Avoid A Multimillion Pound Rip-Off: The Best Card To Use Abroad

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A recent study showed holidaymakers face a multimillion-pound rip-off when changing holiday cash at the airport, potentially losing up to £354.17 GBP for every £1,000 GBP charged. It is the same story across the world.

Also, while you are abroad, a rewards credit card will incur a fee of 3%-5% on everything you buy in a foreign currency. The same goes for your bank. They can charge up to 5% in foreign exchange fees and unfair charges.

For a UK family of four taking a two-week break, the average holiday cost is £4792 GBP. If your bank or card company charges 5% on foreign spend, this adds £240 GBP onto the cost of the average family trip abroad!

Take holiday cash out at the airport, and this fee is much, much higher.

Even worse, if you try to withdraw cash from ATMs abroad, your card issuer (be it a bank debit card or your usual credit card) will also charge you a fee to withdraw your money AND are likely to charge a poor exchange rate too.

What Are The Best Cards Without Foreign Exchange Fees

As a general rule, you should not use your Amex credit card or bank debit card abroad. Instead, they should pick a card that offers low or zero foreign exchange fees when withdrawing money and spending abroad.

Good choices are the free Curve Card or the free Revolut Card. Of note, apply for the Curve Card with the link above and you get £5 GBP free which is a nice bonus!

You should apply for the best card for your needs and link them to your bank account, debit or credit card, to spend abroad, or withdraw cash from a foreign ATM bank machine for free. This means you avoid or pay less the rip off fees.

Why The Curve Card Is A Great Choice

Curve is changing the game of travel, starting with eliminating hidden fees. You can apply for the Curve Card for free here

Why?

Only Curve gives its customers the ability to spend abroad on any of their current Visa and Mastercard debit and credit cards and avoid any of the currency exchange fees they are usually charged.

How?

It allows you to add all your cards to the Curve card and spend it via the Curve card. Every time a user makes a payment with the Curve card, the card of your choice will be charged. Like Apple Pay or Google Pay, but with a card.

This also means that when you spend abroad through your Curve card, Curve does the currency exchange instead of your bank. Curve uses the real exchange rate, saving customers up to 5% and exchange costs in fees which would otherwise be charged by your bank when you spend abroad.

Curve has a free cash withdrawal cap of £200 GBP for Curve Blue customers and £400 GBP for Curve Black customers on all major currencies and gives the customers the market rate, so you can easily withdraw cash anywhere Mastercard is accepted. The Curve charges a flat £2 GBP fee or 2% for withdrawals above the cap.

Safety: Carrying less cards means less risk

More and more people are becoming savvy holidaymakers with research showing almost two people in five don’t take jewelry on holiday, and one in five don’t take any electronics. But a customer leaving their whole wallet at home wasn’t an option, until now. With Curve you can link all your cards to your one card and just take Curve out, leaving the rest safely at home or in the hotel’s safe. If you lose your Curve card, it can be locked in a tap. The card and app also hold no bank details from other cards and are fully safe. The result? Traveling worry-free thanks to Curve’s simple control.

Also, by carrying a Curve or a Revout card you don’t need to carry so much cash with you on holiday. This means you can limit the amount of cash you carry with you on holiday, reducing the pain should your wallet get lost or stolen.

A Card Without The Need To Top Up

This is a significant difference between the Curve card and the Revolut card. There are no pesky top-ups needed with your Curve card.

With the Revolut card, you need to top up, which can be inconvenient while traveling. Curve leaves all of that behind. It auto charges the chosen account as its cardholders shop, similarly to how Apple or Google Pay work, but with a card that works everywhere, Mastercard is accepted.

See your spending in multiple currencies instantly

As a Curve customer, you get a notification each time you spend with Curve that shows you the amount you spent in their home currency and local currency for each transaction. You’ll no longer have to do panicked mental math after paying and wonder if you have been ripped off in a foreign currency. You’ll also be able to feel reassured they are seeing every transaction that goes through on their accounts, keeping them secure and in control.

Use Curve Anywhere

Curve’s zero currency conversion fees service extends across more than 150 global currencies, which is also quite unique in the space. Other providers in the market (such as Revolut outlined below) only support less than 30 currencies.

Here are the full details behind the new Curve Travel proposition:

Blue Card:

The Blue Card (free), is Curve’s basic card. Hers what customers get:

  • Spend Abroad: 0% fee and access to the Real Exchange Rate on spend in over 150+ supported foreign currencies worldwide. Initial cap of up to £500 GBP per rolling month, and 1% fee thereafter (in November this will become 2% thereafter)
  • ATM Extractions Abroad: £200 GBP at 0% fee, 2% or £2 GBP per transaction thereafter (whichever is greater)
  • Weekend Spend Abroad: as the currency market is closed, we need to charge a 0.5% markup on Euros and US Dollars and 1% markup for all other supported currencies (in November this becomes 0.5% fee for Euros and US dollars, 1.5% fee for all other currencies)

Black Card

If you’re a frequent traveler, you’d be better off using the Curve premium Black Card (paid). Here’s what customers get:

  • Spend Abroad: 0% fee and access to the Real Exchange Rate on spend in over 150+ supported foreign currencies worldwide, for up to £500 GBP per rolling month, and 1% fee after that (in November this will become 2% after that)
  • ATM Extractions Abroad: £400 GBP ATM at 0 fee, 2% or £2 GBP per transaction thereafter (whichever is greater)
  • Weekend Spend Abroad: as the currency market is closed, we need to charge a 0.5% markup on Euros and US Dollars and 1% markup for all other supported currencies (in November, this becomes 0.5% fee for Euros and US dollars, 1.5% fee for all other currencies)

These are superior to comparable competitors, as with Curve, you have zero fees when you spend with any of your cards.

Other Benefits

  • Add all of your cards into Curve via the app and use them all with one debit card
  • Earn 1% cash back at major brands from our selected list of retailers for the first 3 months (Amazon, Uber, Gett, Selfridges, Tesco, Waitrose, Sainsbury
    etc.)
  • Easily block the card from the app if you lose it, unblock it when you find it
  • See instant notifications with all of your spend
  • Easily see an automatic breakdown of all your spending by category with insights and quickly and easily create and email your expenses

Another Good Choice Is The Revolut Card

I also use the Revolut No-Fee Pre-Paid Card, which supports 30 currencies. 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 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. The moment you make your purchase, Revolut exchanges your money at the real exchange rate without adding any fees.

The 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 Friday to use it at the weekends.

What If I Live In America or am not in the EU?

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.

Remember, if you are planning to book a First or Business Class flight or a luxury hotel, contact our luxury travel concierge to get a quote before booking. We offer free upgrades, free breakfasts, deals, and special benefits.

Note: Benefits offered correct at the time of writing but may be amended at discretion of the vendor.

This post is solely the opinion of the author and has not been sponsored, influenced, or reviewed by the proprietor or brand being appraised.