Using your Halifax debit card abroad

Gert Svaiko

Jetting off on holiday? If you’re going abroad any time soon, you’ll need to find the best way to spend during your trip. You could buy some foreign currency in cash, but many people prefer the convenience of using a debit or credit card.

In this guide, we’ll be taking a closer look at the Halifax debit card and how it works abroad for UK customers. This includes fees, exchange rates, transaction limits and everything else you need to know.

So if you’re a Halifax customer or are thinking of becoming one, read on.

We’ll also show you a clever alternative for easy, low-cost spending worldwide in over 150 countries - the Wise card from the money services provider Wise. It has no foreign transaction fees, only a tiny, upfront currency conversion fee, and offers great mid-market exchange rates for any currency conversions.


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.

Do Halifax debit cards work abroad?

Yes, Halifax debit cards are accepted worldwide at over 26 million locations.¹ With Halifax, using your debit card abroad is nearly the same as using it in the UK. This means you can use it in restaurants and bars, at transport hubs and hotels, and for shopping. You can also use your Halifax debit card to withdraw cash.

However, there is a drawback - and that is the extra cost. Like many other UK banks, Halifax charges foreign currency transaction fees, which includes extra charges for purchases and cash withdrawals.

There’s also the currency conversion and exchange rates to consider. We’ll look at all of this in more detail shortly, so you know exactly what to expect.

📚 Read more: How to open a Halifax account online?

What you need to know before using your Halifax debit card abroad

Before you hop off the plane and start spending, there are a few key things you need to know about using your Halifax debit card abroad.

1. You don’t need to let Halifax know you’ll be going abroad¹

It’s no longer required to inform Halifax when you’ll be spending outside the UK. However, you can contact the bank if you want to.

But according to Halifax, it has sophisticated fraud and security systems that can spot suspicious activity on your accounts. This means you can relax during your trip.

2. You can manage card security in the Halifax app while you’re away

Worried that your debit card has been lost or stolen while you’ve been away? It’s good to know that you can use the Halifax mobile banking app to manage card security. In just a few taps, you can:

  • Freeze your card
  • Report your card lost or stolen
  • Order a replacement card.

You can also view your PIN and change your contactless limit if you want to.

3. You have chargeback protection if something goes wrong

Halifax uses Visa debit cards, which means that you’ll have something called Visa Chargeback protection if something goes wrong with a purchase.² This can help you to get a refund in case of fraud, or if there’s an issue with goods you’ve bought from a retailer.

📚 Read more: How to cancel a Halifax credit card?

Charges for using the Halifax debit card abroad

Now, how much will it actually cost you to spend and withdraw cash abroad with your bank?

Let’s take a look at the main Halifax debit card abroad charges you need to know about:¹

Transaction typeHalifax fee
Foreign currency transaction fee2.99%
Foreign currency purchase fee£0.50
Foreign currency cash fee£1.50

It’s likely that you’ll be charged both the foreign currency transaction fee, and either the purchase or cash fee - depending on whether you’re buying something or withdrawing cash. So if you make a purchase abroad using your Halifax debit card, you’ll pay 2.99% + £0.50 in fees.

These fees can soon add up, making your trip more expensive than it needs to be. So, you may want to use your card sparingly or find a cheaper way to spend overseas such as a credit or debit card designed for travel.

In addition to these fees, there may also be charges by the overseas ATM operator - it should say on the ATM screen if this is the case, before you confirm the withdrawal.

And if you choose to pay in GBP rather than the local currency, the merchant could apply their own fee or exchange rate for carrying out the currency conversion.

What’s the exchange rate for debit cards Halifax uses to convert currency abroad?

As well as fees, the overall cost of using your Halifax debit card abroad will also be affected by the exchange rate.

This is because you’re spending in a foreign currency, such as euros, US dollars, Japanese yen or Swiss francs. The UK bank account your card is linked to is denominated in GBP, so the currency has to be converted when you spend. And when this happens, exchange rates apply.

Halifax debit cards are issued by Visa, so use Visa exchange rates for converting currency.³ You can check the latest Visa exchange rates for your chosen currency here.

Are there any transaction limits?

Just like when spending and withdrawing cash in the UK, there are some limits on what you can do with your Halifax debit card when abroad.

The Halifax debit card transaction limit for cash withdrawals at an overseas ATM is £500 per day.¹ The bank doesn’t say if there’s a limit on purchases, although you can always check in advance if there’s a particularly large payment you want to make while on holiday.

There will also be a maximum limit per transaction for contactless card payments, in places where they are accepted. This can vary between countries, and between retailers and merchants too. In the UK, the contactless payment limit is usually £100 per transaction, but this could differ in the country you’re travelling to.

Wise – Money for here, there and everywhere

Want a cheaper way to spend abroad? Check out the Wise card, as it’s tailor-made for travelling. It’s not a bank card but offers many similar features.

The Wise card is the perfect holiday companion, as it’s contactless, works worldwide and is compatible with mobile wallets. Best of all, it has no foreign transaction fees, only a tiny, transparent currency conversion fee. This could make it much cheaper than using a debit card issued by a bank.

You can use it to spend and withdraw cash in a whopping 40 currencies, in over 150 countries worldwide. This means that there’s no need for separate cards for multi-destination trips - you can do it all with just the one card.

Here are all the advantages at-a-glance:

  • Open a Wise account online for free
  • Get a Wise debit card for a one-time cost of just £7
  • No monthly fees
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Automatically converts currency at mid-market exchange rates
  • Works worldwide in over 150 countries
  • Withdraw up to £200 a month (max. 2 withdrawals) for free. Fee of 1.75% + 0.50 for withdrawals over this limit.

Sign up with Wise today 💰

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.

After reading this, you should now be all clued up on how the Halifax debit card works abroad. We’ve covered where and how you can use your card for international spending and cash withdrawals, along with the fees and exchange rates to watch out for.

It can get a little costly, with both the foreign currency transaction fee and the purchase/cash fee. So, make sure you’re comfortable with the charges before you pack your Halifax card in your travel wallet.

Sources used for this article:

  1. Halifax - Using your cards outside the UK
  2. Halifax - Debit Cards
  3. Halifax - Helping you compare our debit card or Cashcard currency charges with other providers

Sources checked on 05-12-2023.

*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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