Choosing the wrong plastic to use while travelling could quite easily set you back pounds 100 in fees and hidden commission. However, by being card sharp when buying items and withdrawing money, you can get the bill down to a fraction of that - and, in some cases, reduce it to zero.
If you're a Norwich & Peterborough building society Gold Classic current account holder you're sorted, because this is one of the very few
Nationwide building society has a current account, FlexPlus, that gives you commission-free withdrawals from ATMs across the world, plus free travel insurance, breakdown cover and mobile phone insurance - but you have to pay pounds 10 a month.
If you don't want to shift your current account, the best bet is the Halifax Clarity credit card, which charges nothing for foreign exchange and doesn't impose ATM fees, either.
N&P's Gold Classic account and the Halifax Clarity card came out top in a comprehensive survey of debit and credit card overseas charges carried out by
One of the big problems for consumers is that the fees and charges for using your plastic abroad are often bewilderingly complex, and full of jargon and small print. Someone using their debit card to withdraw cash from a foreign ATM may well find they are charged 2.75% to 3% of the money in hidden commission, plus a separate ATM fee that is usually expressed as a percentage of the amount taken out. For example,
If you have a
The Halifax Clarity card boasts that it has "no fee to use it anywhere worldwide" and won't charge for ATM withdrawals.
But do pay your bill in full every month. There is no interest-free period on cash withdrawals, so you pay interest from the day you take the money out. However, the representative APR is not bad at 12.9%, meaning a pounds 100 withdrawal would cost just over pounds 1 in interest at the end of the month.
Meanwhile, remember that if a shop, restaurant or hotel gives you the option to pay in sterling, rather than the local currency, insist you pay in the latter.
The same applies to ATMs. Otherwise you could pay as much as 3-4% extra.
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