Credit Cards Abroad

We all use our bank accounts when we're on holiday, whether we've run out of cash for something at the airport, or simply don't fancy spending two weeks in Spain with a money belt strapped just above our swimming trunks. There are, however, many different cards that will charge and affect your bank balance differently when spending abroad.

Currency Conversion

The easiest way to lose money when spending on holiday is using your card to convert pounds to dollars, euros or another currency. Make sure your card has branches in other countries if you’re planning on using it abroad – if your account counts as a globally “local” account, such as Citibank in the States and the United Kingdom, then it’s never a problem taking cash out in the right currency as there’s no foreign charges. However, if you’re with an issuer that charges fees, consider withdrawing cash at a local ATM and simply taking it to a converter with better rates, or see if there are cards you can use with your issuer that have lower rates specifically for holiday spending and money withdrawal.

Paying in Pounds

There is always the chance that many overseas services will offer you the option of paying in pounds sterling, which – at first – may seem like a wonderful idea as it appears to circumvent any currency conversion charges. This is very rarely the case, as in fact the fee charged by your card issuer (usually in the region of 2.75%) is far better value than most services will offer. The conversion rates on “paying in pounds sterling” are often so poor it would be infinitely more expensive than simply tackling the bill with your card. So stick to your guns when on holiday, and use your card and its rates to your advantage if they push this option on you while dining out, or engaging in other holiday activities – relaxing shouldn’t be difficult.