Taking your cards with you when you travel outside the UK means you won’t have to rely on just cash. However, there are fees to be aware of when using your debit or credit card for purchases outside the UK.
What are the charges for using your cards outside the UK?
You may be charged a fee to make purchases or withdraw cash from ATMs in a foreign currency. These are the 3 charges you need to be aware of:
1. Non-sterling transaction fee
You’ll usually be charged a fee to convert the currency if you use your card outside the UK:
- in shops
- in bars and restaurants
- to withdraw money from a cash machine
If you pay in the local currency, a non-sterling transaction fee may be added to the cost of your purchase. The fee will be a percentage of the value of the transaction. For HSBC customers, this is typically 2.75% for debit cards and 2.99% for credit cards. The total amount is converted to pounds sterling when the transaction is debited to your account.
If you choose to convert to pounds sterling at the point of sale, the conversion rate is set by the merchant and fees can often be high. In most cases it’s cheaper to pay in the local currency, then either Visa or Mastercard will do the currency conversion at their current rate. You should always have the right to select which currency to pay in.
2. Non-sterling cash fee
If you use your card to withdraw money from a cash machine, there's often a separate ATM fee on top of the non-sterling transaction fee.
For HSBC customers there's a non-sterling cash fee of around 2% (minimum £1.75) on withdrawals using a debit card. With a credit card the cash fee may be around 3% (minimum £3).
If you’re an HSBC Premier or Advance customer, you won’t be charged a non-sterling cash fee for using your debit card to withdraw money from an ATM outside the UK.
Explore more: Should you use your card or travel money outside the UK?
3. Interest charges
If you use your credit card to make purchases outside the UK, or withdraw cash, interest charges will apply in the same way they do at home.
Do fees appear on your statement?
Your bank statement will show details of your international transactions, including a breakdown of any charges incurred.
It should include the exchange rate and cost of the purchase when converted to pounds sterling, plus the non-sterling transaction fee and non-sterling cash fee if you’ve withdrawn money with your card.