 12.9% interest rate on cash withdrawals actually makes it cheaper (by 50p per £100 spent) than the Halifax Clarity, which is good going. On your statement you'll initially see a foreign exchange fee, but it gets refund automatically. Since this might confuse some, we've listed this card just below the Clarity, for its…erm… lack of clarity.
Like the Clarity, you can minimise the interest charged on cash withdrawals by paying the money back as soon as you can. Similarly, there is no interest charged on foreign purchases provided you clear the balance by the statement date.
Again, those with a slightly poorer credit score will likely be offered a higher APR of between 17.9%-21.9%
12.9% APR Representative (variable). Based on an assumed credit limit of £1,200 and a purchase rate of 12.9% p.a. (variable)
The top debit and pre-pay cards for foreign travel
The rise of the mobile-first challenger bank could spell the end for pre-pay cards as free currency withdrawals and foreign spending become the norm. At Money Saving Answers we're championing Starling Bank as the best companion card for foreign travel. Check out the video below by broadcast journalist and travel vlogger/blogger, Pommie Travels.
Starling really stole a march on the competition by being the first challenger bank to launch its current account nationwide, and continues to impress with its well developed app and current account features. What's more, is the company is committed to fee-less foreign currency. Here's what it says:
When we say zero fees, we mean exactly that.
We won’t charge you to use your debit card abroad – and we won’t add ATM fees. Just so you’re aware: some ATM providers may charge their own fee.
Great exchange rates.
You’ll benefit from Mastercard’s globally accepted exchange rate…and no, we won’t add anything on top.
You shouldn’t have to pay to access your money.
Unlike some other travel cards, we don’t charge you to deliver your card or to top it up.
Another great feature of the Starling account is that it fully integrates with Moneybox, meaning you can save whilst you travel, by rounding up transactions in realtime and setting the sum aside for transfer via direct debit to one of the Moneybox investments.
Sounds great to us, and it's not put a foot wrong in our tests. The Starling app is available on Android and iOS, but to find out more visit starlingbank.com
Monzo – The digital bank solution
With the impending launch of it's current account, Monzo has now closed its prepay card trial. Previously it was considered the best pre-pay option, but the bank has now taken the decision to start charging for foreign ATM withdrawals. While point of sale use will still be free, we can no longer recommend Monzo for use as a main travel card, but it would make a good back up.
Revolut – The next generation pre-pay travel card
The Revolut card is a mobile app based account, that came hot on the heals of the ill-fated Travelex Supercard. At its was slicker and more user friendly than the competition, and is still adding new features and functionality. You can use the Revolut account to pay for online purchases without the actual card, but if you want to withdraw cash from an ATM or pay at POS terminals, you'll need to order a physical card via the app. The card is free, and should show up within 5-10 days.
Like traditional pre-pay cards the Revolut account first needs loading with currency. You can do this via ApplePay which is handy. Loading is done in pounds, dollars, and euros and you are able to convert between the three instantly from within the app. Spending is not limited to these currencies though. All in all there are 90 currencies you can spend in, and receive the Mastercard exchange rate.
Speaking of rates, when using the card on a recent trip to Ireland, I noticed that the exchange rate listed in the Revolut app, was actually better than those shown on XE.com. Additionally, Revolut is one of the few accounts that continued to allow its customers to trade during the volatility and currency fluctuations caused by the Brexit vote.
ATM fees kick in
It almost sounds too good to be true right?
Revolut changed its terms and conditions recently, and now only allows £200 per month free from ATM, and charges a 2% fee for any withdrawals over that. that's £20 per every £1000 withdrawn over and above the first £200. It's still a great card, but due to the change we now recommend Starling linked to above.
Tide – the best small business account for foreign spending
If you run a small business and regularly need to travel abroad, or pay for goods and services in a foreign currency, then Tide might be worth considering.
Tide is a new mobile-first account aimed at small business, freelancers, contractors and other self-employed professionals. Although not specifically a currency card (it is a fully fledged account in its own right), Tide, is following the ‘challenger' norm and does not charge commission, fees, or loading on foreign purchases, and users benefit from the MasterCard exchange rate.