top specialist travel credit cards
Only do this if you will always repay IN FULL to minimise interest on spending
Top Overseas Spending Card: Halifax Clarity*
This credit card gives near-perfect exchange rates as there's no foreign exchange fee. It's our top pick because it has no fee for ATM withdrawals either. Pay it off IN FULL and there's no interest on spending, but you will be charged interest (c. £1.50/mth per £100 withdrawn) on ATM withdrawals (not spending). Full info.
Representative APR: 18.9%
ATM Fee: Free
the five golden rules
To make this work, you need to know what you're doing
you get the best rates, every time, anywhere
Most debit and credit cards add a 3% non-sterling transaction fee, so spend £100 of euros and it costs £103. Yet specialist cards donít charge this fee, meaning £100 costs £100 in every currency. This smashes owt else, including top bureaux de change.
always repay in full so there's no interest
To make this work, set up a direct debit to pay in full, or the interest cost dwarfs any gain you get from the better rate. This is only on spending, not cash withdrawals, see next point.
there are fees for cash withdrawals, but it's still cheap
Ideally, pay off your card as soon as you get home. This is because even if you do fully repay, there are cash withdrawal charges incl. interest from the day you take cash out until you repay. So the quicker you pay it, the less interest you're charged. Yet generally even with this they still beat bureaux de change.
find out if you're likely to be accepted
You need to pass a credit check to get one of these cards. To find out which you're most likely to get without the application leaving a footprint on your credit file use our Overseas Cards Eligibility Checker.
they take up to two weeks to arrive
These cards have to be sent to you and activated, so they're no good if you're going soon, but once you've got one you don't need to worry about cheap currency again. Too late to get one for this holiday? Get one for next time.
For more info & more card options (including debit cards) see Cheap Cards Abroad.
other top overseas cards
They have top exchange rates as they have no fees to exchange
Decent alternative to Halifax Clarity: Creation
The Creation Everyday card also has no ATM withdrawal fee, and similar ATM withdrawal interest as the Clarity. But it's a new card to us, so we don't have much feedback. Full info.
Rep APR: 18.9%
ATM Fee: Free
Lowest cash withdrawal interest: Barclaycard
The Barclaycard Platinum Travel card has no exchange or ATM fees and - unusually - doesn't charge interest on cash withdrawals paid IN FULL on or before your statement due date. Full info.
Rep APR: 19.9%
ATM Fee: Free
what about debit or prepaid cards?
Prepaid cards allow you to load them up before you go, and use them to spend or withdraw cash overseas. The best cards have good rates and low fees. It's also worth being aware that many prepaid cards give you the rate on the day you load it up, not when you spend, so there's some currency fluctuation risk. See prepaid card best buys.
The rate for the Halifax card is yesterday's Mastercard wholesale rate which Halifax uses Ė not a rate directly from Halifax itself.
We cannot be responsible for any discrepancies.