The Best Fee Free Cards for foreign spend - Includes Starling Bank + more

114
Posted 19th Sep
I posted a similar thread at the start of this year, but thought was worth a reminder of the best fee free cards including debit and credit card providers for foreign transactions and cash withdrawals. This maybe useful to you if you are looking to spend abroad, whether it be online shopping e.g. Amazon Germany or physically whilst on holiday. Some of the traditional banks and bank account offers charge up to 3% of the transaction as well as other fees, so a fee free card can give you significant savings. Below are some options for the different cards available,

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Fee free foreign transactions/withdrawals - Debit Cards

The below gives an overview of the key debit card offers for fee free foreign spend and cash withdrawals. Some of these are tied in with bank account offers.

Starling Bank

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Starling Bank is an app based bank account with debit card and is well known on here. Generally considered one of the best options and gets decent feedback. The Starling app based current account provides fee free foreign transactions, plus you can withdraw £300 per day at foreign ATM's with no fee (far higher than other providers). In addition has FSCS protection (up to £85k) and very good customer/member feedback. As an added bonus it pays interest on credit balances and can also make deposits via the Post Office. There are currently no Starling offers that I am aware of, however is a very strong option for fee free spend.

Link to Starling Bank

  • Set up is easy and can be done in minutes. The bank card is typically delivered within a week, and the card is sent 1st class Royal Mail.
  • You can use your account as soon it's activated through your mobile wallet. Download the app in the iTunes store or Google Play.
  • Real-time notifications e.g. spending, ATM withdrawal etc
  • Fee free spending when you travel abroad. Starling Bank does not charge for ATM withdrawals (there may be local charges), you can withdraw up to £300 per day
  • Deposit cash at Post Office branches across the UK
  • Record and categorisation of your spending
  • Eligible deposits are FSCS protected for up to £85,000 and are authorised and regulated by the PRA and FCA
  • Starling Bank pays a 0.5% AER to account balances below £2,000, and 0.25% to
    those under £85,000. Whilst traditional banks may offer you a better rate on credit balances, am not aware that other fintech banks offer interest on credit balances
  • Create Goals and round-up purchases to save towards them
  • Nearby payments straight from your phone
  • Settle your IOUs in-app
  • 24/7 UK customer support
  • Trustpilot score of 4.5/5


Revolut offers

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Revolut is one of a number of fintech providers that offer fee free foreign transactions and cash withdrawals.The main advantage of Revolut is that you can spend at the Interbank exchange rate (better than the MasterCard rate) although be wary of the
weekend surcharge. Another key benefit, is that you can load it up with specific currencies when the exchange rate is good and then use these currencies when you need to. Whilst it offers no fee exchange in 24 fiat currencies, fee free cash withdrawal
abroad is limited to £200 per month. Currently there are several Revolut offers. For new customers you can get a free Revolut card delivered (usually £4.99) and a £10 bonus when you first top up £10, ends 28th September. Other Revolut offers include 3 X Free tap ins on Transport for London (TFL) with Google Pay (maximum of £2.50 cashback per day of travel)

Link to Revolut offers thread

  • Free standard card and £10 bonus when you top up £10 via the thread link
  • Uses the interbank exchange rate Monday to Friday, to give the best possible
    exchange rate. However please note that a surcharge applies at weekends
    and also markups on some currencies
  • You can load your Revolut card with specific currencies when the exchange rate is good and then use these currencies when you need to
  • No fee exchange up to £5,000 per month (0.5% fee above)
  • £200 ATM withdrawal per month is fee free which is good for the light user
  • Supports Apple Pay and Google Pay
  • Instant payment notifications
  • Free Euro IBAN account
  • Whilst not FSCS protected, funds are stored under a segregated trust account
    at Barclays/Lloyds. In the event of an insolvency of Revolut, you will be able to claim your funds from this segregated account.
  • Signing up for a Revolut card does not involve a hard credit check that could impact your credit score, uses a soft check.


Monzo Card

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Monzo account is another digital bank option which is app based, and now has over 3 million customers. They have recently cut their £5 signup bonus but generally get good feedback and have recently introduced new features such as getting your salary a day early.

Link to Monzo Card

  • Full UK current account
  • Apply quickly from the app without proof of address – you won’t be credit-checked unless you apply for an overdraft.
  • Decent app that has various features, including instant notifications and spending categorisation. Recently introduced a feature allowing your salary to be paid a day early.
  • Spend abroad with no fees at the MasterCard exchange rate.
  • You can open a savings account directly from the app with one of the providers Monzo has a partnership with.
  • Fee free cash withdrawals abroad are limited to £200, 3% charge for overseas ATM withdrawals (over £200)
  • Fully FCA-licensed and FSCS-protected


Curve Bank card

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Curve bank card is a physical (Debit) MasterCard that acts as a front to any other Visa or Mastercard you have along side an app that lets you select the actual card you spend on, analyse your spend etc. If you currently juggle spend across multiple cards, this could appeal to you.

Link to Curve Bank Card thread

  • Eliminate hidden bank fees when spending abroad (save up to 5%). You can spend £500 a month abroad with no fee, 2% above that link
  • 1% bonus cashback for the first 3 months at three merchants you select (once selected you can't change them).
  • Possible £10 bonus cashback if you sign up with code FREE5 and free card, however I am not 100% sure this is still working. The £10 will be added as Curve Rewards to your Curve Rewards account within 72 hours after making your first transaction with your Curve card, no min spend.
  • Travel back in time (up to 14 days) and change the underlying card you made a transaction on.
  • Curve Customer Protection - protecting your purchases up to £100,000


Monese Bank

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Another app based bank account is Monese card and recently improved their proposition by removing some fees for spending abroad as well as giving a generous £15 signup bonus.

Link to Monese card thread

  • UK current account, including direct debits and standing orders.
  • £15 signup bonus added after first transaction - use code PERK2019
  • Free contactless debit card
  • Fast and easy set-up (no credit check or proof of local address needed).
  • App that is easy to use, allows you to categorise your transactions and freeze the card if you lose it.
  • Free card payments and ATM withdrawals abroad - £200 free monthly, 2% fee above this
  • Foreign currency spending up to £2000 fee free, 2% fee above this
  • You can load cash into the account for free.
  • Can open both a UK and European account and switch instantly.

N26

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N26 is a German based digital bank that launched in the UK at the back end of last year. They offer fee free foreign transactions although wouldn't be suitable for withdrawing cash abroad due to the 1.7% fee. Whilst it's not covered under FSCS protection it has the equivalent German bank protection.

Link to N26


Metro Bank Online

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Metro Bank online maybe an option for those that spend in Europe, as is fee free for purchases as well as cash withdrawals (check the definition of Europe countries included). However there are fees outside of the EU so wouldn't be suitable for spend outside of Europe.Just a word of caution, Metro Bank online has regularly been in the news this year and share price is an at all time low, so worth bearing in mind.

Link to Metro Bank Online


Nationwide Flex Plus

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Whilst Nationwide Flex plus has a monthly fee of £13 a month, which includes various benefits e.g. worldwide travel insurance, it does have fee free ATM Withdrawals worldwide. A decent benefit if you already have this account. However from 1st November some changes are being made including stopping paying in-credit interest of 3% AER variable on balances of up to £2,500 and removing the £250 fee free overdraft and all overdrafts will be charged at 39.9% APR

Link to Nationwide Flex Plus




Fee free foreign transactions/withdrawals - Credit Card Offers

The key benefit of taking out a fee free credit card for foreign spend/withdrawals vs debit card, is the section 75 legal protection that it offers for purchases over £100 e.g. if things go wrong with the foreign transaction and retailer fails to provide goods/services then the card provider is liable if unable to resolve. The below gives an overview of the best credit card deals and credit card offers UK for fee free foreign spend and cash withdrawals.


Halifax Clarity Card

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Been around for a long time but worth a mention. The Halifax Clarity Card gives fee free transactions on foreign spend as well as withdrawals although will incur interest on the withdrawals. No current offers. Representative APR 19.90%

Link to Halifax Clarity Card

Tandem MasterCard

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Tandem Bank gives fee free transactions on foreign spend as well as withdrawals, and also gives 0.5% cashback. Definitely a very strong proposition if looking for a card to spend abroad. Representative APR 18.90%

Link to Tandem MasterCard

Aqua Card 0.5% cashback with rewards

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Generally Aqua have lower income requirements/criteria to get their credit card (run by Newday). Their 0.5% cashback card (max £100 per annum) is competitive and with no fees for foreign transactions. It does have a high APR if you do not pay in full, so only go for this if you are a full payer. Representative APR 34.90%

Link to Aqua Card 0.5% cashback with rewards

Santander Zero

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Santander Zero offer of fee free transactions on foreign spend as well as withdrawals, however no cashback on purchases. Representative APR 18.90%

Link to Santander Zero

Virgin Travel Money Credit Card

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No fees on overseas purchases and 0% for 12 months on purchases and 0% for 12 months on balance transfers (if you've already purchased your holiday and shift the balance over). However the card is not suitable for withdrawing cash abroad due to the 3% fee. Representative APR 21.90%

Link to Virgin Travel Money Credit Card

Nationwide Select Credit Card (need a current account to be eligible for the credit card)

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If you have a nationwide current account, you maybe eligible for a Nationwide select credit card. This gives fee free spend worldwide although there are cash withdrawal fees.Representative APR 15.90%

Link to Nationwide Select Credit Card



Fee free foreign transactions/withdrawals - Prepaid Cards

There a number of prepaid fee free card options available. Prepaid cards may suit some e.g. if have a bad credit history then a prepaid card doesn't involve a credit check so maybe more accessible.There are also some signup bonuses via various sites.

FairFX

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FairFX offer several cards including Euro/Dollar and Everywhere card. Is fee free for Euro/Dollar transactions (if you have those specific cards) but is a 1.4% fee for other currencies. There is also an associated ATM fee for cash withdrawals.

Link to FairFX

WeSwap

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WeSwap is fee free for foreign spend however does have a 1% to 2% mark up depending on how quickly you need WeSwap to complete the currency swap. ATM Withdrawals are free if withdrawing over £200.

Link to WeSwap

Caxton

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Caxton prepaid card offers fee free card transactions as well as withdrawals abroad. Another prepaid card option.

Link to Caxton



FAQ's

How does Starling Bank work?

Starling Bank is a digital, mobile-only challenger bank based in the UK operating current accounts and business banking HQ in London, Starling Bank is a licensed and regulated bank. You manage your Starling account via an app.

Is Starling Bank safe?

Starling is one of a number of new mobile app based banks. Eligible deposits are FSCS protected for up to £85,000 and are authorised and regulated by the PRA and FCA

Is Revolut covered by FSCS?

Whilst not FSCS protected, funds are stored under a segregated trust account
at Barclays/Lloyds. In the event of an insolvency of Revolut, you will be able to claim your funds from this segregated account.

Is Revolut a credit card?

All Revolut cards are prepaid debit cards.

Is Revolut free?

Currently there is a £10 signup offer when you topup £10 and a free card, ends 28th September. Link to thread

Is Monzo a credit card?

No Monzo card is a MasterCard debit card

Is Monzo free?

Yes Monzo travel card is free to signup and you can apply via the app

Is Monzo contactless?

Yes Monzo travel card is contactless with a £30 limit per transaction in the uk for contactless payments.

Is Monese protected?

Although not FSCS protected Monese guarantee the protection of 100% of customer funds. Monese Ltd is a registered agent of PrePay Technologies Limited which is an
electronic money institution authorised by the FCA

Is Monese free?

Yes, there is a free simple version of Monese including a contactless debit card. There is also a signup bonus of £15 - link to thread

Is N26 free?

Yes is free to signup to N26, although has higher charges for withdrawing money abroad versus the likes of Starling, where you can withdraw £300 a day fee free.

Is Metro bank online safe?

Metro Bank online has regularly been in the news this year and share price is an at all time low, so worth bearing in mind. However it is FSCS protected, with eligible deposits protected for up to £85,000.
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Top comments
NeoDoug119/09/2019 22:07

We took Revolut cards to Poland a couple of weeks ago. We were in a …We took Revolut cards to Poland a couple of weeks ago. We were in a relatively small town, staying with family, but thought we'd try it out. The first thing we noticed is that the exchange rate we could have got in the little currency exchange kiosks dotted around town was so close to the one offered by Revolut as to be almost indistinguishable, and on a few days their rates were actually slightly better than Revoluts! The other thing was that the one time my partner used it in a shop, even though she had preloaded the card with only Polish currency, she was charged in GBP, so had to pay an exchange fee of just over £1...I honestly don't see the point of using this card! Am 8 missing something?


Are you sure she didn’t fall for the old dynamic currency conversion trick where she chose to pay in pounds rather than local currency on the terminal?
nick194626/09/2019 17:05

When using these cards. Is it best to pay in GBP or local currency?



Local
114 Comments
Thanks Guru .
I am using PayPal business debit card, it’s exchange rate is better than Curve & pays 0.5% cashback
RIP revolut
FrozenFire19/09/2019 06:53

Thanks Guru . I am using PayPal business debit card, it’s exchange r …Thanks Guru . I am using PayPal business debit card, it’s exchange rate is better than Curve & pays 0.5% cashback


Dumb question alert.

How would you get one? Is having a business account with them a prerequisite?
We took Revolut cards to Poland a couple of weeks ago. We were in a relatively small town, staying with family, but thought we'd try it out. The first thing we noticed is that the exchange rate we could have got in the little currency exchange kiosks dotted around town was so close to the one offered by Revolut as to be almost indistinguishable, and on a few days their rates were actually slightly better than Revoluts! The other thing was that the one time my partner used it in a shop, even though she had preloaded the card with only Polish currency, she was charged in GBP, so had to pay an exchange fee of just over £1...

I honestly don't see the point of using this card! Am 8 missing something?
NeoDoug119/09/2019 22:07

We took Revolut cards to Poland a couple of weeks ago. We were in a …We took Revolut cards to Poland a couple of weeks ago. We were in a relatively small town, staying with family, but thought we'd try it out. The first thing we noticed is that the exchange rate we could have got in the little currency exchange kiosks dotted around town was so close to the one offered by Revolut as to be almost indistinguishable, and on a few days their rates were actually slightly better than Revoluts! The other thing was that the one time my partner used it in a shop, even though she had preloaded the card with only Polish currency, she was charged in GBP, so had to pay an exchange fee of just over £1...I honestly don't see the point of using this card! Am 8 missing something?


Are you sure she didn’t fall for the old dynamic currency conversion trick where she chose to pay in pounds rather than local currency on the terminal?
mtuk121/09/2019 21:04

Are you sure she didn’t fall for the old dynamic currency conversion trick …Are you sure she didn’t fall for the old dynamic currency conversion trick where she chose to pay in pounds rather than local currency on the terminal?


She says she didn't see anything about currencies, but it is possible... That still doesn't explain the exchange rate being no better (and sometimes worse) than available at little exchanges in random shops...
I tried signing up for N26 when they went live back in November last year. I'm still to this day trying to get my account closed/deleted as they declined me as a customer. First time I've had this but to be honest and they won't say what but I was just wanting to try them out since I'd done Starling and Monzo. Anyway, I can still log into the app and see it says its verifying my details. I'm five calls in now and despite each time saying they will delete my account they are yet to so.
I have a monzo card and think its great! also have relatives who use starling and say its also great!
What about Transferwise and their borderless card? Isn't it good enough to be here?
Starling.. no competition in my opinion. Son has Revolut and I had a better exrate and Starling was accepted in more places in Asia than Revolut
When using these cards. Is it best to pay in GBP or local currency?
FrozenFire19/09/2019 06:53

Thanks Guru . I am using PayPal business debit card, it’s exchange r …Thanks Guru . I am using PayPal business debit card, it’s exchange rate is better than Curve & pays 0.5% cashback



You lose CCA protection using a business card.
nick194626/09/2019 17:05

When using these cards. Is it best to pay in GBP or local currency?



Local
nick194626/09/2019 17:05

When using these cards. Is it best to pay in GBP or local currency?


Always pay in local currency. Revolut offer dynamic settlement which essentially means they are able to settle to the schemes by matching to transaction currency. They use interbank rates which is very very slightly preferable rates to starling which use the MasterCard FX rates.
Worth keeping an eye on the Barclaycard website.

I've got their Platinum travel credit card, which gives me 0% for FOREX including ATM withdrawals until 2022. Unlike some other cards, even the ATM withdrawals only need to be paid by statement date to avoid interest.

I've seen it come back a few times on their site. I jumped to it after Monzo changed their policy at an inconvenient time for me. And feel more confident it wont suddenly change terms.
Currently have Revolut and love how quickly it shows transactions and how the exchange rate is better than high street.
Never knew that it charged more at weekends. Is this usually a lot more?

Im wondering how Revolut compares to Starling and if there’s much in it? I like the fact Starling offers interest if you have a balance and a bit more to draw out at ATM.
Is there enough in it to order it over sticking with the Revolut I currently have?
More of a monzo fan myself used it Mexico and it was fantastic
Curve
Just got a monzo account, off to Egypt next week. Won't even need £200 whilst there, but good to know I won't get stung on fees. Fee free for spends too.
Took Monzo to Vegas, it got well used!
surreyspireite26/09/2019 17:05

Starling.. no competition in my opinion. Son has Revolut and I had a …Starling.. no competition in my opinion. Son has Revolut and I had a better exrate and Starling was accepted in more places in Asia than Revolut


Do you mean the starling exchange rate is better that revolut?
LoydLipp26/09/2019 16:42

What happened?


Revolut is dodgy even an ex employee said so and reported them. Apparently he told the ceo something that he was worried about and the ceo just said get on with your job. Just ignored a huge security issue.

The ceo is known to be dodgy.

I'd pick any other one though plus it's not even got the finance security certificate so your money ain't safe.

Pick monzo or starling instead.

Personally I use Halifax clarity but going to try monzo and starling too
Sonny_A26/09/2019 18:44

Revolut is dodgy even an ex employee said so and reported them. Apparently …Revolut is dodgy even an ex employee said so and reported them. Apparently he told the ceo something that he was worried about and the ceo just said get on with your job. Just ignored a huge security issue.The ceo is known to be dodgy.I'd pick any other one though plus it's not even got the finance security certificate so your money ain't safe.Pick monzo or starling instead.Personally I use Halifax clarity but going to try monzo and starling too


ok mate
It's Monzo, not Monzo travel card.

A credit card is better for foreign purchases than a debit card. Worth having both if traveling.
I got the Starling card in August put about £300 for trip to France early September used it a couple of times in supermarkets but on the way to Boat in Caen topped up with fuel so I didn't have to put fuel in to get me from Portsmouth to Liverpool - I bought about. 12 euros with but the card marked it as £200 sale ie max amount for that purchase - could not use it for a few days until the actual sale value went through - I thought my card had been hacked
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Great post but just found that it’s 3% for overseas withdrawals for aqua and 2.5% for Tandem. Good thing I checked!
Edited by: "nicknackn" 26th Sep
Another vote for Starling - I've used it all over Europe with no issues at all.
Jawz26/09/2019 17:52

Currently have Revolut and love how quickly it shows transactions and how …Currently have Revolut and love how quickly it shows transactions and how the exchange rate is better than high street.Never knew that it charged more at weekends. Is this usually a lot more?Im wondering how Revolut compares to Starling and if there’s much in it? I like the fact Starling offers interest if you have a balance and a bit more to draw out at ATM.Is there enough in it to order it over sticking with the Revolut I currently have?


Revolut can only access Friday closing rates over the weekend, so they add a little in case the FX moves. They also do this for illiquid (IE less popular) currencies. This is apparently to protect themselves against exposure.

This isn't just for atms and retail spend but for in app (eg euro/usd) conversions too.

For me it was enough to switch to a card with a more consistent approach, as well a more realistic ATM limit for countries that are more cash based.
Edited by: "spammy" 26th Sep
I've tried Monzo, Starling and Revolut.

They all work ok, nothing special and they all do pretty much the same thing. But i stayed with Starling as they dont cap overseas ATM withdrawls like Monzo or Revolut. Only thing i wish Staling did better was pull through the correct merchant when using with Curve.

I honestly dont understand why people are going crazy for Revolut - its just a prepaid card, yes the app is good, but so is every other app based account now. Starling and Monzo offer a lot more.
Hi, can you just open a starling account rather than switch accounts away from your high street bank ?.Only im going away very shortly and liked the idea of have a Starling card for free ATM access rather than a pocket full of notes.I did click on " LIVE CHAT " but couldnt see how you send your message,it just sat there.
Starling are really good for foreign transactions. My son is studying abroad in the US for a year, so after some research got him to set up a bank account with them. Simple, quick and costs nothing. You get a great exchange rate on foreign transactions, unlimited cashpoint withdrawals and a debit card. Fully recommend.
Ok I'm thinking of getting a new card that I can load now with dollars as brexit will make it £ = $ very soon, what is the best one that I can load with dollars at todays prices????
Ive had the Clarity card for a few years now.
The only issue I have with it is that you get charged interest from the moment you use an ATM. Which means while on holiday I'm having to move money from my normal bank account in to the Clarity card to cancel out the interest.
May look into Starling as the daily withdrawal limit at 300£ is pretty decent.
Already have a Revolut card, but never understood if I need to exchange my £s to local currency via the app or if it was OK to load it with £s and let them do the exchange to local currency when shopping or using a foreign ATM
Edited by: "K0YS" 26th Sep
K0YS26/09/2019 22:49

Ive had the Clarity card for a few years now.The only issue I have with it …Ive had the Clarity card for a few years now.The only issue I have with it is that you get charged interest from the moment you use an ATM. Which means while on holiday I'm having to move money from my normal bank account in to the Clarity card to cancel out the interest.May look into Starling as the daily withdrawal limit at 300£ is pretty decent.Already have a Revolut card, but never understood if I need to exchange my £s to local currency via the app or if it was OK to load it with £s and let them do the exchange to local currency when shopping or using a foreign ATM


Some people prefer to convert via app and keep local currency or choose local currency when purchasing or withdrawing, only problem is the weekend rate.
Revolut used to be on top but these days it's Starling + Monzo combo ftw.
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