Using your credit card overseas

A credit card can save you carrying cash around with you when you’re travelling abroad. Follow our tips to spend safely and avoid additional costs.

Before you go

1. Double-check the expiry date

Your trip abroad might not go to plan if your credit card expires, so make sure it’s not going to expire while you’re away. Even if your card is not due to expire, it’s worth taking another payment card with you too, just in case something happens to your normal card.

2. Check whether you need to tell your bank

See whether you need to tell your bank so they don’t believe it’s suspicious activity on your card and block it from being used.

Make sure your contact details are up to date in case your bank needs to get in touch with you about possible fraudulent activity on your account.

3. Set up monthly repayments if you're on a long trip

Going on a gap year or holiday of a lifetime? Arrange for money to come out of your account automatically so that you don’t miss any credit card or bill payments while you’re away. You can do this by setting up a Direct Debit or standing order.

Explore more: How to set up a standing order

4. Take contact details for your bank

Make a note of your bank’s overseas number to call in an emergency, for example if your credit card is stolen. Make sure you’re set up for online or mobile banking so you can log on to your account and keep track of your spending or block or cancel a card if you need to.

When you get there

1. Pay in the local currency

When shopping or paying for a meal in a restaurant, always pay in the local currency. Some retailers may offer to process your transaction in sterling – known as dynamic currency conversion – but you’ll usually be charged a higher exchange rate for this.

Explore more: Should you pay in local currency?

2. Avoid using your credit card for ATM withdrawals

You can use your credit card abroad to withdraw local currency at cash machines, but you may be charged an international transaction fee as well as a cash advance fee on every amount you withdraw. 

3. Use your credit card to pay for car hire

Most car hire companies will ask for a credit card when you collect the car in case they need to deduct the cost of any damage. It’s useful to pay for the booking by credit card if it’s between £100 and £30,000 as you’ll be protected under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act if the hire company goes bust or takes more money from you than it’s entitled to.

Explore more