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Why you should use travel/foreign money credit cards rather than your bank cards

The best credit cards to use while abroad

The best credit cards to use while abroad

Travelling abroad is now more common than at any time in the past. Many families plan for their overseas holidays for the better part of the year, and some families even make more than one trip, preferring to introduce children to a foreign lifestyle while they are still young. With foreign travel being so popular, it would seem as though the financial sector would have caught up with this fashion and become more flexible where credit and debit cards are concerned. However, this is not the case at all, and some of the largest banks in the UK are the worst for charging extortionate fees for using your cards when you are travelling. Lloyds, for example, charges a £1 spending fee each time you buy something abroad, plus a £2 penalty for withdrawing cash abroad. This can quickly become very expensive, and has meant that some lenders are now offering their customers the chance to take out a travel credit card, offering better rates for using the card abroad.

 

Why take a card instead of money?

Why not use cash?

Why not use cash?

In the past, if you wanted to spend money overseas, you took foreign currency with you, bringing it into the country where you intended to stay. This is still a popular choice, but there are some problems with this choice, the major issue being that money runs out, can be mislaid or stolen, and is difficult to carry around when you are shopping or going to the beach. Most travellers these days prefer not to carry money, as it can be very risky. Instead, they choose to take their credit cards on holiday, taking out money when they need it, and only carrying what they will need for the day. In these cases, travel credit cards can be very useful.

 

What are the best travel credit cards

There are few travel credit cards to choose from, particularly from the major banks. The best one currently available is the Halifax Clarity, which charges no load fee, and no fee for cash withdrawal. They charge around 13% until the withdrawal is paid, at an average of £1 for each £100 withdrawn anywhere in the world. You get no interest charges on purchases abroad as long as it is paid in full by the required date. There is also no foreign exchange fee for the card, so you can get what you need when you need it without having to work out exchange rates. You may have to have a very good credit rating to get this award, however, so you may prefer to apply with other lenders first.

Aqua reward credit card is another good card for using online. Again, there are no load fees, and you can get 0.5% cash back if you spend money either in the UK, or abroad, making this the perfect card for taking on holiday. The card is also suitable for those with a poor credit score, and even if you have CCJs or bankruptcy rulings (more than 18 months in the past) you may be eligible for a card. However, there is a low spending limit, and a very high interest rate of 34.9%. In addition, cash withdrawal fees are high, and most experts recommend only using the card for purchasing items, and never for withdrawing money. If you stick to this scheme, you should be able to benefit from the Aqua card.

Saga also offer a reasonable travel credit card, with similar no withdrawal fees, and an APR of 11.9%. However, you may not be eligible for this card unless you are a member of the Saga community. The Post Office can also offer a good deal on their travel card, with no loading fees, a low rate of ATM charges, and 17.8% APR.

 

What are the alternatives to travel credit cards?

Pre-paid travel cards are being more popular

Pre-paid travel cards are being more popular

If you are worried about the risks of using a travel credit card, particularly with the high rates of interest on any withdrawals, you may want to consider the alternatives. Perhaps the best solution to the problem of taking a card abroad is to use a pre-paid travel card. These work by having money loaded onto your card, and offering no credit at all. You can only spend what is on the card. There are often ATM withdrawal fees, and occasionally an annual charge, but the rates are much lower than with the traditional credit card, and if you happen to lose the card, or it is stolen, it cannot be used to access your bank account, or to gain a line of credit.

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