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Don't be caught out by overseas card charges

Category: Travel
Author: Tim Leonard
Updated: 25/06/2018

Charges for using your cards abroad

Spending a small amount of time and effort arranging your holiday spending money could see you making significant savings. Using your credit and debit cards abroad may appear to be the easiest and most convenient way of transacting, but costs can soon mount up if you're not careful.

Most credit cards will levy a foreign usage charge of up to 2.99% for both purchases and cash transactions. Charges are applied each time the card is used, and as a result can quickly escalate. Taking money out on your credit card could cost even more thanks to sky-high interest charges and is never advisable - even in the UK

Don't think that debit cards will be any better, either. Most people in the UK are used to free banking, but the same rules don't apply when using your cards abroad. Taking money out of a cash machine abroad means you will usually be charged both a conversion and transaction fee. Similarly, when you use your card to pay for goods or services, you'll be facing the same charges - many providers have a minimum charge, so try not to make lots of small transactions or you may find the costs mounting up.

To help you out, we have created a full list of charges made by UK current account debit cards and credit cards for transactions made abroad.

Credit Card Overseas Charges

There is usually a commission charge and a cash withdrawal charge for transactions in currencies other than sterling (GBP).

The table below highlights the current charges, by provider, for transactions made in currencies other than sterling (GBP).

Credit Card Provider Foreign Usage Charge (EU) Foreign Usage Charge (Worldwide)
AA 2.99% 2.99%
American Express 2.99% 2.99%
Bank of Ireland UK 2.75% 2.75%
Bank of Scotland 2.95% 2.95%
Barclaycard 2.99% 2.99%
Capital One Bank 2.75% 2.75%
Clydesdale Bank 2.95% 2.95%
Creation 2.99% 2.99%
Danske Bank 2.75% 2.75%
first direct 2.99% 2.99%
First Trust Bank (NI) 2.75% 2.75%
Santander 2.95%
Nil – 123 Credit Card
Nil – 123 Credit Card
Smile 2.75% 2.75%
Tesco Bank 2.75% 2.75%
The Co-operative Bank 2.75% 2.75%
TSB 2.95% 2.95%
Ulster Bank 2.75% 2.75%
Vanquis Bank 2.99% 2.99%
Virgin Money 2.99% 2.99%
Yorkshire Bank 2.95% 2.95%
Source: - correct as of 11/07/2016

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Debit Card Overseas Charges

The table below highlights the current charges your bank or building society will accrue for transactions made with your debit card abroad.

Bank or Building Society ATM Commission Charge/ Fee (per cash withdrawal in addition to withdrawal fee) ATM Cash Withdrawal Charge/ Fee (per withdrawal) Spending Commission Charge/ Fee per purchase (non-sterling) Spending Charge/ Fee per purchase (non-sterling)
Bank of Scotland 2.99% 1.50%
(min £2.00, max £4.50)
2.99% £1.00
Barclays 2.99% £1.50 2.99% Nil
Citibank 2.75% 2.00%
(min £2.00, max £5.00)
2.75% Nil
Clydesdale Bank Nil 3.75%
(min £1.50)
Nil 2.75%
(Min £1.50)
Coventry Building Society Nil 2.00% Nil Nil
Cumberland BS Nil 2.50%
(Nil for Cumberland Plus Account)
Nil 2.50%
(Nil for Cumberland Plus Account)
Danske Bank 2.75% £1.25 2.75% £0.75
first direct 2.75% 2.00%
(min £1.75, max £5.00)
2.75% Nil
First Trust Bank (NI) 2.75% 1.50% 2.75% Nil
Halifax 2.75% £1.50 2.75% £1.50
HSBC 2.75% 2.00%
(min £1.75, max £5.00)

(Nil on Premier and Advance accounts)
2.75% Nil
Lloyds TSB 2.99% 1.50%
(min £2.00, max £4.50)
2.99% £1.00
(Nil on Platinum account)
M&S Bank 2.75% Nil 2.75% Nil
Metro Bank Nil in Europe

1.90% elsewhere
Nil in Europe

£1.00 elsewhere
Nil in Europe

1.90% elsewhere
Nationwide BS 2.00% £1 for each withdrawal 2.00% Nil
NatWest 2.75% 2.00%
(min £2.00, max £5.00)
Nil 2.75%
(min £1.00)
Norwich & Peterborough Building Society Nil Nil
(£2.00 for Gold Start Account)
Nil Nil
(£0.75 for Gold Start Account)
Post Office Money 2.75% £1.50 2.75% Nil
Royal Bank of Scotland 2.75% 2.00%
(min £2.00, max £5.00)
2.75% £1.25
Santander 2.75% 1.50%
(min £1.99)
2.75% £1.25
The Co-operative Bank 2.00%
(min £2.00)
2.75% Nil 2.75%
Tesco Bank 2.75% 1.00% 2.75% Nil
TSB 2.99% 2.00%
(min £1.50, max £4.50)
2.99% £1.00
Ulster 2.65% 2.25%
(min £2.00, max £5.00)
2.65% £0.75
Yorkshire Bank Nil 3.75%
(min £1.50)
Nil 2.75%
(min £1.50)
Source: - correct as of 11/07/2016

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* Please note the above charges/fees also apply if you use your debit card to buy goods or services in a currency other than sterling (GBP) on the internet or over the phone.

Prepaid Cards

Don't forget that there are alternative cards, called prepaid cards that you can use abroad, many of which are designed specifically for foreign use. These cards have a balance that can be topped up but are not attached to your bank, making it easier and safer to use abroad. You can use them in shops and restaurants just like any other card. You need to beware that some of these cards still have an exchange charge and ATM withdrawal fee, but they are generally lower than the fees charged by your bank.

Read our money tip about prepaid cards and their fees.

Questions & Answers

Q. How will I know how much I've been charged for a transaction abroad? Will my foreign transaction be shown on my bank statement?

a. Your bank or building society statement will show details of your overseas transactions, including a breakdown of any commission and cash withdrawal charges incurred.

Q. When will the foreign use charges be taken from my account?

a. Both the commission fee and the non-UK cash withdrawal fee will be taken from your account on the day the transaction is shown on your account. This may not be the same day you carried out the transaction as it depends on when the merchant posts the payment.

Disclaimer: Information is correct as of the date of publication (shown at the top of this article). Any products featured may be withdrawn by their provider or changed at any time.

Disclaimer: This information is intended solely to provide guidance and is not financial advice. Moneyfacts will not be liable for any loss arising from your use or reliance on this information. If you are in any doubt, Moneyfacts recommends you obtain independent financial advice.