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Using your card outside the UK: fees and charges explained

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 on international trips.

What are the charges for using your cards outside the UK?

You may have to pay a fee to buy things or withdraw cash from cash machines in a foreign currency. These are the 3 charges you need to know about:

 

1. Fee

There's usually 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, there may be a fee added to the cost. The fee will be a percentage of the value of what you're buying. For HSBC customers, this is 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. Fees can often be high so 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. Cash fee

If you use your card to withdraw money from a cash machine, there's often a separate fee on top of the one for converting currency.

For HSBC customers there's a cash fee of 2% (minimum £1.75, maximum £5) on withdrawals using a debit card. With a credit card the cash fee is 2.99% (minimum £3). 

If you’re an HSBC Premier customer, there's no cash fee for using your debit card to withdraw money from a cash machine outside the UK.

You can find out more about the pros and cons of using your card or travel money outside the UK.

 

3. Interest charges

If you use your credit card to pay for things 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.

It should include:

  • the exchange rate

  • the cost of what you've paid for when converted to pounds sterling

  • any fee for converting currency

  • the cash fee if you’ve withdrawn money with your card