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

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, Chase and Revolut all come with low fees when using your debit card abroad.

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

1 - 11 of 11
Name Product Account fee Overseas cash withdrawals Overseas card transactions Switching deals benefits Incentive Link
Finder Award
OFFER
1st Account
Free
0%
0%
tag iconSwitch to first direct and get £175 plus get access to a 7.00% AER/gross Regular Saver Account.
Go to site
Finder Award
OFFER
Current Account - Age 18 and over
Free
£0
£0
Monzo
Free
Europe: UK/EEA - 0% conversion fee plus a cash fee of 0% on up to £400 per 30 days (3% thereafter)
Elsewhere: 0% conversion fee plus a cash fee of 0% on up to £400 per 30 days (3% thereafter)
0%
tag iconMonzo Instant Access Savings Pot earns you 4.10% AER interest (variable), paid monthly into the Pot you create.
Go to site
Current Account
Free
£0.01
0%
tag iconEarn interest on your current account balance.
Go to site
Currensea
Free
0.5% FX rate. 2% FX rate over £500pm
£0 plus flat fee of 0.5% FX rate
Go to site
Barclays Bank Account
Free
£5 monthly fee for Barclays Blue Rewards
2.99%
2.99%
tag iconGet more from your everyday banking with Barclays Blue Rewards, with member deals and savings rates. (Eligibility, conditions and a £5 monthly fee apply).
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OFFER
Everyday Current Account
Free
2.95%
2.95%
tag iconA simple and straightforward current account, with no monthly fee.
Go to site
Bank Account
Free
2.75% conversion fee plus cash fee of 2% (Min £1.75, Max £5)
2.75%
tag iconDiscounts and exclusive offers for dining experiences, leisure activities and shopping available through HSBC home&Away.
Classic
Free
Europe: 2.99% conversion fee plus a cash fee of £1.50.
Elsewhere: 2.99% conversion fee plus a cash fee of £1.50
Europe: 2.99% plus flat fee of £0.50.
Elsewhere: 2.99% plus flat fee of £0.50
tag iconEveryday Offers - Earn up to 15% cashback from selected retailers when shopping with a Bank of Scotland credit or debit card.
FlexAccount
Free
2.99%
2.99%
tag iconEligible for Member Credit Card.
Select Account
Free
2.75%
2.75%
tag iconFree 24/7 Emergency Cash Service to withdraw up to £300 for online and telephone banking customers or £60 if not.
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Finder’s best banks and bank accounts to use abroad in 2024

BankBest forExpert score
StarlingBest for fee free spending & customer service4.7/5
first directBest for fee free spending & added extras4.5/5
ChaseBest for fee free spending & cashback4.4/5
KrooBest for fee free spending & in-credit interest3.9/5

Best for fee free spending & cashback

Chase Current Account - Current Account
Finder score
4 ★★★★★
Read review

£0

Min. opening balance

£0

Account fees

1% AER

Interest (AER)

Receive 1% cashback on everyday debit card purchases capped at £15.
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. The account has no monthly maintenance fee and also lets you earn 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.
  • No monthly account charge
  • No fees from Chase on spending abroad
  • 5% Interest with a round up account
  • 24/7 in-app customer support
  • No branches if you prefer face-to-face banking
  • Can’t deposit cash or cheques into the account
  • Overdrafts not available yet
Minimum opening balance £0
Minimum operating balance £0
Switch service guarantee Yes
Account fee £0
Overseas card transactions 0%
Overseas cash withdrawals 0%

Best for fee free spending & customer service

Current Account - Age 18 and over
Finder score
4.7 ★★★★★
Read review

£0

Min. opening balance

£0

Account fees

3.24% AER

Interest (AER)

Starling has zero fees for spending overseas and was also our winner in the Finder Customer Satisfaction Awards 2023, with 94% of its current account holders saying they would recommend it to a friend. Its app is one of the highest scoring apps in the Apple app store and Google Play Store. Meaning you'll not only benefit from being able to use your card fee free when travelling, but you'll also be able to easily manage your money on the go.
Representative example: If you use an arranged overdraft of £1,200, you'll be charged interest at 15% EAR variable .
  • No monthly-fees
  • 100% digital sign-up
  • 24/7 UK customer support
  • 'Settle up' feature to split joint bills
  • Pays interest on current account balance
  • Overdrafts available (only on personal accounts)
  • Lower ATM withdrawal limit than some other digital challengers
  • No group savings feature
  • Doesn't have a specific monthly budgeting tool
  • No rewards program
Minimum opening balance £0
Minimum operating balance £0.01
Switch service guarantee Yes
Account fee £0
Overseas card transactions £0
Overseas cash withdrawals £0

Best for fee free spending & added extras

1st Account
Finder score
4.4 ★★★★★
Go to site Read review

£0

Min. opening balance

£0

Account fees

0% AER

Interest (AER)

Switch to first direct and get £175 plus get access to a 7.00% AER/gross Regular Saver Account.
first direct has joined the small club of banks that don't charge fees for using a debit card abroad. You'll find that first direct often has a cash bonus in place if you switch your current account to the bank. Plus, as a first direct current account holder, you get access to its Regular Saver, which has one of the most competitive rates available on the market.
  • No monthly fee
  • Easy to apply
  • Access to regular saver account
  • Excellent customer service – 24/7 support
  • FSCS protection
  • Interest-free overdraft is only up to £250
  • No interest paid on in-credit balances
  • Cannot bank in branch
Minimum opening balance £0
Minimum operating balance £0
Switch service guarantee Yes
Account fee £0
Overseas card transactions 0%
Overseas cash withdrawals 0%

Best for fee free spending & in-credit interest

Current Account
Finder score
4 ★★★★★
Go to site Read review

£0

Min. opening balance

£0

Account fees

4.35% AER

Interest (AER)

Earn interest on your current account balance.
While you may be focused on spending when looking for a debit card to use abroad, don't forget that you can also earn interest on the money you aren't spending. Kroo Bank has a competitive in-credit interest rate on current account balances up to £85,000, in addition to fee free spending overseas. Meaning you can save money when using your card on holiday and earn interest on whatever you don't spend.
  • Free to use
  • In-credit interest
  • No fees for using card abroad
  • 2 trees planted for every new customer
  • Can only be accessed through the app
  • No branches or face-to-face support
  • Card can’t be used in certain countries
Minimum opening balance £0
Minimum operating balance £0
Switch service guarantee No
Account fee £0
Overseas card transactions 0%
Overseas cash withdrawals £0.01

How we chose these cards

katesteere profile pic
Kate Steere

Editor

To choose the best card for each category shown above, our experts analysed app ratings, overseas fees, exchange rates, customer service, account access and extra features. In this particular case, these were selected from our list of debit cards that have no fees for being used abroad, not the whole market. If we show any ”promoted” picks, these are based on factors that include special features or offers and the commission we receive. If we show any ”best” picks, there are our banking editor's top picks for different categories and are chosen based on factors that include cost, purpose, rewards and extras. What you need from a debit card is personal, so these picks are just a guide to help you with your decision.

Other reviews of accounts and travel cards you can use abroad

Revolut - Revolut Standard

Revolut Standard
Finder score
4.3 ★★★★★
Read review

£0

Min. opening balance

£0

Account fees

0% AER

Interest (AER)

Get a £20 welcome bonus when you spend your first £20 (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 29 currencies and you'll be able to earn up to 10% cashback when you book accommodation around the world through Revolut Stays.
  • Low overseas fees
  • Quick application
  • Earn cashback on spending
  • Set budgets 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
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 score
4 ★★★★★
Go to site Read review

£0

Min. opening balance

£0

Account fees

0% AER

Interest (AER)

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 Simple plan, smaller allowances apply. 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.
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 3 premium options, Curve X, 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 and Curve X, 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 £1,000 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.

Virgin Money - Club M Account - Age 18 and over

Club M Account - Age 18 and over
Finder score
4.1 ★★★★★
Read review

£0.01

Min. opening balance

£12.5 per month

Account fees

2.02% AER

Interest (AER)

Covers account holder, partner and up to 4 dependent children aged under 18.
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 £12.5 per month.
  • Range of insurance policies included with the account
  • Interest paid on balances
  • Linked savings account
  • Earn cashback at selected retailers
  • No fees for using your card abroad
  • FSCS protection
  • Arranged overdraft available
  • Account fee of £12.50 per month
  • Interest charged on overdraft
  • Interest only paid on balances up to £1,000
  • Breakdown cover only applies in the UK
Minimum opening balance £0.01
Minimum operating balance £0.01
Switch service guarantee Yes
Account fee £12.5 per month
Overseas card transactions £0
Overseas cash withdrawals £0

Monzo - Monzo

Monzo
Finder score
4.6 ★★★★★
Go to site Read review

£0

Min. opening balance

£0

Account fees

0% AER

Interest (AER)

Monzo Instant Access Savings Pot earns you 4.10% AER interest (variable), paid monthly into the Pot you create.
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.
Assumed arranged overdraft of £1,200. Annual interest rate 39.00% variable. Representative 39.0% APR.
  • Easy to set up
  • Good for budgeting and categorising spending
  • Automatic saving feature
  • Fee-free spending abroad
  • Slick app with face login
  • Overdrafts and loans available
  • Free ATM withdrawals outside the EEA limited to £200,
  • £1 fee for depositing cash at PayPoints,
  • Maximum cash deposit of £1,000 every 6 months
  • No rewards program
Minimum opening balance £0
Switch service guarantee Yes
Account fee £0
Overseas card transactions 0%
Overseas cash withdrawals 0%

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 accounts, 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. You can compare overseas fees on popular UK debit cards here.

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. You might even be able to do this within your provider’s app. 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.

Never use a credit card to buy currency at a foreign exchange bureau as this will be treated as a cash withdrawal. This means you could pay a fee as well as interest on that transaction. Using a credit card to load a prepaid travel card with cash might also be counted as a cash withdrawal by some providers, so watch out.”

Rachel Wait, Finder money expert

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.

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. You might also be able to do this within the provider’s app.
  • 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.

Expert analysis: Should I pay in GBP or the local currency when asked?

katesteere profile pic
Kate Steere

Editor

If you're on your hols and your friendly waiter or waitress asks if you want to pay in the local currency or in pounds sterling, always opt for the local currency.

You may think it's easier to pay in pounds as you'll then know what you've spent - but in fact, it'll cost you more money.

If you pay in local currency, your bank or credit card company will work out the currency conversion for you, with fees of around 1%. However, if you pay in pounds, the transaction amount is set at the point of sale - at a rate set by the restaurant or shop. This is a way for shops or restaurants to make some extra money, and rates typically start at an eyewatering 7% on each transaction and could also include extra fees.

Beyond always opting for the local currency, another way to keep your card costs down while abroad is to sign up for a debit/credit card or prepaid card with zero or low overseas fees. Fees are typically around 3% and can eat into your holiday money when you would much rather be eating a croissant.

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.

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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