If you are traveling and need to withdraw cash from ATMs abroad, your card issuer will almost definitely charge you a fee to withdraw your money. The same goes for making purchases abroad. If you use a rewards credit card, you will incur a fee of 3% on everything you buy in a foreign currency.
There are various cards, that are essential for any traveler, which offer low or zero foreign exchange fees when withdrawing money and spending abroad. In this article, I outline two of my favorites.
Revolut No-Fee Pre-Paid Card
The Revolut card is my favorite card for spending abroad. It is a free no-fee pre-paid travel money card. Signing up is free via my link and when you load it with £10 GBP, your rather snazzy plastic card (pictured above) will be sent to you for free too.
This free plastic card is a special deal we have arranged with Revolut for Luxury Travel Diary readers, as the card usually has a £4.99 GBP delivery charge, so it is worth taking advantage of this free offer and trying it out. You have nothing to lose.
The Revolut plastic Mastercard or VISA card is linked to the Revolut smartphone app which lets you exchange your money into any foreign currency fee-free, at interbank exchange rates. Much like an online-only bank account, you need to add funds before you can spend them.
You can exchange currency within the app if you want to store your money in different currencies. If you want to store your money in your home currency, then the moment you make your purchase, Revolut exchanges your money at the real exchange rate without adding any fees. It also lets you transfer money for free to friends or businesses.
Free ATM withdrawals with Revolut?
The free revolut card offers free cash withdrawals, limited to £200 GBP per month. After that, you pay 2%.
With the premium card (costing £6.99 GBP/mth) offers free cash withdrawals are limited to £400 GBP per month.
Note: Try to avoid withdrawing or making purchases on the weekend as there us a 0.5% -1.5% mark up depending on the currency. Instead, if you want to use your card at the weekends, you should probably exchange your currency on a Friday to use it at the weekends.
Interestingly, there is no longer a fee for credit card top-ups following the change in UK law, so you can potentially earn miles and points by loading up your card with cash from Visa and Mastercards. Some credit cards treat Revolut as a cash advance (so you get no points and are charged a cash fee). Other cards such seem to treat it as a purchase (would earn points, no fee).
You can apply for a free Revolut card if you live in UK, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Republic of Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland.
There are imminent plans to expand the card to North America, the Middle East, Asia, and Australasia, so please feel free to register your interest for the card on our Luxury Travel Concierge page. Submit your name and email address to get yourself at the front of the queue. We will personally email you when the card becomes available beyond the EU.
Once you have loaded some cash into your Revolut account, and you have received your card, you can immediately spend and withdraw cash more-or-less anywhere in the world without paying those rip-off fees.
Do I have any other options?
If you want to earn miles and rewards from your foreign spending, another good option is the Curve Card, which is free and has a 1% foreign exchange fee (instead of the usual 3%). It recharges your purchase to any Visa or Mastercard you own in Sterling, so you earn miles and points on the underlying Mastercard or Visa card. Best of all the Curve Card will give you £5 GBP free just for trying it out.
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