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Posted 19th Sep 2019
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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