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6 tips for using your credit card overseas

A credit card can save you carrying money around when you’re travelling abroad.

However, 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 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. Let your bank know your travel plans

It’s a good idea to let your bank know when you’re heading off on your travels, and keep your contact details up to date. This means they can get in touch 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.

How to let us know your travel plans:

  1. Log on to online banking.

  2. Select ‘Notify us of travel’ in the ‘My banking’ section.

  3. Go to ‘Create new travel plan’ and complete the form.

  4. Select ‘Back to my accounts’.

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.

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.

5. Pay in the local currency

When using your card abroad, whether it’s in a restaurant or a souvenir 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. 

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.