Best banks and bank accounts for travelling and spending abroad

Use our table to find the best bank accounts and travel money cards to use abroad on your holidays or business travel and save on fees

Compare fees of high street banks Compare fees
Latest reviews of accounts and cards Read reviews

If you’re going on a gap year, or on a trip abroad, you’re going to need a card you can use overseas. Traditional high-street banks usually charge fees for taking money out abroad, as well as making transactions for using contactless. A new range of banking apps such as Starling, Monzo and Revolut all come with low fees when using your debit card abroad. Apart from debit cards there are other options including prepaid travel cards and also credit cards with travelling benefits.

Compare overseas fees of popular high street banks and e-money accounts

1 - 9 of 9
Name Product Account fee Overseas cash withdrawals Overseas card transactions Switching deals benefits Incentive Link
OFFER
Select Account
Free
2.75%
2.75%
Free 24/7 Emergency Cash Service to withdraw up to £300 for online and telephone banking customers or £60 if not.
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View details
OFFER
First Direct Current Account
Free
2.75% conversion fee plus 2% cash fee
2.75%
£150 for accounts switched using Current Account Switching Service or a £20 welcome cash offer to open an account.
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View details
OFFER
Everyday Current Account
Free
2.95%
2.95%
£160 cashback to switch to a simple and straightforward current account, with no monthly fee (T&Cs apply).
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View details
Current Account - Age 18 and over
Free
£0
£0
No fees overseas.
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View details
Bank Account
Free
2.99%
2.99%
Eligible for Barclays Blue Rewards.
View details
Chase Current Account - Current Account
Free
0%
0%
Receive 1% cashback on everyday purchases for 12 months from account opening.
View details
Bank Account
Free
2.75% conversion fee plus 2% cash fee
2.75%
Eligible for Regular Saver product.
View details
Classic
Free
Europe: 2.99% conversion fee plus £1.50. cash fee
Elsewhere: 2.99% conversion fee plus £1.50 cash fee
Europe: 2.99% plus flat fee of £0.50.
Elsewhere: 2.99% plus flat fee of £0.50
Everyday Offers - Earn up to 15% cashback from selected retailers when shopping with a Lloyds Bank credit or debit card.
View details
FlexAccount - Funded
Free
2.99%
2.99%
£100 for new accounts and £125 for existing account holders when a minimum of two active Direct Debits are switched using the Current Account Switching Service within 30 days of account opening.
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Compare up to 4 providers

Latest reviews of accounts and travel cards you can use abroad

Starling Bank - Current Account - Age 18 and over

Current Account - Age 18 and over
Finder rating
★★★★★
Customer rating
★★★★★
Go to site Read review

£0

Min. opening balance

£0

Account fees

0.05% AER

Interest (AER)

No fees overseas.
This online-only current account offers free ATM withdrawals abroad, alongside fee-free spending when overseas. The smartphone app which customers use to manage their account contains a wealth of features, including an analysis of your spending, the ability to freeze your debit card if it is lost or stolen, and instant notifications every time you spend money. Customers can pay in cash via the Post Office. Meanwhile, cheques can be cashed via the “Cheque Deposit” feature within the app. Account holders can also easily transfer money to their friends using the “settle up” and “pay nearby” features.
Representative example: If you use an arranged overdraft of £1,200 you'll be charged interest at 15% EAR variable .
  • Free UK current account, usually up and running in a matter of minutes. Card delivered within a week.
  • Slick mobile app packed with budgeting and saving features, including spending categorisation and saving goals.
  • Safe and secure, fully licensed by the FCA and PRA.
  • While Starling offers a wide range of services, it’s still a fairly new bank, so does not yet offer more complex services such as mortgages.
  • There aren’t any bank branches, but you can use the Post Office to deposit and withdraw cash.
Interest rate 0.05% AER
Minimum opening balance £0
Minimum operating balance £0.01
Switch service guarantee Yes
Account fee £0
Overseas card transactions £0
Overseas cash withdrawals £0

Revolut - Revolut Standard

Revolut Standard
Finder rating
★★★★★
Customer rating
★★★★★
Go to site Read review

£0

Min. opening balance

£0

Account fees

0% AER

Interest (AER)

Sign up and get a free £10 top-up with Finder and get 1 month of Revolut Premium for free, too. For new customers only, T&Cs apply.
With Revolut, you can spend on your card fee-free on weekdays at the interbank exchange rate in 150 currencies. At the weekend, you'll be charged a markup of either 0.5% or 1%, depending on the currency. Foreign transactions are also limited to £1,000 a month, after which a 0.5% fee applies, and cash withdrawals are limited to £200 a month (there's a 2% fee after that). Having a Revolut account will also enable you to hold and send money in more than 30 currencies and you'll be able to earn up to 10% cashback when you book accommodation around the world through Revolut Stays.
  • Quick application,
  • No credit check or proof of address,
  • Set budgets and save for financial goals,
  • Virtual cards for online purchases,
  • Easy to transfer money internationally,
  • Linked 'Junior' account available for one child
  • 1% currency conversion charge on weekend spending abroad,
  • Free cash withdrawals in the UK and abroad both limited to £200 per month,
  • Cannot deposit cash or cheques into the account,
  • Charged a fee to receive your bank card
Interest rate 0% AER
Minimum opening balance £0
Account fee £0
Overseas card transactions 0% Mon-Fri (max. £1,000 per month)
Overseas cash withdrawals 0% Mon-Fri (max. £1,000 per month)

Monese - Monese

Monese
Finder rating
★★★★★
Customer rating
★★★★★
Go to site Read review

£0

Min. opening balance

£0

Account fees

0% AER

Interest (AER)

Get a free £10 bonus when using your card to make a transaction for the first time using the promo code FINDER22 plus earn up to £30 from each friend you refer.
The Monese multi-currency card means that no matter where you are in the world, you can withdraw money at any ATM at the wholesale currency exchange rate. If you select either the Classic or Premium plan (which are paid-for accounts), you'll be able to spend on your card for free and withdraw cash up to a set limit with no fees (£500 and £1,500 respectively). If you choose the free Starter plan, foreign transactions will come with a fee of 2% and withdrawals will attract a fee of £1.50. You can upgrade your plan at any time and downgrade again after your travels.
  • UK current account that does all you can expect, including direct debits and standing orders.
  • Fast and easy set-up (no credit check or proof of local address needed).
  • Colourful 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.
  • You can load cash into the account for free.
  • Can open both a UK and European account and switch instantly.
  • With a free plan, fee-free ATM withdrawals and cash loads are limited to £200 per month.
  • You can’t put your savings in a separate account or earn interest on them.
  • It doesn’t offer anything more than a current account.
  • No physical branches.
Interest rate 0% AER
Minimum opening balance £0
Account fee £0

Curve

Curve enables you to connect all of your separate debit and credit cards to your Curve account and then spend from any of them using just a single Curve payment card. The Curve card is free, but there are also two premium options, Curve Black and Curve Metal, that charge a monthly fee. Spending on your card and withdrawing cash abroad is fee-free, but there are limits in place, depending on the card you've chosen. With the free card, you'll be able to withdraw up to £200 a month, rising to £400 a month for Curve Black and £600 a month for Curve Metal. Fee-free spending abroad is capped at £500 per month with the free Curve card. There's also an extra 0.5% charge at weekends on Euros and Dollars, and 1.5% on other currencies. Black and Metal customers can also benefit from worldwide travel insurance.
  • Account can be set up quickly online.
  • Virtual card on registration and physical card arrives in the post.
  • Link all your different debit and credit cards to your one Curve card.
  • A complete record of your spending over these multiple accounts.
  • Spending categorisation can help you budget and save money.
  • Cashback rewards from retailers.
  • Safe and secure.
  • Compatible with Apple Pay, Google Pay, Samsung Pay and wearable devices.
  • Limits on free spending and withdrawals.
  • Digital company, so no face-to-face customer support.
  • Is a payments service, not a bank account (if that’s what you’re looking for).
  • Section 75 consumer rights don’t apply to purchases made with a Curve card.

Chase - Chase Current Account - Current Account

£0

Min. opening balance

£0

Account fees

0% AER

Interest (AER)

Receive 1% cashback on everyday purchases for 12 months from account opening.
If you open a Chase bank account, you can spend on your card abroad and withdraw cash from a foreign ATM free of charge. Chase uses the Mastercard exchange rate when paying in the local currency, but note that there is a monthly withdrawal limit of £1,500. The account has no monthly maintenance fee and also lets you earn 1% cashback on everyday spending in the UK and abroad for the first year. It also links to a savings account and offers a round-ups feature which rounds up your spending to the nearest pound and saves it in an account paying 5% AER.
  • No monthly account charge
  • No fees for spending or making cash withdrawals abroad
  • 1% cashback on a wide range of purchases
  • 5% interest on savings generated by the “round ups” feature
  • 1.5% interest on balances in the linked Chase saver account
  • 24/7 in-app customer support
  • 1% cashback and 5% interest offers only run for 12 months
  • No branches if you prefer face-to-face banking
  • Can’t deposit cash or cheques into the account
  • Overdrafts not available yet
Interest rate 0% AER
Minimum opening balance £0
Minimum operating balance £0
Switch service guarantee No
Account fee £0
Overseas card transactions 0%
Overseas cash withdrawals 0%

Virgin Money - Club M Account - Age 18 and over

£0.01

Min. opening balance

£14.5 per month

Account fees

2.02% AER

Interest (AER)

Apply online and complete a full current account switch using the Current Account Switch Service to receive 20,000 points.
This account from Virgin Money charges no monthly fee and no fees for using your debit card for purchases or ATM withdrawals in the UK or abroad. It also offers a whole host of useful benefits. For example, interest is paid on credit balances up to £1,000, you'll be able to move money across to a linked savings account, and you'll have access to an arranged overdraft. What's more, the Virgin Money app is packed full of clever tools to help you get better at budgeting, track and tag your transactions, and set up savings pots and goals. You'll also be able to deposit cheques by taking a photo, and you can log into the app using your face or fingerprint.To apply you'll need to be at least 18 years old and have a good credit history.
Representative example: If you use an arranged overdraft of £1,200 you'll be charged interest at 19.9% EAR variable . Account fee of £14.5 per month.
  • Perks such as worldwide travel insurance, gadget insurance and UK breakdown cover
  • No fees for using your card abroad
  • Interest paid on credit balances
  • Exclusive linked savings account
  • Monthly fee applies
  • Interest charged on overdraft
Interest rate 2.02% AER
Minimum opening balance £0.01
Minimum operating balance £0.01
Switch service guarantee Yes
Account fee £14.5 per month
Overseas card transactions £0
Overseas cash withdrawals £0

Monzo

Opening a Monzo account means you'll be able to use your card for fee-free spending overseas. You'll also be able to withdraw cash abroad for free up to a certain monthly limit, depending on the pricing plan you choose. With the free option, you can withdraw up to £250 fee-free on a rolling 30-day basis in the UK and EEA, and £200 in the rest of the world. Anything over this is charged at 3%. If you choose either the Plus or Premium plans, which charge a monthly fee, you will benefit from higher fee-free withdrawal limits. The Premium plan also comes with mobile phone insurance, worldwide travel insurance for you and your family, plus discounted airport lounge access, making it ideal for regular travellers. All plans allow you to put money aside into different savings pots, while both the Plus and Premium plans also pay interest on your balance.
  • Full UK current account – you can do all the stuff you can do with a normal bank and more.
  • Apply quickly from the app without proof of address – you won’t be credit-checked unless you apply for an overdraft.
  • Slick, fun app that is packed with cool features.
  • Spend abroad with no fees at the Mastercard exchange rate.
  • Open a savings account directly from the app with one of the providers Monzo works with.
  • Deposit cash into the account at any store which shows the PayPoint logo.
  • Fully FCA-licensed and FSCS-protected.
  • No bank branches isn’t great for those who prefer face-to-face customer service.
  • 3% charge for overseas ATM withdrawals over £200 – other digital bank accounts (e.g. Starling Bank) have no such charges.

Why use a digital bank for travelling?

Digital banks like Monzo, Revolut, Starling and Monese have all of the same functionality as high street current account, but also usually offer free transactions and withdrawals abroad. More and more young people are turning to these banking apps for their day-to-day banking, as well as benefits such as overseas spending.

There are other dedicated travel money apps like WeSwap, which can be another great solution for travellers. Finally, you have the traditional travel money cards. Use our table to compare them, as well as other popular providers in the space, and find the right card for you.

Using debit and credit cards for overseas spending

When travelling abroad, using a credit or debit card can be a cost effective option to spend money, but there are a couple of factors that will affect how much spending overseas will cost you.

When you use one of these cards overseas, a key part of the cost of that spending is determined by Visa and Mastercard’s own exchange rates. These rates are as close to perfect as it’s possible to get for converting between major currencies.

But whether your particular debit or credit card offers a low-cost way of spending overseas will also depend on your card issuer’s fees on overseas spending. These can vary quite a bit depending on your bank.

For example, Starling Bank current account holders are not charged any foreign transaction fees for spending or withdrawing cash on their debit cards when abroad. By contrast, Barclays charges its debit card holders a 2.99% non-Sterling transaction fee for each foreign transaction and cash withdrawal. This can add up over the course of even a short trip abroad.

Pros and cons of using credit and debit cards

  • Can be cheaper than bureaux de change. Spending abroad using a suitable credit card can save you money when compared to rates offered by bureaux de change and banks.
  • Safer than cash. Cash can get stolen easily. If your credit card is stolen you can report this to your card issuer and they will cancel the card, ensuring you’re not out of pocket. Some card issuers will also offer extra services like travel insurance.
  • Some credit and debit cards will charge for overseas spending. Some banks and card issuers will levy charges and fees for spending when abroad. So it’s vital you check your credit card’s terms and conditions, and if necessary you should switch to a card that offers fee-free international spending.

If you want to find out more about how travel credit cards work and to find the right one for you, head over to our dedicated travel credit cards guide.

What about prepaid cards?

Prepaid cards are another popular solution for travel money. WeSwap doesn’t fall into the same category as the above digital banks. It is worth an honourable mention though. It’s a global travel card and app which you can use in literally any country. It claims it saves up to 90% vs banks and bureaux. Find out more by heading to WeSwap’s site. Sign up today using the button below to load £5 onto your card for free.

Pros and cons of using prepaid travel money cards

  • Can be cheaper than bureaux de change. Spending abroad using a travel money card can save you money when compared to rates offered by bureaux de change and banks.
  • Safer than cash. Cash can get stolen easily. If your travel money card is stolen you can report this to your card issuer and they will cancel the card, ensuring you’re not out of pocket.
  • Protects against exchange rate fluctuations. If you’re able to load money onto the prepaid card in the currency of your choice, you can lock in the exchange rate, meaning you’ll be protected if the pound weakens while you’re abroad.
  • You’ll miss out if the pound strengthens during your trip. Prepaid cards allow you to lock in exchange rates if loading money onto the card in a foreign currency. However, this may be a disadvantage if the pound strengthens while you’re abroad, as you won’t be able to benefit from the increased buying power of your pounds.
  • Some credit and debit cards already offer strong exchange rates. Your existing debit or credit card may already offer a decent exchange rates when compared to other means of obtaining foreign currency or spending while abroad.

Using a credit card

If you want to use a credit card for your overseas spending, you’ll need to choose carefully.

Some credit cards, for example, will charge a foreign transaction fee of between 2.75% and 2.99% for each purchase made. If you also make a cash withdrawal, you could be charged this fee, plus a cash advance fee of around 2.99% on top. In other words, if you withdrew £100, you could be charged a total of £5.98 (£2.99 + £2.99).

Fortunately, there are credit cards designed specifically for overseas use that won’t charge these fees. However, even if your card does not charge foreign usage fees, be warned that most credit cards will still charge interest for cash withdrawals. This applies from the date of the transaction, even if you pay off your balance in full that month, making it a very expensive option.

Should I pay in GBP or local currency?

If a retailer gives you the choice of paying in pound sterling or the local currency, always choose the local currency. Doing so means that the transaction will be converted into sterling at the Mastercard, Visa or Amex own rate.

On the other hand, if you choose pound sterling, the retailer will convert your purchase at their own exchange rate which is usually far worse. This is known as dynamic currency conversion.

The bottom line

Working out the cheapest way to get your hands on money to spend abroad can be tricky, as there are a few factors to bear in mind.

Before checking out new banking apps or prepaid cards, it’s worth checking what kinds of exchange rates your existing credit or debit cards offer on overseas spending. Some top accounts offer as close to perfect rates as it’s possible to get, with few, if any, fees for spending in Euros or US dollars.

However, if your existing accounts charge you fees for spending or withdrawing cash abroad, it’s best to investigate other options for obtaining your travel money. This is where prepaid travel money cards can come in handy.

Some of the digital banking apps mentioned above can also offer great terms on overseas spending. Apps like Revolut allow customers to keep several different currencies in their account at the same time.

Depending on where you’re going, and which app, or card you use, you’re sure to find a great cost-effective way to spend money abroad.
Our tables compare the digital banks everyone is talking about. See how they stack up against each other for spending abroad. Make sure you tick “compare” in the table to get a more detailed view of the products, and if you still want to know more, click “more info” to read our in-depth reviews.

Frequently asked questions

We show offers we can track - that's not every product on the market...yet. Unless we've said otherwise, products are in no particular order. The terms "best", "top", "cheap" (and variations of these) aren't ratings, though we always explain what's great about a product when we highlight it. This is subject to our terms of use. When you make major financial decisions, consider getting independent financial advice. Always consider your own circumstances when you compare products so you get what's right for you.

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