Best debit card to use abroad: Top 6 UK picks

Gert Svaiko

Getting ready to jet off abroad? If you’ve got an overseas holiday coming up, you’ll need to know the best way to spend in the local currency.

Exchanging currency isn’t always the most convenient, and carrying cash around doesn’t feel very secure. So is it best to use a debit card abroad, and which cards are suitable for use outside of the UK?

Find out everything you need to know here in our handy guide. Here, we’ll run through the 6 best UK debit cards to use abroad which have no foreign transaction fees.

This includes the Wise debit card, which works worldwide in 150+ countries and automatically converts your money to the local currency at the mid-market exchange rates.

Learn more about the Wise debit card 💳

Table of contents

How do debit cards work abroad?

Debit cards work abroad in just the same way as in the UK.

The only thing to note is that you might need to notify your bank that you’re travelling abroad, before you go. Otherwise, your overseas transactions could be mistakenly flagged up as potentially fraudulent and your card blocked.

What are the advantages for using a debit card abroad vs credit and other travel cards?

The main advantage of using a debit card for travel spending over other forms of payment is simply convenience. If you have a current account, you already have the card. And the card is linked to your bank account, so you have a source of funds without needing to top up the balance.

There’s also no interest on debit card spending, unlike with a travel credit card. And you can withdraw cash, usually without charges. Credit cards nearly always charge high fees for ATM withdrawals.

📚 Read more: Best Credit Cards in the UK - Fees, Rates, Rewards and More

What to look for in a good debit card for abroad use?

The most important feature to look for in a travel-friendly debit card is no foreign transaction fees. This is also known as a non-Sterling transaction fee.

You need to check that there are no fees for spending or withdrawing cash at an ATM outside the UK.

Other desirable features include:

  • Cashback or rewards for travel spending
  • Manage your card in a mobile app - including security features like freezing your card if you lose it.

Top picks: the best debit cards to use abroad

So, which are the best travel debit cards currently available in the UK? Here are your best options for fee-free foreign transactions and other benefits.

1. Wise - Best for multi-currency spending worldwide

From the money services provider Wise, the Wise debit card is tailor-made for international spending. It’s contactless, works worldwide in over 150 countries and is compatible with mobile wallets.

It can be used for spending and cash withdrawals in multiple currencies, with no foreign transaction fees. This means that there’s no need for separate cards for multi-destination trips - you can do it all with just the one card.

You can manage your card and account in the handy Wise app, wherever you are in the world. This includes options to freeze your card if you lose it.


  • Open a Wise account online for free
  • No monthly fees
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Automatically converts currency at mid-market exchange rates plus a tiny conversion fee
  • Works worldwide in over 150 countries
  • Easy app-based money and card management
  • 4.67% AER variable interest on GBP balance (as of 31. January 2024. Just note, investments, even in a low-risk fund, are never guaranteed)


  • One-time fee of £7 to order a card
  • Withdraw up to £200 a month (max. 2 withdrawals) for free*. Fee of 1.75% + 0.50 for withdrawals over this limit.


*Wise will not charge you for these withdrawals, but some additional charges may occur from independent ATM networks.

2. Chase - Best for cashback¹

The Chase debit card, available with the bank’s current account, offers cashback on spending as well as travel-friendly benefits.

You’ll get 1% cashback on everyday purchases made on your debit card for a year. This includes purchases made abroad as well as at home in the UK.

Plus, there are no Chase fees for spending or withdrawing cash abroad. The card uses Mastercard’s competitive exchange rate to convert currency, with no extra fees or mark-ups added on top.

You can manage your card in the Chase app, and add it to mobile wallets too.


  • No fees from Chase for withdrawing cash abroad
  • 1% cashback on spending for a year (£15 a month maximum)
  • 1% AER interest on your current account balance
  • Access to linked easy-access savings account with 4.1% interest
  • 5% interest boost on ‘round up’ savings
  • No credit check required (only an ID check)
  • No foreign transaction fees.


  • Cashback is limited to just £15 a month
  • Must have a smartphone to apply.

3. Virgin Money - Best all-round card with no foreign transaction fees

Open a Virgin Money M Plus current account (the bank’s standard current account) and you’ll get a Virgin Money Debit Mastercard.

It’s a contactless card that charges no foreign transaction fees for spending or cash withdrawals outside of the UK.² When currency is converted, the Mastercard exchange rate is used.

You can use it anywhere that Mastercard is accepted. It can be added to mobile wallets, but only Apple Pay and Google Pay.

The account itself also offers some great benefits for everyday use, which we’ll cover below.


  • 2.02% AER interest on current account balances up to £1,000³
  • Access to linked M Plus Saver offering 3.55% AER interest³
  • Tailored cashback offers on spending at selected retailers
  • No foreign transaction fees.²


  • Only use with limited mobile wallets
  • Daily cash withdrawal limit of just £350.²

4. Starling Bank - Best for app-based card management

Starling Bank’s debit card can be fully managed through its user-friendly mobile app. This means you can do everything from freezing your card if you lose it, through to setting up instant alerts when you spend. You’ll also get 24/7 support within the app, wherever you are in the world.

Starling also charges no fees for foreign spending or ATM withdrawals. And it uses Mastercard’s competitive exchange rate.⁴

The bank’s current account is great for everyday use, and you can even open a linked Starling Euro account if you like. This could make it easier to manage your spending if you travel to euro-using countries a lot.


  • No monthly fees
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Easy app-based money and card management
  • 24/7 support
  • Instant notifications and spending insights.
  • 3.25% AER on balances up to £5,000⁵


  • Daily cash withdrawal limit of just £300
  • Must have a smartphone to apply.
📚 Read more: Starling Bank UK debit card

5. First Direct - Best for withdrawing cash abroad

While the card perks we’ve covered so far are great and could save you money, First Direct has an extra incentive for joining the bank.

The debit card itself has no fees for withdrawing cash or spending in foreign currencies outside the UK.⁷ This makes it ideal for travel. What’s more, there’s no need to wait for your physical card to arrive, as First Direct lets you create a virtual card and start using it right away.

You can manage your card and account in the First Direct app.


  • No foreign transaction or ATM fees⁷
  • No monthly fees⁷
  • £250 interest-free overdraft⁶
  • Access to linked Regular Saver Account with 7% AER interest⁶


  • No interest or extra benefits, such as cashback on travel spending

6. Kroo - Best for earning interest on your account

One of the newer digital banks on the scene, Kroo offers an app-managed current account with a whopping 4.35% AER interest on your money.⁸

What’s more, you’ll get a Visa debit card with zero foreign transaction fees. Overseas cash withdrawals up to £200 a month are free, with a fee of 3% above that.⁹ You can use your card to shop and withdraw cash worldwide, wherever Visa is accepted.


  • No foreign transaction fees⁸
  • 4.27% interest on your current account balance⁸
  • Overdraft available (24.9% APR representative)⁸
  • Real-time spending notifications
  • Card security features including freeze/unfreeze.


  • Limited free ATM withdrawals, with a fee of 3% if you withdraw more than £200 a month⁹
  • No cashback or other rewards for travel spending
  • Must have a smartphone to apply and use the account.
📚 Read more: How to find the best current account in the UK?

A comparison of the best travel debit cards

Here’s your at-a-glance comparison of all the best debit cards to use abroad, issued by UK banks and providers.

Card nameFX rateATM feesCoverage
Wise debit cardMid-market exchange rate- £0 up to £200 a month (max. 2 withdrawals*

- 1.75% + £0.50 above this

Worldwide, 150+ countries
Chase debit cardMastercard exchange rate£0 up to £1,500Worldwide
Virgin Money debit cardMastercard exchange rate£0 (withdrawal limit up to £350 a day)Worldwide
Starling Bank debit cardMastercard exchange rate£0Worldwide
First Direct debit cardMastercard exchange rate£0Worldwide
Kroo debit cardVisa exchange rate- £0 up to £200 a month

- 3% above this


*Wise will not charge you for these withdrawals, but some additional charges may occur from independent ATM networks.

FAQ on debit cards that you can use abroad

What if my debit card gets lost or stolen abroad?

Most of the debit cards on our list can be temporarily frozen and unfrozen using the provider’s mobile app. You should be able to do it in just a tap, while you report the loss to the provider.

Can I use my debit card in any country?

For all the cards on our list, you can use them in any country which accepts Visa or Mastercard (whichever your card is).

Is it best to use a credit card or a debit card for spending abroad?

As long as the card has no foreign transaction fees, you can use either. Just watch out for fees for withdrawing cash abroad using a travel credit card.

How do I avoid foreign transaction fees on my debit card?

All you have to do is choose the right debit card. All the cards on our list have no foreign transaction fees when spending abroad. To avoid other charges relating to currency conversion, always choose to pay in the local currency rather than Sterling.

Is it better to take out cash or use a debit card when travelling?

It’s up to you, and may also depend whether cards are widely accepted where you are, but debit cards can be a little more secure than carrying cash around with you.

After reading this, you should have a good idea of what’s out there when it comes to travel-friendly debit cards. Pick one of the cards on our list for your holiday, and you can’t go wrong.

Of all of these, the Wise debit card could be a great choice for spending abroad. It offers multi-currency spending worldwide in 150+ countries, for low fees and fair mid-market exchange rates. It’s the ultimate travel companion.

Register with Wise today 🚀

Sources used:

  1. Chase - Chase account
  2. Virgin Money - Debit card transactions and withdrawal limits
  3. Virgin Money - Current Accounts - M Plus Current Account
  4. Starling Bank - Travel
  5. Starling Bank - Current Account
  6. First Direct - Current Account
  7. First Direct - Fee Information Document
  8. Kroo - Current Account
  9. Kroo - Fee Information Document

Sources last checked on date: 07-Feb-2024

*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.

Money without borders

Find out more

Tips, news and updates for your location