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Looking for an easy travel card? Maybe it’s your mobile

Travel credit cards can make spending when abroad easy. Rather than carrying cash or trying to convert your pounds into the local currency, taking a credit card abroad with no foreign transaction fees can eliminate the stress and lets you put your holiday spending on plastic.

But what if there were a way to make this even simpler? UK fintech company Jaja has done just this, gearing up to launch a ‘mobile-first’ credit card with no foreign exchange fees. Yep, with this card you would only need your mobile before jetting off to distant shores.

How does a ‘mobile-first’ credit card work?

In the case of Jaja, you can apply for the card using your mobile phone, scanning your driving licence or passport in order to (hopefully) get approved instantly.

Then you are all set: with a digital copy of your credit card on your mobile phone, you don’t even need to wait until your physical card arrives before you can start using it. With the rise of contactless payments, and if all you are making is purchases under £30, then with your mobile in your pocket you are good to go.

Is it really any different to a standard credit card?

New entrants to the market are trying to shake up the way consumers use their credit cards, and going down the in-app mobile route is one way of doing this. Jaja, Tandem and the newly launched Curve are taking this approach, with apps that manage either your credit card, all your bank accounts or all your credit accounts in one place.

What is also interesting is that the new entrants are offering competitive deals, particularly in relationship to foreign exchange fees. Both Jaja and Tandem have credit cards with no fees on purchases abroad, making their offers that much more attractive if you want an innovative travel credit card. Meanwhile, Tandem also offers 0.5% cashback on its Cashback card and Jaja is offering early adopters £10 cashback when they successfully apply and £10 cashback for referring the card to a friend or family member.


If you like to use your mobile phone for financial transactions, then a ‘mobile-first’ card could fit with your existing financial habits. The real benefit is instant issuing, meaning you don’t have to wait to access your credit. However, do look at what the card has in terms of offers and try not to be dazzled by the slick and forward thinking technology.

If you are after a travel credit card, then the main thing to look at is whether the card has a fee attached to foreign transactions. If it doesn’t, then anything else is a bonus.

In-app credit cards and mobile management can definitely help you keep your finances under control, with features such as notifications and real-time transactions, but look at APRs and introductory offers in order to have a fair comparison with other credit cards.

As to whether mobile-first credit cards will take off, we’ll have to wait and see. Most credit cards already allow you to manage your account through some sort of mobile app, so really it is whether there is a demand for consumers to have a digital version of their card alongside a physical version. While some people may think it’s pretty handy to have everything on their mobile, there will always be traditionalists who prefer to keep things as they are. The question is, which camp do you fall into?

After a travel credit card? Take a look at our top picks for cards with no fees for foreign transaction fees

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