Five reasons to get a travel credit card

Anne East explores five key reasons why using a travel credit card when you go abroad can make your holiday go with even more of a swing.

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Rumour has it that the government is likely to scrap amber and green lists for travel. With that in mind, it could be time to pack your bags, jet off and find some sun (remember that). But before you do, it pays to be prepared. Here are five reasons why a travel credit card could be just the ticket.

1. Travel credit cards have no foreign transaction fee

One of the big benefits of a travel credit card is that you won’t be charged for using it abroad. Whereas regular credit cards will hit you with fees of up to 3% every time you flex your plastic in shops, bars and restaurants.

A few per cent here and there might not sound like much, but remember, you’ll be charged each time you use your card. After a two-week holiday, that can add up to a significant amount of money. And that’s money that you could have spent on cocktails and souvenirs.

2. It can be cheaper than withdrawing cash

Using a travel credit card could be more cost-effective than using cash, especially if you’re thinking about withdrawing money from an ATM whilst you’re abroad. Regardless of whether you use a debit or credit card, you can be charged up to 3% to take cash out of a machine.

Not only that, if you take out a cash advance using your credit card, you’ll pay interest on it straight away.

3. You could enjoy other benefits

As you might expect, travel credit cards often come with added holiday-related incentives. For instance, the Virgin Money Travel credit card offers discounts on Virgin holidays and cashback on travel insurance.

But not all travel credit cards are officially touted as such and lots of them are essentially regular credit cards with no foreign transaction fees. That means you can benefit from all sorts of other useful day-to-day perks. These can include 0% interest on the things you buy and 0% on balance transfers if you’re looking to switch to a better deal.

4. A travel credit card can be safer than cash

This one really applies to all credit cards and not just ones you can use without charge abroad. After all, carrying one credit card is a lot safer than carrying wads of cash. Plus, if the worst does happen and it’s lost or stolen, you can cancel the card with your provider.

5. Your purchases are protected under Section 75

Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act can help you get a refund if anything goes wrong with your purchase. For instance, if the seller goes bust, doesn’t deliver or if the product itself is faulty, you’re covered.

It only applies to purchases between £100 and £30,000. But if you’ve bought anything pricey (or used your card to buy the holiday), then it can come in very handy indeed.

Tips for using your travel credit card abroad

To make sure you get the most out of your credit card, here are some timeless tips that apply whether you use it at home or abroad.

  • Pay off the balance – this is the golden rule of credit cards. If you can, always pay off the balance. If not, always make sure you pay the minimum each month to avoid late fees.
  • Always pay in local currency – this ensures you get the very best rate of exchange.
  • Stick to your limit – holidays might be an opportunity to play fast and free, but that shouldn’t extend to your credit card. Going over your credit limit can leave you facing fees. Do it repeatedly, and your card provider could ask you to pay off all the balance or even take back your card. It can also affect your long-term credit rating.

To find the best travel card for you, take a look at our top picks.