Best UK Credit Cards for Travel

Tommy Buckley

Have an overseas trip booked? Whether you’re planning a week in the sun or a globe-trotting adventure, you’ll need to find a low cost way to spend.

A travel credit card could be a good option, especially if you’re visiting multiple destinations. Spending on plastic is convenient, and helps you avoid the need to convert currency or carry cash around.

But which is the best credit card for travel in the UK? We’ll run through all of your options here in this comprehensive guide. We’ll cover card features, fees, exchange rates and travel rewards too.

We’ll also touch on a fantastic alternative which could save you money - the Wise card. It’s not a credit card, but an international debit card for spending at the mid-market exchange rate in 150+ countries.

Learn more about Wise

For now though, let’s get back to UK travel credit cards.

What to look for in a good travel credit card

What is a travel credit card and why get one? If you’d like to spread the cost of your holiday spending, without paying fees for using a card abroad, it could be the best option for you.

Specialist travel credit cards are designed for use outside of the UK. One of the main benefits is that they offer great exchange rates when converting currency. This is essential, as every time you spend on a UK-issued card, a currency conversion will need to be done between GBP and the local currency.

Travel credit cards also tend to have no foreign transaction fees, also known as non-sterling transaction fees. If you check the small print for your everyday debit card, or for some non-specialist credit cards, you’ll find that these fees can be pretty high. And if you’re charged every time you buy a cocktail at the beach bar, it soon starts to become quite expensive.

So, when shopping around for a travel card, here’s what to look out for:

  • No foreign transaction fees
  • No upfront or annual fees
  • Low or no cash withdrawal fees
  • Extra rewards, such as cashback, air miles or reward points on spending
  • A good exchange rate - as close to the mid-market exchange rate as possible, just like the Wise card.

The 8 best travel credit cards in the UK

There are a lot of travel credit cards out there, so it can be tricky to choose the right one for your needs. There’s also the matter of eligibility, as not everyone will be accepted for every credit card.

To help you narrow down your options, we’ve put together a handy list of the best contenders.

Let’s start with an at-a-glance look at them all, including fees, interest rates and key features:

CardCard feeAPR on purchasesFeatures
Barclaycard Rewards Credit CardNone27.9%- Cashback on spending

- No foreign transaction fees, inc. cash withdrawals

- Free Apple subscriptions

Halifax Clarity Credit CardNoneVaries- No foreign transaction fees, inc. cash withdrawals

- UK customer support

- Fraud protection

Virgin Atlantic Reward Credit CardNone26.9%- Earn Virgin Atlantic + Holiday points on spending

- No foreign transaction fees for EUR

NatWest Credit CardNone12.9%- No foreign transaction fees

- Instalment plans

Santander All in One Credit Card£3 a month21.9%- No foreign transaction fees

- 0% interest on purchases for 15 months

- Cashback on purchases

Bip Cardless CreditNone29.9%- No foreign transaction fees, inc. cash withdrawals

- Cardless credit stored on your phone

Zopa Credit CardNoneFrom 24.9%- No foreign transaction fees

- Credit Cushion

- Instant notifications

Metro Bank Credit CardNone14.9%- Free transactions and withdrawals within Europe

1: Barclaycard Rewards Credit Card¹

The Barclaycard Rewards Card is a top pick for holidays and travel, as it has no foreign transaction fees. Unlike some other credit cards, this extends to cash withdrawals too. This means you can withdraw cash in foreign currency all over the world, and Barclays won’t charge you a fee. You’ll just need to watch out for fees charged by some ATM operators.

The card also comes with some attractive extras, including:

  • 0.25% cashback on all everyday spending
  • Protection on purchases over £100
  • Up to 5 months of free Apple subscriptions, including Apple TV+, Apple Music, Apple Fitness+, Apple News+ and Apple Arcade.

The representative interest rate on purchases is 27.9% APR (variable), based on a credit limit of £1,200 which most accepted customers get.

To apply for this card, you’ll need to be at least 21 years old with a permanent UK address (which you’ve had for the last few years). You’ll also need a decent track record of managing credit and making payments on time. You can also check your eligibility in advance.

2: Halifax Clarity Credit Card²

The Halifax Clarity Credit Card is another excellent choice for your holiday spending. It doesn’t have any annual fee, nor does it charge you for spending abroad. Halifax doesn’t charge for ATM withdrawals either, although some ATM operators might. The only thing to watch out for is that interest starts accruing from the day you make the withdrawal.

Any money you spend or withdraw in other currencies is converted using the Mastercard exchange rate on that day. The interest rate on the card is determined upon application.

There aren’t any particular extra perks with this contactless card, although your credit account will offer the following features:

  • Complete fraud protection
  • Multiple payment options
  • UK-based customer support
  • Protection for purchases between £100 and £30,000.

The interest rate and credit limit you’ll be offered is determined on application. Like many of the other providers on our list, Halifax has an eligibility checker tool you can use before you apply.

3: Virgin Atlantic Reward Credit Card³

Regularly take Virgin Atlantic flights, or book trips with Virgin Holidays? If you get the Virgin Atlantic Reward Credit Card, you can earn points towards future purchases as you spend.

Here’s what you can earn:

  • 0.75 Virgin Points for every £1 spent on everyday purchases
  • 1.5 points for every £1 you spend with Virgin Atlantic or Virgin Holidays.

And if you spend £20,000 in a year, you’ll also get an upgrade to a Premium or Companion ticket on Virgin Atlantic flights.

There’s no annual fee to get the card, and no foreign transaction fees for payments in Euros, Swedish Krona or Romanian Lei within the European Economic Area (EEA).

There is however a rather hefty 5% handling fee for cash withdrawals and other cash advance services. You should also bear in mind that interest on cash withdrawals will start to accrue right away, and ATM operators may charge their own fee.⁴

The representative interest rate is 26.9% APR (variable), based on a credit limit of £1,200. Credit limits will vary based on your circumstances though.

You can check your eligibility and apply online at the Virgin Money website.

If you’re after some premium features and don’t mind a monthly fee, there’s also an upgraded version of this credit card available.

The Virgin Atlantic Reward+ Credit Card offers bonus points on your first purchase, along with extra points on everyday spending. You’ll also get boosted points when you spend with Virgin Atlantic or Virgin Holidays. In return, you’ll pay an annual fee of £160.

4: NatWest Credit Card⁵

The NatWest Credit Card has one of the lowest interest rates of any on our list, with a representative 12.9% APR (variable) on purchases. It’s the bank’s standard everyday credit card, but it also happens to be pretty good for travel.

The card charges no foreign transaction fees on spending abroad, although there is a 3% handling fee (minimum £3) for withdrawing cash.⁶ ATM operators in some countries may also charge their own fee. And like other credit cards, interest on cash withdrawals starts to accrue right away.

It’s a Mastercard, so it uses the Mastercard exchange rate (which is pretty good) for currency conversions.

The NatWest Credit Card doesn’t have many extra features, although you can sign up for an instalment plan. This lets you spread the cost of large purchases.

To apply for this card online, you’ll need to be a UK resident aged 18 or over, with an annual income of at least £10,000.

5: Santander All in One Credit Card

The Santander All in One Credit Card comes packed with features, including:⁷

  • No foreign transaction fees on purchases - although there is a 3% fee for cash withdrawals (minimum £3)
  • 0% interest on balance transfers for 15 months, and no balance transfer fee
  • 0% interest on purchases for 15 months
  • 0.5% cashback on all purchases.

However, there is a small catch, which may or may not be a deal breaker for you. The card has a £3 monthly fee, adding up to £36 a year.⁸ This makes it the only credit card on our list which has a fee. The interest rate for purchases is 21.9% APR (variable), which is based on an assumed credit limit of £1,200.

To apply, you’ll need to be a UK resident over the age of 18, with an income of at least £10,500 a year.⁷

Want premium features? Santander also has a World Elite Mastercard, which offers extra perks such as airport lounge and Wi-Fi hotspot access and a 24/7 concierge service. There’s a fee of £15 a month, and only Santander Select and Private Banking customers are eligible to apply.⁹

6: Bip Cardless Credit¹⁰

Now for something a little different. Bip is a UK financial technology company specialising in cardless credit on your phone. It offers digital credit through British financial services company NewDay Ltd.

To sign up, you’ll get the Bip app and apply for digital credit. You can also check your eligibility first. If accepted, you can simply add your virtual credit card to Apple Pay or Google Pay, then make contactless payments using just your phone.

Bip cardless credit has a representative interest rate of 29.9% APR (variable), with starting credit limits from £250.

There are no foreign transaction fees, for both spending and cash withdrawals - although you’ll need to find a cardless ATM. Remember that ATM operators may charge their own fees, and that interest on cash advances starts accruing right away. Bip uses the Mastercard exchange rate for currency conversions.

Bip Cardless Credit has no monthly or annual fees.

7: Zopa Credit Card¹¹

Zopa Bank is a British financial technology company known for launching the first ever peer-to-peer (P2P) lending company. But it also offers credit cards, and was even named Best Credit Card Provider in the British Bank Awards 2021.

The Zopa Credit Card is great for travel, as it has no foreign transaction fees for spending outside the UK. You’ll just need to be mindful of the £3 flat fee per cash withdrawal.¹² This fee applies to purchasing foreign currency, sending wire transfers, gambling and paying off debts, as well as using the card at an ATM.

But if you just use the card for spending, Zopa won’t charge you any fees. There’s no annual fee either.

Interest rates start from 24.9%, with this and the available credit limit based on eligibility when you apply.

Other Zopa credit card features include:

  • Credit Cushion, letting you set aside some of your credit balance ready for when you really need it
  • Instant payment notifications
  • Real-time balance updates
  • View your PIN securely in the app
  • In-app card controls, such as the option to freeze your card if you lose it.

You can apply for the Zopa credit card by downloading the app. There’s even the option to do an instant eligibility check, to see if you’ll be accepted without any impact on your credit score.

8: Metro Bank Credit Card¹³

Metro Bank’s everyday low rate credit card offers free transactions in most European countries. This is for both spending and cash withdrawals.

Outside Europe, there’s a non-Sterling transaction fee of 2.99% for both purchases and cash withdrawals. You’ll also pay an extra fee of £1.50 for cash withdrawals. The card uses Mastercard’s exchange rate for currency conversions.

The Metro Bank Credit Card has a representative APR of 14.9% (variable), based on an assumed credit limit of £1,200. There are no monthly or annual fees to worry about.

To apply for this card, you’ll need to pop into your local Metro Bank branch. But the upside to this is your new credit card will be printed there and then, so you can start using it right away.

Get the Wise card for international spending and cash withdrawals

Want great exchange rates, low fees and a powerful multi-currency account too? Check out Wise.

The Wise card isn’t a credit card, but is a fantastic option for low-cost spending and cash withdrawals worldwide.

This contactless international debit card can be used in 150+ countries, pretty much everywhere Visa and Mastercard are accepted. This includes online, so it’s great for shopping on overseas websites. You can even add it to your mobile wallet, for easy contactless payments using just your phone.

The Wise card automatically converts your pounds to the local currency whenever you spend, using the margin-free mid-market exchange rate. There’s just a small conversion fee, or there’s no charge if you already have the currency in your Wise account.

Join Wise today

Need cash? You can withdraw up to £200 a month with no Wise fee (although ATM operators may charge their own fee).

And if you need to send money overseas, such as to pay expenses on a holiday home or book a hotel, you can use your Wise account to do it in just a few clicks. Wise makes it easy to send money all over the world, for low, transparent fees.

Please see the Terms of Use for your region or visit Wise fees & pricing for the most up-to-date information on pricing and fees.

And there you have it - our helpful rundown of the best credit cards for travel in the UK at the moment. We’ve covered cards from big banks and digital providers alike, along with non-credit cards like Wise that are perfect for worldwide adventures.

You should have all the info you need to compare fees, rates and perks, and choose the right card for you.

Top tip - it’s a good idea to make use of the eligibility checker tool that most providers offer. It’s a good way to check that you’ll be accepted, without the risk of damaging your credit score with a rejection.

Sources used:

  1. Barclaycard - Barclaycard Rewards
  2. Halifax - Travel Credit Cards
  3. Virgin Money - VAA Cards
  4. Virgin Money - Virgin Atlantic Reward Credit Card Summary Box
  5. NatWest - The NatWest Credit Card
  6. NatWest - Summary Box for The NatWest Credit Card
  7. Santander - All in One Credit Card
  8. Santander - All in One Credit Card Summary Box & Key Information
  9. Santander - Credit Cards
  10. Bip Credit - Summary Box
  11. Zopa - Credit Card
  12. Zopa - Credit Card fees
  13. Metro Bank - Credit Card

Sources last checked on date: 08-Aug-2023

*Please see terms of use and product availability for your region or visit Wise fees and pricing for the most up to date pricing and fee information.

This publication is provided for general information purposes and does not constitute legal, tax or other professional advice from Wise Payments Limited or its subsidiaries and its affiliates, and it is not intended as a substitute for obtaining advice from a financial advisor or any other professional.

We make no representations, warranties or guarantees, whether expressed or implied, that the content in the publication is accurate, complete or up to date.

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