The Best Travel Credit Cards

Updated: 4th December, 2019.

Most credit cards charge a fee of up to 3% when you swipe them while travelling abroad. That can really add up over the course of a holiday! To help you save money while abroad, we’ve assembled some of the best credit cards that don’t charge you extra when you’re travelling.

On this page, you’ll find our top travel cards along with more information about travel credit cards and how to choose the best one for your needs.

Credit card offers from our affiliate partners appear first and are ordered from highest rating to lowest, followed by other top-rated offers. You can read more about our ratings and page sort here. Offers from affiliate partners are marked with *

The fewer unnecessary fees you pay while on holiday, the more holidays you can afford. That’s why credit cards that don’t charge a foreign transaction fee are great while adventuring abroad. Here are MyWalletHero’s picks for the best travel credit cards:

Great for: Low APR and no foreign transaction fees
4 stars question mark
Apply Now!

On NatWest's Secure Website

* Affiliate partner

Where the NatWest Credit Card excels is being that solid, take-everywhere card. With a low standard APR and no foreign transaction fees, this card can find a place in many peoples’ wallets. However, if you’re looking for rewards, cashback or a sign-up bonus, you’ll have to look elsewhere.

Read full review >

CREDIT RATING req:

  • Poor/No credit
  • Fair/Average
  • Good/Excellent

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Low APR of 9.9% for qualified applicants
  • No fees on foreign transactions
  • No balance-transfer fees
  • Even lower balance-transfer rate of 6.9% for qualified applicants
  • No annual fee
  • To apply, you must be 18+, earning at least £10,000 per year and a UK resident

REPRESENTATIVE EXAMPLE

Purchase rate 9.9% p.a. (variable)
Representative APR 9.9% (variable)
Assumed credit limit £1,200
Annual fee £0

* This is an offer from one of our affiliate partners. Click here to learn more about why and how we work with partners.

what we like

  • Low standard APR
  • No foreign-transaction fees
  • No balance-transfer fees
  • ANNUAL FEE:

    £0
  • REPRESENTATIVE APR:

    9.9%
  • INTRO OFFER:

    N/A

KEY SCORES:

  • 1/5 Perks
  • 5/5Fees
  • 5/5APR

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Low APR of 9.9% for qualified applicants
  • No fees on foreign transactions
  • No balance-transfer fees
  • Even lower balance-transfer rate of 6.9% for qualified applicants
  • No annual fee
  • To apply, you must be 18+, earning at least £10,000 per year and a UK resident

REPRESENTATIVE EXAMPLE

Purchase rate 9.9% p.a. (variable)
Representative APR 9.9% (variable)
Assumed credit limit £1,200
Annual fee £0

* This is an offer from one of our affiliate partners. Click here to learn more about why and how we work with partners.

Great for: Low APR and no foreign transaction fees
4 stars question mark
Apply Now!

On Royal Bank of Scotland's Secure Website

* Affiliate partner

The Royal Bank Credit Card loses some ratings points because of what’s not there — rewards, 0% offers, etc. But thanks to the low standard APR and no foreign transaction fees, this is still a very solid card, especially for travelers.

Read full review >

CREDIT RATING req:

  • Poor/No credit
  • Fair/Average
  • Good/Excellent

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Low APR of 9.9% for qualified applicants
  • No fees on foreign transactions
  • No balance transfer fees
  • Even lower balance transfer rate of 6.9% for qualified applicants
  • No annual fee
  • To apply, you must be 18+, earning at least £10,000 per year and a UK resident

REPRESENTATIVE EXAMPLE

Purchase rate 9.9% p.a. (variable)
Representative APR 9.9% (variable)
Assumed credit limit £1,200
Annual fee £0

* This is an offer from one of our affiliate partners. Click here to learn more about why and how we work with partners.

what we like

  • Low standard APR
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • No balance transfer fees
  • ANNUAL FEE:

    £0
  • REPRESENTATIVE APR:

    9.9%
  • INTRO OFFER:

    N/A

KEY SCORES:

  • 1/5 Perks
  • 5/5Fees
  • 5/5APR

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Low APR of 9.9% for qualified applicants
  • No fees on foreign transactions
  • No balance transfer fees
  • Even lower balance transfer rate of 6.9% for qualified applicants
  • No annual fee
  • To apply, you must be 18+, earning at least £10,000 per year and a UK resident

REPRESENTATIVE EXAMPLE

Purchase rate 9.9% p.a. (variable)
Representative APR 9.9% (variable)
Assumed credit limit £1,200
Annual fee £0

* This is an offer from one of our affiliate partners. Click here to learn more about why and how we work with partners.

Great for: No foreign transaction fees plus 0% interest offers
5 stars question mark
Virgin Money Credit Card

This card charges no fees for overseas use, so making spending abroad more affordable, plus it offers 12-month interest-free introductory periods for purchases and balance transfers, so that you can pay for your holiday in the first place. Add to that travel discounts for Virgin Holidays and the offer of cashback on travel insurance, and you have a good all-round travel package.

Read full review >

CREDIT RATING req:

  • Poor/No credit
  • Fair/Average
  • Good/Excellent

HIGHLIGHTS

  • No foreign transaction fees
  • 0% interest for 12 months on purchases
  • 0% interest for 12 months on balance transfers

REPRESENTATIVE EXAMPLE

Representative rate 21.9% APR (variable)
Purchase rate 21.9% p.a. (variable)
Based on borrowing £1,200

what we like

  • No foreign transaction fees
  • 0% interest for 12 months on purchases
  • 0% interest for 12 months on balance transfers
  • ANNUAL FEE:

    £0
  • REPRESENTATIVE APR:

    21.9%
  • INTRO OFFER:

    12 months 0% interest on balance transfers and purchases

KEY SCORES:

  • 4/5 Perks
  • 5/5Fees
  • 3/5APR

HIGHLIGHTS

  • No foreign transaction fees
  • 0% interest for 12 months on purchases
  • 0% interest for 12 months on balance transfers

REPRESENTATIVE EXAMPLE

Representative rate 21.9% APR (variable)
Purchase rate 21.9% p.a. (variable)
Based on borrowing £1,200
Great for: 0% interest for Nationwide customers
4.5 stars question mark

If you are looking for a credit card that offers a wide range of features, the Nationwide Select Credit Card is likely to be appealing. It has a 12-month introductory 0% interest rate on purchases and balance transfers, as well as no balance transfer fee. Although there are longer 0% interest rate periods available elsewhere, the card’s lack of foreign exchange fees could help it stand out from its rivals. Note though that it is only available to existing customers of Nationwide who have their main current account with the provider.

Read full review >

CREDIT RATING req:

  • Poor/No credit
  • Fair/Average
  • Good/Excellent

HIGHLIGHTS

  • 0% interest for 12 months on purchases
  • 0% interest for 12 months on balance transfers
  • No balance transfer fee
  • No annual fee
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Note: This card is only available to Nationwide current account customers (see issuer for full details)

REPRESENTATIVE EXAMPLE

Representative rate 15.9% APR (variable)
Purchase rate 15.9% p.a. (variable)
Based on borrowing £1,200

what we like

  • 0% interest for 12 months on purchases
  • 0% interest for 12 months on balance transfers
  • No balance transfer fee
  • ANNUAL FEE:

    £0
  • REPRESENTATIVE APR:

    15.9%
  • INTRO OFFER:

    0% interest for 12 months on purchases
    0% interest for 12 months on balance transfers

KEY SCORES:

  • 3/5 Perks
  • 3/5Fees
  • 5/5APR

HIGHLIGHTS

  • 0% interest for 12 months on purchases
  • 0% interest for 12 months on balance transfers
  • No balance transfer fee
  • No annual fee
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Note: This card is only available to Nationwide current account customers (see issuer for full details)

REPRESENTATIVE EXAMPLE

Representative rate 15.9% APR (variable)
Purchase rate 15.9% p.a. (variable)
Based on borrowing £1,200
Great for: No fees for spending abroad plus an attractive APR
4 stars question mark

The Creation Everyday Credit Card has no foreign transaction fee, which makes it an attractive travel card. And since it lacks an annual fee, it could be a worthwhile travel companion, even for consumers who rarely make international trips. A lack of rewards and offers, though, limits the card’s wider appeal.

Read full review >

CREDIT RATING req:

  • Poor/No credit
  • Fair/Average
  • Good/Excellent

HIGHLIGHTS

  • No foreign transaction fees
  • No annual fee
  • Online banking to manage your account on the go

REPRESENTATIVE EXAMPLE

Representative rate 12.9% APR (variable)
Purchase rate 12.9% p.a. (variable)
Based on borrowing £1,200

what we like

  • No foreign transaction fees
  • No annual fee
  • Online banking to manage your account on the go
  • ANNUAL FEE:

    £0
  • REPRESENTATIVE APR:

    12.9%
  • INTRO OFFER:

    N/A

KEY SCORES:

  • 1/5 Perks
  • 5/5Fees
  • 5/5APR

HIGHLIGHTS

  • No foreign transaction fees
  • No annual fee
  • Online banking to manage your account on the go

REPRESENTATIVE EXAMPLE

Representative rate 12.9% APR (variable)
Purchase rate 12.9% p.a. (variable)
Based on borrowing £1,200
Great for: Travel and low standard interest rate
4 stars question mark

The B Credit Card has no foreign transaction fees or annual fee. This makes it a great potential travel companion, since non-sterling card fees can add up even for infrequent travellers. And while you’re better served paying down your credit card balance, this card also stands out for its low interest rate.

Read full review >

CREDIT RATING req:

  • Poor/No credit
  • Fair/Average
  • Good/Excellent

HIGHLIGHTS

  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Low 9.9% APR
  • Well-liked app for managing your spending
  • No annual fee
  • 0% balance transfer fee

REPRESENTATIVE EXAMPLE

Representative rate 9.9% APR (variable)
Purchase rate 9.9% p.a. (variable)
Based on borrowing £1,200

what we like

  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Low 9.9% APR
  • Well-liked app for managing your spending
  • ANNUAL FEE:

    £0
  • REPRESENTATIVE APR:

    9.9%
  • INTRO OFFER:

KEY SCORES:

  • 3/5 Perks
  • 5/5Fees
  • 5/5APR

HIGHLIGHTS

  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Low 9.9% APR
  • Well-liked app for managing your spending
  • No annual fee
  • 0% balance transfer fee

REPRESENTATIVE EXAMPLE

Representative rate 9.9% APR (variable)
Purchase rate 9.9% p.a. (variable)
Based on borrowing £1,200
Great for: Everyday cash back
4 stars question mark

With a 0.5% cashback yield and no annual fee, the Tandem Cashback Credit Card is a solid choice for those looking for cash rewards on their spending. The card lacks the sign-up bonus that some other cards have, but for those with good credit, the card sports a representative APR at the lower end of the range for the category. And there’s no annual fee to worry about.

Read full review >

CREDIT RATING req:

  • Poor/No credit
  • Fair/Average
  • Good/Excellent

HIGHLIGHTS

  • 0.5% cash back on all purchased above £1 worldwide
  • No annual fee
  • No fees on purchases made abroad

REPRESENTATIVE EXAMPLE

Annual purchase rate (variable) 18.9%
Representative APR (variable) 18.9%
Based on an assumed credit limit of £1,200

You may be offered a different credit limit or APR to that shown here as it depends on your individual circumstances. Subject to eligibility and credit assessment.

what we like

  • 0.5% cash back on all purchased above £1 worldwide
  • No annual fee
  • No fees on purchases made abroad
  • ANNUAL FEE:

    £0
  • REPRESENTATIVE APR:

    18.9%
  • INTRO OFFER:

    N/A

KEY SCORES:

  • 1/5 Perks
  • 5/5Fees
  • 5/5APR

HIGHLIGHTS

  • 0.5% cash back on all purchased above £1 worldwide
  • No annual fee
  • No fees on purchases made abroad

REPRESENTATIVE EXAMPLE

Annual purchase rate (variable) 18.9%
Representative APR (variable) 18.9%
Based on an assumed credit limit of £1,200

You may be offered a different credit limit or APR to that shown here as it depends on your individual circumstances. Subject to eligibility and credit assessment.

Great for: Avoiding fees while traveling
4 stars question mark

You can use the Santander Zero Credit Card abroad and not worry about being charged fees. It offers the double benefit of no foreign transaction fee and no cash withdrawal fee both in the UK and abroad, making holiday spending with the card easy and relaxed.

Read full review >

CREDIT RATING req:

  • Poor/No credit
  • Fair/Average
  • Good/Excellent

HIGHLIGHTS

  • No foreign transaction fees
  • No cash withdrawal fees
  • Up to 3 additional cardholders

REPRESENTATIVE EXAMPLE

Representative 18.9% APR (variable)
Purchase rate 18.9% p.a. (variable)
Assumed credit limit £1,200
Monthly fee £0

what we like

  • No foreign transaction fees
  • No cash withdrawal fees
  • Up to 3 additional cardholders
  • ANNUAL FEE:

    £0
  • REPRESENTATIVE APR:

    18.9%
  • INTRO OFFER:

    N/A

KEY SCORES:

  • 3/5 Perks
  • 5/5Fees
  • 4/5APR

HIGHLIGHTS

  • No foreign transaction fees
  • No cash withdrawal fees
  • Up to 3 additional cardholders

REPRESENTATIVE EXAMPLE

Representative 18.9% APR (variable)
Purchase rate 18.9% p.a. (variable)
Assumed credit limit £1,200
Monthly fee £0
Great for: Avoiding foreign transaction fees while traveling
3 stars question mark

The Halifax Clarity Credit Card makes an appealing travel card offering. It features no foreign transaction fees and no annual fee, which makes it a simple offering that’s easy on the wallet. Other credit cards, though, may be more suitable for day-to-day use since this card has no cashback, rewards or sign-up bonus.

Read full review >

CREDIT RATING req:

  • Poor/No credit
  • Fair/Average
  • Good/Excellent

HIGHLIGHTS

  • No foreign transaction fees
  • No annual fee
  • Mobile banking app to manage your account on the go

REPRESENTATIVE EXAMPLE

Representative rate 19.9% APR (variable)
Purchase rate 19.95% p.a. (variable)
Based on borrowing £1,200 over 12 months

what we like

  • No foreign transaction fees
  • No annual fee
  • Mobile banking app to manage your account on the go
  • ANNUAL FEE:

    £0
  • REPRESENTATIVE APR:

    19.9%
  • INTRO OFFER:

    N/A

KEY SCORES:

  • 1/5 Perks
  • 5/5Fees
  • 2.5/5APR

HIGHLIGHTS

  • No foreign transaction fees
  • No annual fee
  • Mobile banking app to manage your account on the go

REPRESENTATIVE EXAMPLE

Representative rate 19.9% APR (variable)
Purchase rate 19.95% p.a. (variable)
Based on borrowing £1,200 over 12 months

In this section:

About travel cards

Travel cards are credit cards that do not carry a fee for use abroad but operate as standard credit cards in the UK. The non-sterling transaction fee on most credit cards is somewhere between 2% and 3%. The main difference with a travel credit card is that they do not have that non-sterling transaction fee, which means you pay less while spending abroad. The same applies for any purchases you make online in a foreign currency: you would not incur a fee if you made these using a travel credit card with a 0% foreign transaction fee.

Some travel credit cards also have no fees for cash withdrawals made abroad. Typically, credit cards carry a charge for ATM withdrawals, which could be anything from 2.50% to 2.99%. Travel cards often waive the cash advance fee for withdrawals made outside the UK.

Some of our favourite travel credit cards are actually called ‘travel’ cards by the credit card issuer. However, not all of them are. In fact, some of our top picks for travel are not labelled ‘travel’ cards, but are simply great all-round type cards, that also have no non-sterling transaction fees.

How we picked the top travel cards for 2019

The main feature we looked for in our top travel-card picks was the absence of foreign transaction fees. If a card charges a non-sterling transaction fee, it won’t make our list.

Beyond that, we rate the cards based on a variety of factors to help MyWalletHero readers find the cards that offer the best overall package.

Here’s a look at some of the specific elements we considered:

  • Overseas usage fees – As mentioned, this is key for a travel credit card. If a credit card has a foreign transaction fee, it won’t appear on our list of the top travel cards.
  • Reward offers – Whether it’s rewards points or cashback, getting rewarded for spending at home and abroad is a nice plus in any credit card.
  • Travel discounts – Some travel cards offer discounts for travel-related spend, while a few offer deals when purchasing foreign currency.
  • Introductory 0% offers – These cards may not be focused on balance transfers or 0% purchases periods, but it doesn’t hurt to have that thrown in, right?
  • Standard APR – If you end up having to pay interest on a balance, a lower APR is naturally better.

Why you can trust us

The Motley Fool has been a trusted name in the UK for more than 20 years for helping people from all walks of life improve their financial lives. As a Motley Fool brand, MyWalletHero aims to extend The Motley Fool’s mission to help even more consumers all over the UK. We’ve analysed thousands of individual credit card data points to help our readers find the cards that will make their financial lives easier and more rewarding. When it comes to travel cards, our team has travelled all over the world, from Atlanta to Zagreb, and Tokyo to Tel Aviv. And on those travels we’ve paid with credit cards, cash, traveller’s cheques, debit cards, and in at least one case, barter.

Comparing travel credit cards

While we believe that our ratings will help lead most readers to the best options for travel credit cards, everyone’s situation is a bit different. That means it’s also important to know how to compare these cards on your own, so you can confirm that the card will fit your needs.

Here are a few things to consider when comparing travel credit cards:

  • Foreign transaction fees – Yes, we will keep bringing this up! The biggest difference with travel credit cards is that they don’t charge a foreign transaction fee. If you’re looking for a card for overseas travel, definitely confirm that it doesn’t have this fee. You can always find this information in the so-called ‘summary box’ for a credit card.
  • Annual fee – You probably shouldn’t pay an annual fee for a travel card. Our top picks for travel credit cards don’t have annual fees, and so you should be able to find a great travel card without needing to pay out of pocket for the privilege of keeping that card in your pocket. Another great thing about finding a travel card that doesn’t charge an annual fee is that it makes it reasonable to keep that card around for just when you’re travelling abroad.
  • Standard APR – Unless you have a 0% purchases offer, it’s almost always best to pay off your credit card in full every month. But in the case that you do have to carry a short-term balance, it’s nice to pay as low of an interest rate possible. APRs run the gamut with travel cards, from significantly below average to much higher than average.
  • Rewards, cashback and other perks – We’re going to lump this all together since this isn’t the focus of a travel credit card. But once you’ve (ideally) found a card that has no foreign transaction fees, charges no annual fee and has a reasonable APR, then you can narrow your choices down further by opting for a card that provides rewards on your spend, discounts on your travel or offers an introductory 0% interest period.
  • Required credit rating – No matter how great a travel card is, it’s of no use to you if you won’t qualify for it. If you have great credit, no need to worry! You should be able to qualify for most or all of our top picks. But if you’re still establishing your credit or rebuilding your credit, you may not be totally out of luck, as there are a few cards on our list that don’t charge foreign transaction fees and accept applicants with lower credit scores.

How does a travel card work?

A travel credit card works in much of the same way as a standard credit card. The main difference is that when you use the card abroad, you will not be charged a fee for doing so if you make purchases in the local currency. You will still be required to pay off your balance each month unless you have a travel credit card which also has a 0% interest on purchases offer.

An important thing to keep in mind is that some merchants abroad will give you the option of paying in local currency or your home currency. If you are paying with a travel credit card, you should choose to pay in the local currency. This is because your card will not charge you a fee for paying in the foreign currency, and the exchange rate that your issuer will use is almost always better than the exchange rate that will be applied by the merchant’s credit-card processor.

Whether you will be charged for ATM withdrawals abroad will depend on whether you have chosen a travel credit card with no cash advance fee on withdrawals made overseas. It is worth noting that even if the card doesn’t have a cash withdrawal fee, you will be charged interest at the card’s APR from the day you take cash out, much like with a standard credit card (which makes it a rather poor option). Also, while a card may not have a cash advance fee for withdrawals made abroad, it may still charge a fee for ATM withdrawals in the UK.

The benefits of a travel card

Whether you travel for business or are just looking for some R&R, using a credit card abroad can be a convenient way to manage your overseas spending. But what are the real benefits of choosing a travel credit card over a standard credit card?

  • No foreign transaction fees – This is the big winner with a travel credit card. It means that you can use your card abroad without any additional fees piling on. While 3% may not sound like much, when you do the math across all your spending while on holiday, it really adds up! With a travel card that doesn’t charge a non-sterling transaction fee, that money stays in your pocket.
  • Rewards when you spend – Some travel credit cards offer additional rewards such as cashback, travel discounts or vouchers based on your spending. Combine that with no foreign transactions fees, and you’re earning on your spend whether at home or overseas. Which isn’t the case when you’re paying with cash.
  • Preferable exchange rates – The exchange rates offered on travel credit cards are typically competitive, and almost always better than the rate that an overseas merchant or exchange office will offer.
  • Protected purchases – Using your credit card — whether travel or standard — to make purchases means that anything that costs between £100 and £30,000 is covered under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act. This means that if you don’t receive something, or the item is faulty, or the company you’ve bought from goes under, your credit card provider is jointly responsible with the retailer.
  • Fee-free cash withdrawals – To be clear, we generally don’t recommend getting cash advances from credit cards. That’s because you start getting charged interest as soon as you pull that cash out, and often face cash advance fees. But if you’re overseas and in a pinch, a travel card that doesn’t charge additional fees for withdrawing cash from an overseas ATM can take some of the sting out of grabbing some emergency cash.

What’s the catch?

While travel cards may seem like the most sensible option if you’re planning to go away, there are still things you should be aware of before you apply.

  • You may not be accepted – Not everyone is guaranteed to be accepted for a credit card, and travel cards typically require you to have a ‘good/excellent’ credit score. Also, if you already have a credit card and are applying for an additional card to use abroad, your application could potentially be rejected due to concerns over you having too many accounts.
  • High interest rates – Many travel credit cards have higher APRs. If you do not pay off your balance each month, you will incur interest charges, and the higher APRs could potentially erase any savings you’ve made with the fee-free card. Additionally, any cash withdrawals made abroad that sit on your balance will also be charged at the card’s cash advance APR, and will start accruing immediately. Of course, there’s no need to worry about this if you simply pay your balance in full every month.
  • Annual fees – We’ve tried to select cards that do not carry an annual fee. Some travel cards that offer higher travel rewards do, however, sometimes require you to pay an annual fee.
  • Sterling transactions – You may be charged fees by the retailer if you do not use the local currency when using your card abroad. If you were to make a sterling transaction with a foreign retailer, that retailer may charge you a transaction fee to cover the cost of converting sterling into the local currency. Therefore, be sure to always make purchases or withdrawals in the local currency.
  • Card acceptance – While Visa and Mastercard are widely accepted worldwide, there may be some places where cards in your card network will not be accepted and therefore your card won’t work. It is best to have some sort of backup when travelling, so in addition to your travel credit card carry some cash in the local currency, traveller’s cheques or a debit card.

What rewards can I get?

The rewards depend entirely on the card you select. Some travel credit cards offer nothing beyond having no foreign transaction fees, but several cards on the market offer something for your spending.

  • Cashback cards – These cards offer you cashback as a percentage of how much you spend. For example, a card might offer 0.5% cashback on your spending. Therefore, if you were to spend £100, you would earn yourself 50p in cashback. The thing to check with travel cards that offer cashback is whether there is a cap on how much cashback you can earn over a period of time.
  • Reward cards – These cards offer you reward points for your spending. In the travel market, one of the biggest reward schemes is Avios. This is a reward point scheme in which users can earn Avios points from their spending and convert them into paying for flights with a range of airlines. With schemes such as this, just be aware of any spending requirements in order to earn the points and whether the card carries an annual fee.
  • Travel discounts – Some travel cards offer travel discounts as part of their package. This could be anything from discounts on holidays with a specific travel operator to money off travel insurance policies. It is worth visiting the website of the travel card you are interested in to see the details of discounts on offer.

Should I get a travel card?

A travel credit card can be a good option for spending abroad, but is not for everyone. Here are three things you should ask yourself if you are undecided about getting a travel credit card:

  • Do you travel abroad at least once a year? If you travel abroad at least once per year, you’ll get the most use out of a travel card. If you don’t travel abroad very often, you won’t benefit from features such as no foreign transaction fees. If you seldom travel overseas, then another type of credit card would likely be more suited to your needs.
  • Is your credit score good or excellent? As mentioned above, there is no guarantee that you will be accepted for the card you want. Most travel cards require applicants to have a ‘good/excellent’ credit score. All our reviews have guidance on what level of credit score is required for each card. If you don’t know your credit score, you can find it out using free services such as Noddle or Experian.
  • Do you pay your credit card bill in full? Something to bear in mind with travel cards is that they typically don’t offer any introductory 0% interest period on purchases. Therefore, any purchases you make will be subject to interest charges if you don’t pay off your bill in full. (Credit cards typically allow 56 days’ interest free on new purchases if you pay your monthly minimum payment, which also applies to purchases made abroad, but you need to check the details for your selected card.) Similarly, any cash withdrawals made abroad will be subject to interest charges, so make sure that you can pay off whatever you put onto your card. This is important to consider before taking out any credit card, but it equally applies to travel cards.

If a travel credit card doesn’t seem the right fit for you, then consider the other options available. For example, prepaid travel cards are great if you prefer to set aside a spending budget before you go away – you can load the card with this before you travel.

FAQs about travel credit cards

Does my credit card give me travel insurance?

It might! It’s best to check with your issuer for full details. They’ll be able to not only tell you if your card offers travel insurance, but also how you can access it. In many cases, even if your card offers it, you may need to enrol in the programme to activate the coverage.

Do I need to notify my credit card issuer when travelling abroad?

This used to be an easy ‘yes’. Credit card issuers would watch your card for unusual purchases and block your card if one popped up. That could cause a lot of inconvenience if travelling abroad, so the best practice was to call your issuer prior to heading overseas on holiday or business. That’s changing thanks to smarter algorithms that credit card companies are using. However, it doesn’t hurt to ring your issuer prior to departing. If they tell you that it’s not necessary, you can note that for the future.

Can I buy travel money with my credit card?

You almost always can pay for travel money with your credit card. But in many cases, you’re better off not doing that. Most credit cards will treat a purchase of travel money just like a cash advance. That means that you’ll pay a fee and will be charged interest starting from the day of the transaction. There are, however, a select few issuers that don’t charge extra fees for buying travel money, and may even provide attractive rates. So check on the details of the specific card before swiping it for that foreign currency.

How can you keep your credit card safe while travelling?

Keeping your credit card in a safe place on your person is probably the best that you can do. While you don’t want to make it easy for someone to snatch it, you do need it easy enough to access so that you can actually use it. Don’t forget to pick up your card after paying for a meal, and don’t let your card out of your sight while it’s being used to transact. It’s also a good idea to keep the contact numbers for your credit card issuer in a safe place separate from your card. This way, if your card is lost or stolen, you can quickly contact your issuer to let them know, so they can block it from unauthorised transactions.

Which credit card is best for European travel?

If you’re heading to Europe in particular, any of the top travel credit cards should serve your needs. Most of Europe uses the Euro, and a credit card that does not charge foreign transaction fees should work perfectly well for paying in Euro for shopping or dining. Of course, it’s worth remembering that acceptance of credit cards is not as broad in all countries as it is in the UK. Germany is a good example, where many small shops don’t accept card payment.

Learn more

More ways to compare credit cards

Top credit card picks by category

Top credit card picks by issuer


The Motley Fool receives compensation from some advertisers who provide products and services that may be covered by our editorial team. It’s one way we make money. But know that our editorial integrity and transparency matters most and our ratings aren’t influenced by compensation. The statements above are The Motley Fool’s alone and have not been provided or endorsed by bank advertisers. The Motley Fool has recommended shares in Lloyds, Tesco and Barclays.

Advertiser Disclosure