A globetrotter's guide to using credit cards abroad
Using your credit card abroad is really easy. You can use it the same way you do at home, but there are some key things you need to bear in mind:
- Think about what you need to do before taking your credit card abroad.
- Research credit card exchange rates and fees abroad you might need to pay.
- Check what assistance your provider will give you during your trip.
Using a credit card abroad
If you’ve got a credit card and you’re jetting off on holiday, it’s important you know what to expect before using your card abroad. Your card will work in the same way it does at home in most countries across the world for shopping and withdrawing cash – fuss-free and easy to manage.
Save yourself from travelling with lots of cash, spread out the costs of your trip and get to grips with all the important information with our guide to using credit cards abroad.
What to do before taking your credit card abroad
- If you’re using your credit card overseas you may have to pay fees (see below) – so check before you travel.
- Check your credit card expiry date to make sure it doesn’t run out during your trip.
- Think about setting up a Direct Debit or standing order to cover any payments due while you’re away – otherwise you might not be able to pay for anything with your credit card overseas.
- See whether you’re actually able to use your card abroad by finding out if there are restrictions on using credit cards in the country you’re travelling to.
What credit card exchange rates and fees abroad will you have to pay?
- Foreign exchange fee: if you make a credit card payment for something in foreign currency, your credit card will be subject to your payment scheme exchange rate. This is the variable rate used by Visa, Mastercard or American Express® when converting one currency to another. You can find out more information here.
- Cash withdrawal fees: in most instances you’ll be charged fees abroad whenever you use your credit card for withdrawing cash from an ATM.
- Interest charges: if you’re taking out cash with a credit card abroad, or making purchases in a foreign currency, you’ll pay interest in most cases. The interest will increase until your balance is cleared.
How to make payments from overseas
Paying off your credit card while you’re away is simple. It means you’ll have complete peace of mind when buying things, and can enjoy your time away.
To make a payment when you’re travelling abroad, log in or register for Online Card Services, then select 'Payments'. One of the quickest methods is to make a payment using your UK debit card.
You can also call us using the international phone number printed on the back of your card, or can send us a secure message in Online Card Services.
If you’re unable to do this, most foreign banks are able to make SWIFT payments to us. They’ll need the following details:
Your full 16 digit card number as a reference
Bank sort code: 40-02-50
Bank account number: 81357948
IBAN A/C Number: GB02MIDL40025081357948
SWIFT payments may take up to 5 days to reach your account.
As long as there are no restrictions on your credit card account, the value of your payment will be available for you to use from the start of the business day on which your payment is due to be completed.
If you need help during your trip
If you have any problems while you’re abroad, don’t panic. If you think your credit card has been lost or stolen, or that someone else knows your PIN, contact us as soon as you can.
If you're calling from abroad, phone 0044 1244 659005. Remember to ask the local operator to reverse the call charges.
You can also access a number of emergency services through Travel Assistance Services, in association with International SOS, if your trip lasts fewer than 90 days.
You can contact International SOS on 0800 085 5928. Lines are open lines are open 7 days a week, 365 days a year. If you’re outside the UK, call 00 44 20 8762 8118.
This service isn’t holiday insurance, and you might be charged for some of the services. Any fee is determined on a case-by-case basis.
The services include over-the-phone medical advice, local medical and dental referrals, evacuation or repatriation, transport home for children if you’re unwell, local legal referrals, emergency translation, and advice on lost documents.
Using your card abroad is easy, and usually safer than travelling with lots of cash. If you want to know more about using credit cards abroad, check the full terms and conditions here.