We write a lot on Head for Points about ways to minimise the 2.99% foreign exchange fee added to most credit and debit card transactions outside the UK.
For personal travel you might want to get a separate free credit card to use abroad. There are no travel rewards card without a foreign exchange fee. One option is to get a free Curve Card – see this HFP article – and link it to a miles-earning Visa or Mastercard.
When you are travelling for work, however, your credit card bills will be reimbursed by your employer. There is no incentive for you to get a separate 0% foreign exchange fee card. Your goal should arguably be on maximising rewards for yourself.
I won’t focus on credit card spend bonuses here because those don’t change whether you are spending in the UK or abroad. I just want to look at cards which increase your earning rate for FX transactions.
Here are your options for cards which have bonuses for foreign spending, but in return add on a 2.99% FX fee:
American Express Preferred Rewards Gold – double points abroad, so 2 per £1. That translates into 2 Avios or other airline miles, 4 Hilton Honors points, 3 Marriott Bonvoy points or 6 Radisson Rewards points amongst other things. The card is free for the first year. Representative APR 56.6% variable including the annual fee (free in year 1) based on a notional £1,200 credit limit.
IHG Rewards Club Mastercard – double points abroad, so 2 IHG Rewards Club points per £1 which I value at 0.8p. The card is free. Representative APR 22.9% variable.
HSBC Premier Mastercard – double points abroad, so 1 Avios or other airline mile. The card is free but you must have a HSBC Premier current account which has strict eligibility criteria. Representative APR 18.9% variable. The World Elite version of this card, with a £195 fee, also earns double points abroad and is worth 2 Avios per £1.
As you can see there are some good options here that can get you a return of around 2% on your spending. That is less than the 2.99% foreign fee you are incurring, of course, which is why these are not attractive deals for personal use, just for business expenditure.
(Want to earn more miles and points from credit cards? Click here to visit our dedicated airline and hotel travel credit cards page or use the ‘Credit Cards Update’ link in the menu bar at the top of the page.)
Disclaimer: Head for Points is a journalistic website. Nothing here should be construed as financial advice, and it is your own responsibility to ensure that any product is right for your circumstances. Recommendations are based primarily on the ability to earn miles and points and do not consider interest rates, service levels or any impact on your credit history. By recommending credit cards on this site, I am – technically – acting as a credit broker. Robert Burgess, trading as Head for Points, is regulated and authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority to act as a credit broker.