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Which FREE UK credit cards have 0% foreign exchange fees?

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What are the best FREE credit cards with no foreign exchange fees?

As the Lloyds Avios Rewards Mastercard is no longer available to new applicants, there are no travel rewards credit cards which offer fee-free overseas purchases.

If you use a rewards credit card when travelling, you will incur a fee of 3% on everything you buy. This can never be justified by the miles and points earned on the transaction. It may be justified if you need to hit a spending target to trigger a sign-up bonus or a voucher such as the British Airways American Express 2-4-1.

Over the next week or so we are looking at a few no and low FX fee options. We reviewed Tandem a few weeks ago (click here). Here is our review of the WeSwap Mastercard travel money card, here is our updated review of Revolut (with a special offer for HfP readers) and here is our review of Starling.

All of these products have different features – there is no ‘right’ answer. Some are more fiddly than others, some are prepaid cards and some are credit cards, some have added benefits such as 0% interest on purchases.

Mainstream free credit cards with no foreign exchange fees

In this article I want to run through some mainstream credit cards which offer 0% foreign exchange fees and have no annual fee.  I haven’t included Virgin Money or Aqua as I want to cover those separately.  We looked at Tandem here.

None of the cards in this article let you earn rewards.  Aqua and Tandem, not covered here, offer 0.5% cashback on foreign spending on top of having 0% FX fees.

If you DO want to earn miles and points from your foreign spending, one option is Curve Card. Curve is free and has no foreign exchange fees up to certain limits. It recharges your purchase to any other Visa or Mastercard you own in Sterling. This means you earn miles and points on the underlying card without paying the usual 2.99% foreign transaction fee. Curve Card will pay you £5 for trying it outread our article here.

Another option is to get a free card from Currensea. Currensea is a simple but clever idea. You pay abroad with your Currensea Mastercard debit card. Currensea translates the cost to Sterling with just a 0.5% fee (83% less than most cards charge) and withdraws the money from your bank account. You can find out more by clicking here. Currensea is free so there is no risk in giving it a try.

Option 1:  Halifax Clarity Mastercard

Core USP:  Nothing, but it does all the basics and is well established

Fee on overseas cash withdrawals?  No (but no interest free period)

Clarity is the daddy of 0% FX credit cards.  Details are on their website here.  You will see that Halifax is offering a £20 statement credit if you apply by 31st August and make a foreign currency transaction by 30th September.

There is no requirement to have a Halifax current or savings account to apply.

The card ticks all the key boxes – it is free, it has no foreign exchange fees on purchases and it has no cash withdrawal fees abroad.

The representative APR is 18.9% variable on both purchases and cash withdrawals.

Post Office Money Platinum credit card no travel foreign exchange fees

Option 2:  Post Office Money Platinum Mastercard

Core USP:  0% for 18 months on balance transfers – but let down by the charge on ATM withdrawals abroad

Fee on overseas cash withdrawals?  Yes

This is another long-standing 0% card.  (The benefit of picking a card which has a long-term record of 0% FX fees is that you can be more confident that the benefit will not be taken away overnight.)

Details are on the Post Office Money website here.  The issuer is actually Bank of Ireland UK under licence.

The card is free and has no foreign exchange fees on purchases.  It DOES have a fee on cash withdrawals of 2.5% (minimum £3).  There is no charge if the card is used to buy travel money at a Post Office.

An extra benefit is 0% interest for 18 months on balance transfers.  A transfer fee of 2.89% applies.

The representative APR is 18.9% variable.

Option 3:  Creation Everyday Mastercard

Core USP:  Lower interest rate (Clydesdale is lower but has fees on cash withdrawals) which is important because you will be charged on cash withdrawals even if you settle your bill in full at the end of the month

Fee on overseas cash withdrawals?  No (but no interest free period)

This is a newer entrant to the market.  Creation also issues the IHG Rewards Club card and will also (re)launch the Marriott Rewards card in August, so you may want to be wary – I’m not sure how Creation treats multiple applications for different cards from the same person.

This card is an excellent package.  It is free, it has no foreign exchange fees on purchases and it has no cash withdrawal fees abroad.

It also has the lowest interest rate of any card here.  The representative APR is 12.9% variable on purchases and cash withdrawals.

Details are on the Creation website.

Santander Zero credit card

Option 4:  Santander Zero Mastercard

Core USP:  Free UK cash withdrawals

Fee on overseas cash withdrawals?  No (but no interest free period)

Santander tends change its benefits packages more often than most issuers, so this may not be a card for life. However, the package as it stands is impressive.

The package is excellent.  It is free, it has no foreign exchange fees on purchases and it has no cash withdrawal fees abroad.

There is a USP that no other card here matches – it also has no cash withdrawal fees in the UK either although you will pay daily interest on the amount withdrawn.

The representative APR is 18.9% variable on both purchases and cash withdrawals.  You can find out more here.

Option 5:  Barclaycard Platinum Travel Visa

Core USP:  0% interest on purchases for 12 months, 0% interest on overseas cash withdrawals if settled within 56 days

Fee on overseas cash withdrawals?  No, until 2022 (overseas cash withdrawals get 56 days interest free credit)

Barclaycard states that it will withdraw the 0% deal on this card in 2022.  Until then, however, it is worth a look because it is the only card on this list to offer an interest-free period on overseas cash withdrawals.  You WILL pay interest immediately on any UK cash withdrawals.

One other benefit of the Barclaycard option is 0% interest on purchases for 12 months.

The representative APR is 19.9% variable (27.9% on cash withdrawals).

Option 6:  Clydesdale B Mastercard

Core USP:  Lowest interest rate of any free 0% FX credit card, no balance transfer fee although 9.9% APR applies

Fee on overseas cash withdrawals?  Yes

The Clydesdale B Mastercard has a very low interest rate – the representative APR is 9.9% variable.

The trade-off is that, whilst purchases abroad have no foreign exchange fee, there are fees on cash withdrawals abroad.

You can transfer a balance from another credit card to the B card for free.  You will pay interest at 9.9% variable on the transfer, but if you pay off the balance quickly this may be cheaper than taking a ‘0% interest on balance transfers’ card with an upfront fee.

Conclusion

If you trust Moneyfacts, these are all of the free UK credit cards with 0% FX fees, excluding Tandem (we reviewed Tandem here) and Virgin Money and Aqua.

There is no definitive ‘best’ choice.  If you have decided to go with a 0% fee credit card instead of a debit or pre-paid card, you need to decide what is important to you – free cash withdrawals, 0% balance transfers, 0% on purchases, cashback (offered by Aqua and Tandem), whether or not you already have a card from a particular bank – and then pick the one which suits you best.


Want to earn more points from credit cards? – May 2022 update

If you are looking to apply for a new credit or charge card, here are our top recommendations based on the current sign-up bonuses.

In February 2022, Barclaycard launched two exciting new Barclaycard Avios Mastercard cards. You qualify for the bonus on these cards even if you have a British Airways American Express card:

Barclaycard Avios Plus card

Barclaycard Avios Plus Mastercard

25,000 Avios for signing up and an upgrade voucher for spending £10,000 Read our full review

Barclaycard Avios card

Barclaycard Avios Mastercard

5,000 Avios for signing up and an upgrade voucher for spending £20,000 Read our full review

You can see our full directory of all UK cards which earn airline or hotel points here. Here are the best of the other deals currently available.

The Platinum Card has doubled its sign-up bonus to 60,000 Membership Rewards points, which convert to 60,000 Avios or other airline miles, if you apply by 1st June 2022.

British Airways BA Premium Plus American Express Amex credit card

British Airways American Express Premium Plus

25,000 Avios and the UK’s most valuable card perk – the 2-4-1 voucher Read our full review

American Express Amex Gold

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold

Your best beginner’s card – 20,000 points, FREE for a year & two airport lounge passes Read our full review

American Express Platinum card Amex

The Platinum Card from American Express

60,000 points (SPECIAL OFFER) and an unbeatable set of travel benefits – for a fee Read our full review

Virgin Rewards Plus credit card

Virgin Atlantic Reward+ Mastercard

30,000 points bonus (SPECIAL OFFER) and 1.5 points for every £1 you spend Read our full review

Earning miles and points from small business cards

If you are a sole trader or run a small company, you may also want to check out these offers:

Amex Platinum Business American Express

American Express Business Platinum

40,000 points sign-up bonus and a long list of travel benefits Read our full review

American Express Business Gold

20,000 points sign-up bonus and free for a year Read our full review

British Airways Accelerating Business American Express card

British Airways Accelerating Business American Express

30,000 Avios sign-up bonus – plus annual bonuses of up to 30,000 Avios Read our full review

Capital on Tap Visa card

Capital On Tap Business Rewards Visa

10,500 points bonus – the most generous Avios Visa for a limited company Read our full review

For a non-American Express option, we also recommend the Barclaycard Select Cashback card for sole traders and small businesses. It is FREE and you receive 1% cashback on your spending.

Barclaycard Select Cashback credit card

1% cashback (3% on business travel for four months) and no annual fee Read our full review

Comments (92)

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

  • Michael Jennings says:

    I have a Post Office Credit card that I have had since 2007. I use this for all my non-Sterling spending. I also have a Halifax Clarity card that I use for foreign ATM withdrawals. I then pay this off immediately and pretty much eliminate interest. Thus I pay essentially no charges for changing currency when abroad, which is great. (Those local ATM charges that you get in some places are annoying, however).

    I like to carry two no-fee cards to keep cash and card spending separate. I find this easier. Your mileage may vary.

    • Alan says:

      Yep I’ve had PO MC for over a decade now too! Don’t use it nearly as much now given other options but always good to have a backup when abroad – also sometimes use it as a guarantee/deposit card, eg for ski hire, then pay the bill with Amex at the end of the rental.

  • Graham Walsh says:

    Am I the only one struggling to get excited by all of this. I’ve take cash out twice in the last 3 years of travelling for work and leisure. That was Belgium and Tel Aviv. I’ve got my Monzo and also a Curve card linked to IHG mainly. Also have Lloyds Avios but that is recent. Everything goes on the card when away. For the sake of 1% means I’m racking up miles too.

    • the real harry1 says:

      As I mentioned before, assuming you keep your Gold Amex card for 12 months to get the 10,000 point bonus for £15K spend, you effectively earn 2.67 MR points per £1 spent abroad, so using it to buy £1000 of stuff abroad has cost you net £3.30 (valuing MR points @1p).

      Hardly going to make me lose sleep.

      Especially as I get a lot better than 1p value out of those points when I redeem.

    • Rob says:

      I don’t have one – Curve is good enough for me for the little bits of cash I take out abroad. Horses for courses though.

      • Genghis says:

        Trouble with ATM withdrawals on Curve is the £2 flat fee + 1%, making small amounts quite “expensive”.

  • Caleb says:

    What’s the difference when using Lloyds Avios MasterCard and Amex abroad? Does Amex give a lower rate? Thanks. Since I just got the card and was using Amex in my holiday, just wanna make sure I used the right one.

    • Alan says:

      Definitely used the Amex. The exchange rate might be marginally worse but both are fee-free and the Avios earnings rate is much higher on the Amex!

      • Caleb says:

        Thanks! Yea, couldn’t find the exact rate they use but did most with Amex, unless the machine doesn’t like it.

    • Rob says:

      The extra Avios earned on the Amex will almost certainly outweigh any small FX rate difference.

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