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Top five credit cards to use abroad

30th March 2015 Print

With Easter and summer holidays fast approaching, David Mann, money expert at shares his tips on the best five credit cards to make the most of your money when not only booking travel, but also when travelling:

Nationwide Select Credit Card

The top choice is from Nationwide – it does not charge any fees for transactions or overseas usage, and comes with 15 months of 0% on purchases. It also offers the lowest APR and no annual fee. The one snag is that you have to be an existing Nationwide customer – but this is no bad thing as the Nationwide FlexDirect account offers an inflation-busting 5% interest on balances and a 12-month fee-free overdraft.  

Post Office Platinum MasterCard

The Post Office Platinum MasterCard is a strong option for those who either don't have, or don't want to open a Nationwide account. It also offers no mark-up on foreign currency transactions worldwide. For anyone not wanting different cards for home and away, this also offers 0% on balance transfers for 18 months with a reasonable 0.79% transfer fee. However, it won't give you an introductory interest free period on purchases and it has a slightly higher APR (17.8%) if you can't clear your balance.

Lloyds Bank Avios Rewards Card

The Lloyds Bank Avios Rewards Card is a great option for those who travel regularly. It’s a scheme with two separate cards, one MasterCard and one American Express. Both cards allow you to collect Avios points to spend on flights and hotels. The Amex card allows you to collect Avios points faster and you have the MasterCard as back-up for when they don’t accept Amex. There are no foreign transaction fees and you will earn double Avios points in your first six months. However there is a £24 monthly fee and a higher representative APR of 23.7% APR (variable) to consider.

aqua Reward MasterCard

The aqua Reward MasterCard is a strong choice for those who are looking to improve their credit rating. It starts with a credit limit of £250, going up to £1200, which can be increased further after the fourth statement. The card allows you to earn 0.5% cashback on all purchases and you won’t be charged a foreign currency transaction fee. However, this card does have a high APR of 34.9% so be careful to pay off your balance in full each month.

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold Card

The American Express Preferred Rewards Gold Card can be a great card as long as it's used in the right away. Crucially it's a charge card, so you have to clear the balance each month, but if you can do this, there are some great perks. The insurance cover includes accident insurance and travel inconvenience insurance for things like trip cancellations, delays, and delayed luggage. It also offers two complimentary VIP lounge passes a year and double rewards points on spend abroad. Watch out though - there is a 2.99% overseas usage fee and although the first year is fee-free there is a £125 annual fee after that.

David Mann also recommends considering the following when taking out a credit card to travel abroad with:

FX fees

Check if you will be charged a mark-up fee by your credit card company for using the card abroad. You can get a good deal on credit cards that don’t do this, but keep in mind their exchange rate might be less in your favour and a lot of them may not offer the same perks.


Card acceptance may be limited, depending on where you travel. It’s always a good idea to make sure that you have your debit card with you as a back up to withdraw money from an ATM, as you should never use your credit card for that. Generally Visa and MasterCard are accepted globally and Amex tends to have better acceptance in big cities or at major hotels, resorts and shops in major tourist destinations. 


What happens if it all goes wrong? Amex products are consistently known for good customer service particularly in emergency or desperate situations while abroad. If you have a Visa or MasterCard it will come down to your credit card company. Always check the details with your card company - for example if you will only be covered if you booked your trip with the card you are using - and compare the options before taking the plunge.