Using Amex abroad: Guide to fees and charges

If you're planning on using your American Express card abroad to keep earning all those juicy rewards, you'll also want to be aware of the possible costs.

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If you carry an Amex, the more you shop with it, the merrier – so you surely want to bring it overseas with you and use it for your purchases. But how much will you be charged in fees and what should you be aware of?

  1. Non-sterling transaction fees

    Amex converts all foreign currency transactions into US dollars first, and then into pounds. Amex has its own conversion rate – slightly different from Mastercard’s and Visa’s, but the gap usually isn’t huge. Moreover, Amex charges a 2.99% fee for all non-sterling transactions, which will be added to the conversion rate.

  2. Merchant currency conversion fees (DCC)

    When you purchase something abroad using your card, you’re often asked whether you want to pay in the local currency or in pounds. As a rule of thumb, it’s usually better to pick the local currency, and trust your credit card to handle the conversion. Merchant exchange rates are often terrible and there may be extra fees you aren’t aware of – instead, at least you’ll know from the start how much you’ll be charged by Amex.

  3. Cash advance fees

    Generally speaking, withdrawing cash with a credit card isn’t the brightest idea. Most cards will charge you an extra fee, and cash advances usually aren’t granted any interest-free periods. The amount you withdraw will start accruing interest immediately until you clear the debt. Amex is no exception to this. It charges a 3% or £3 fee (whichever is the greatest) on your cash withdrawals, which is to be added to the non-sterling transaction fee. It also says it “will charge interest on all balances that result from cash advances from the date the cash advance is applied to your account irrespective of whether you pay the balance in full”.

  4. Credit card surcharges

    Credit card surcharges have become rarer in Europe, but it’s worth keeping in mind that they do still exist in some countries – merchants may automatically charge you an extra fee for paying with a credit card (and they might not let you know that they’re doing it). If in doubt, ask before deciding how you want to pay.

EU ban on credit card surcharges

In January 2018 the EU required member states to adopt the Payment Service Directive 2 (PSD2). The PSD2 is a ban on card payment surcharges – that’s when a retailer adds a fee because you’re paying using a credit card. However, it’s important to note that there are limitations and exceptions to this rule and there are other fees that may apply when you pay by credit card. If your card is from a non-EU bank, uses a network other than Visa or Mastercard or is a business/corporate card, then the merchant may still levy a surcharge.

American Express foreign transaction fees

Table: sorted by representative APR, promoted deals first
Name Product Rating Finder score Foreign usage charge (EU) Foreign usage charge (rest of world) Purchases Annual/monthly fees Representative APR Link Incentive Representative example
American Express® Rewards Credit Card
Finder score
★★★★★
★★★★★
Expert analysis
2.99%
2.99%
31%
£0
31% APR (variable)
Check eligibility
Earn 1 Membership Rewards® point for every £1 spent thereafter. Earn up to 90,000 bonus points per year through refer a friend, 4,000 points awarded for every friend approved. 1 point = 0.45p (min 1,000 points) to shop, other rewards have differing conversions.
Representative example: When you spend £1,200 at a purchase rate of 31% (variable) p.a., your representative rate is 31% APR (variable).
British Airways American Express® Credit Card
Finder score
★★★★★
★★★★★
Expert analysis
2.99%
2.99%
31%
£0
31% APR (variable)
Check eligibility
Earn 5,000 points when you spend £1,000 within 3 months of account opening. Terms apply. UK 18+, subject to status. Earn 1 Avios for virtually every £1 spent.
Representative example: When you spend £1,200 at a purchase rate of 31% (variable) p.a., your representative rate is 31% APR (variable).
Amex® Cashback Everyday Credit Card
Finder score
★★★★★
★★★★★
Expert analysis
2.99%
2.99%
31%
£0
31% APR (variable)
Check eligibility
New Cardmembers get 5% cashback on your purchases (up to £125) for the first 5 months of Cardmembership. Offer ends 9 April 2024. Terms and minimum spend apply. 18+, subject to status. Terms apply. Spend £0 to £10,000 and receive 0.5% cashback on all purchases. Spend over £10,000 and receive 1% cashback on purchases.
Representative example: When you spend £1,200 at a purchase rate of 31% (variable) p.a., your representative rate is 31% APR (variable).
Amex® Cashback Credit Card
Finder score
★★★★★
★★★★★
Expert analysis
2.99%
2.99%
31%
£25 per annum
36.7% APR (variable)
Check eligibility
Welcome offer: Get 5% cashback on your purchases (up to £125) for the first 3 months of Cardmembership. Terms apply. Spend £0 to £10,000 and receive 0.75% cashback on all purchases. Spend over £10,000 and receive 1.25% cashback on purchases.
Representative example: When you spend £1,200 at a purchase rate of 31% (variable) p.a. with a fee of £25 per annum, your representative rate is 36.7% APR (variable).
American Express® Nectar Credit Card
Finder score
★★★★★
★★★★★
Expert analysis
2.99%
2.99%
31%
Year 1 - £0, Year 2 onwards - £30 per annum
37.8% APR (variable)
Check eligibility
New welcome offer: Earn 20,000 bonus Nectar points when you spend £2,000 in your first 3 months. Earn a minimum of 3 Nectar points for virtually every £1 spent at Nectar partners, and 2 Nectar points for virtually every £1 spent elsewhere.
Representative example: When you spend £1,200 at a purchase rate of 31% (variable) p.a. with a fee of Year 1 - £0, Year 2 onwards - £30 per annum, your representative rate is 37.8% APR (variable).
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Name Product Rating Finder score Foreign usage charge (EU) Foreign usage charge (rest of world) Purchases Annual/monthly fees Representative APR Link Incentive Representative example
American Express Business Gold Card
Finder score
★★★★★
★★★★★
Expert analysis
2.99%
2.99%
Year 1 - £0, Year 2 onwards - £195
N/A (this product is a charge card).
Go to site
Limited time offer: Earn 40,000 points when you spend £6,000 in the first 3 months and a further 20,000 points when you make a purchase 14 months later. Offer ends 9 April 2024. Terms apply.
American Express Business Platinum Card
Finder score
★★★★★
★★★★★
Expert analysis
2.99%
2.99%
£650
N/A (this product is a charge card).
Go to site
Limited time offer: Earn 80,000 points when you spend £12,000 in the first 3 months and a further 40,000 points when you make a purchase 14 months later. Offer ends 9 April 2024. Terms apply.
British Airways American Express® Accelerating Business Card
Finder score
★★★★★
★★★★★
Expert analysis
2.99%
2.99%
28.5%
£250 per annum
108.4% APR (variable)
Go to site
Earn 1.5 Avios for every eligible £1 spent on purchases. Plus, for every £20,000 spent on the card, receive another 10,000 bonus Avios points, up to 3 times per year. Terms apply.
Representative example: When you spend £1,200 at a purchase rate of 28.5% (variable) p.a. with a fee of £250 per annum, your representative rate is 108.4% APR (variable).
 The American Express Business Basic Card
Finder score
★★★★★
★★★★★
Expert analysis
2.99%
2.99%
£0
N/A (this product is a charge card).
Access to tickets for must-see music, theatre and film events, often before they go on sale to the general public with American Express Experiences.
Amazon Business Prime American Express Card
Finder score
★★★★★
★★★★★
Expert analysis
2.99%
2.99%
28.3%
£50. No annual fee for your first year or if you spend £8,000 or more on the Card each year.
39.7% APR (variable)
Earn 2% Amazon Rewards for every £1 spent on selected Amazon purchases and 0.5% Amazon Rewards for every £1 spent on all purchases elsewhere.
Representative example: When you spend £1,200 at a purchase rate of 28.3% (variable) p.a. with a fee of Year 1 - £0, Year 2 onwards - £50 per annum, your representative rate is 39.7% APR (variable).
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What about alternatives to American Express?

Table: sorted by representative APR, promoted deals first

If the Amex card you have (or are considering) isn’t great for overseas use, you may opt to switch to an alternative credit card, or even to take out a second card that you only use when you’re out of the country. Here are some cards with favourable overseas spending terms.

Name Product Rating Finder score Foreign usage charge (EU) Foreign usage charge (rest of world) Purchases Annual/monthly fees Representative APR Link Incentive Representative example
The Royal Bank Credit Card
Finder score
★★★★★
★★★★★
Expert analysis
0%
0%
12.9%
£0
12.9% APR (variable)
Go to site
Representative example: When you spend £1,200 at a purchase rate of 12.9% (variable) p.a., your representative rate is 12.9% APR (variable).
NatWest Credit Card
Finder score
★★★★★
★★★★★
Expert analysis
0%
0%
12.9%
£0
12.9% APR (variable)
Go to site
Representative example: When you spend £1,200 at a purchase rate of 12.9% (variable) p.a., your representative rate is 12.9% APR (variable).
Santander All in One Credit Card
Finder score
★★★★★
★★★★★
Expert analysis
0%
0%
0% for 15 months reverting to 23.9%
£3 per month
29.8% APR (variable)
Check eligibility
0.5% after £1 of monthly spend. Maximum of £10 cashback paid per month. Cashback paid Monthly into Card Account. Maximum spend for cashback purposes is limited to credit limit.
Representative example: When you spend £1,200 at a purchase rate of 23.9% (variable) p.a. with a fee of £3 per month, your representative rate is 29.8% APR (variable).
NatWest Reward Black Credit Card
Finder score
★★★★★
★★★★★
Expert analysis
0%
0%
21.9%
£84 per annum. Reward Black Current Account holders: Year 2 onwards - £0 per annum
40.7% APR (variable)
Go to site
You'll earn 1% back at supermarkets and 0.5% back everywhere else, including supermarket petrol stations. At selected retailers, you could earn 1-15% back.
Representative example: When you spend £1,200 at a purchase rate of 21.9% (variable) p.a. with a fee of £84 per annum. Reward Black Current Account holders: Year 2 onwards - £0 per annum, your representative rate is 40.7% APR (variable).
Royal Bank of Scotland Reward Black Credit Card
Finder score
★★★★★
★★★★★
Expert analysis
0%
0%
21.9%
£84 per annum. Reward Black Current Account holders: £0 per annum
40.7% APR (variable)
Go to site
Earn 1% back at supermarkets and 0.5% back everywhere else, including supermarket petrol stations. At selected retailers, you could earn 1-15% back.
Representative example: When you spend £1,200 at a purchase rate of 21.9% (variable) p.a. with a fee of £84 per annum. Reward Black Current Account holders: £0 per annum, your representative rate is 40.7% APR (variable).
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Some digital banks including Curve and Revolut offer alternative ways to get around fees when paying with plastic abroad.

With Curve, for example, you can control multiple cards from your Curve card and app, and even if your card issuer charges exchange fees, Curve will convert the currency for you at the standard Mastercard exchange rate. Just be aware that restrictions and limitations do apply – you can read our full guide to find out more.

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