How you can spend on cards overseas without getting charged.
Last summer Travelex officially launched its Supercard. With one you’d be able to spend abroad on your normal debit and credit cards without getting charged extra fees. Brilliant.
Sadly, last week I got a letter telling me Travelex was shutting down the card. The running costs were too high and all existing cards will stop working from 24th July.
So what does that mean for my overseas spending? Using my standard debit and credit cards can cost a fortune, with extras for using the card abroad, cash machine charges and less than perfect exchange rates.
However, there are more and more options available to you which are also free to use. So here’s my rundown of other ways to spend on holiday without incurring charges.
1. Fee-free credit cards
There are more and more credit cards available which let you spend money overseas without a charge.
I’ve had a Halifax Clarity for years, which is a MasterCard. There are no fees for spending on the card and no fees for cash withdrawals (unless the machine itself charges you). You do have to pay interest on any money you take out, buy if you pay the card off straight away these extras are minuscule. You can also get £20 cashback if you apply before 3rd September!
Other banks have got in on the act too. The Barclaycard Platinum is a Visa and doesn’t charge interest on cash withdrawals – though it’s only fee-free until 2022. You can also get the Santander Zero and Creation Everyday, which are both MasterCard like the Halifax.
With all of these look to see if there is an “eligibility test”. This is a check to see how likely it is you’ll get the credit card without a check appearing on your credit file. Money Saving Expert has this for most cards.
2. Monzo prepaid card
I never use pre-paid cards because they almost always come with a ton of fees.
However, there’s a new option from app-only bank Monzo, which is fee-free You can transfer cash to the card and spend as you would all over the world as long as MasterCard is accepted.
To get the cards you need to download the Monzo app and register.There might be a bit of a wait due to demand, but you will be sent a prepaid card.
You do have to transfer £100 to it the first time, but after than you can top up in increments of £10. Since it can be used in the UK without charge (unlike most prepaid cards) you won’t be stuck if you need the money before or after your holiday. You can even withdraw the money from a UK cashpoint.
You can read my review of Monzo and jump the queue to get your hands on one here.
An alternative is Revolut. Also operated via an app on your phone, Revolut also has no fees for spending or ATM use, and gives you the live exchange rates (though there’s a 0.5% to 1.5% extra charge at weekends). There is also a £5 charge for delivery.
Curve works the same way Supercard did as it acts as a middle man between your bank or credit card and the retailer.
You use the Curve app on your phone to scan in your banking cards, and then select the one to use as default. If you use Apple Pay or Android pay, it’s a bit like that. When you use the accompanying MasterCard, any payment is then automatically taken from your selected card. You then use the app to monitor your purchases.
It’s not perfect. There is a 1% fee for payments, but this is a lot less than most other debit cards. The other downside is this is just open to business customers. So you won’t be able to get one for your own use unless you’re self-employed.
if you can get it, I do have a code though where you can get £5 credit with your first purchase. Use 25PBH when you download the app. There’s also a rewards scheme which offers points worth 1.5% off at retailers such as Boots and House of Fraser.
>> Want to get some holiday cash? Here’s how to make sure you get the best rates on travel money