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6 tips for using your credit card overseas

Whether you’re going on holiday or a business trip, travelling with your credit card is a safe and convenient way to spend money abroad.

But there may be charges for using it – particularly if you withdraw cash. 

Follow these tips to spend safely and avoid additional costs when using your credit card abroad.

1. Double-check the credit card expiry date

Your trip abroad might not go to plan if your credit card doesn't work, 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 type of payment card with you as a backup. This could be a debit card or another credit card – just in case something happens to your main card.

2. Update your contact details

It’s a good idea to keep your contact details up to date before you travel. This enables your bank to get in touch with you, if and when they need to.  

If you’re an HSBC customer, we’ll look out for any unusual spending on your accounts – just as we do at home. You can update your contact details here.

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

Going on a gap year, or a holiday of a lifetime? Avoid missing any credit card or bill payments while you’re away by setting up a Direct Debit or standing order. This helps you spend less time sorting out bills and more time enjoying yourself.

Explore: Managing your money before, during and after travel

4. Take contact details for your bank

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

If you’re an HSBC customer, you can temporarily block your card while abroad. If your card is lost or stolen, call us on +44 1442 422929 or use our mobile banking app to temporarily freeze your card.

Explore: Banking on the go

5. Pay in the local currency

When using your card abroad, whether it’s in a restaurant or a shop, you may be charged a ‘non-sterling transaction fee’. But if you’re given the choice of paying in pound sterling (GBP) or local currency, consider choosing local currency. This way, you’ll avoid dynamic currency conversion fees (when transactions are processed in GBP) and, in most cases, will get a better exchange rate. 

Explore: Should you pay in local currency outside the UK?

6. 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 a non-sterling cash fee, as well as a cash advance fee, on every amount you withdraw.

If you need cash, either get travel money before you go, or use your debit card to withdraw. Keep in mind, you may still be charged an international transaction fee on your debit card.

Explore: Should you use a card or travel money outside the UK?