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Halifax Clarity Card review 2021
If you plan to use your card overseas at merchants and atms, but aren’t so keen on the fees, this popular card has become the go-to. But many people don't realise that non-sterling cash advances won't benefit from the usual "up to 56 days" interest-free.
You say: ★★★★★We say: ★★★★★
Doing its job: 4.5/5
In a nutshell:
Foreign transaction charge
Balance transfer fee
|Issuer||Bank of Scotland|
|Balance transfer fee||0%|
|Purchases interest-free period||Up to 56 days|
|Min credit limit||£0|
|Max credit limit||Not specified|
|Additional cards available||1|
Chris Lilly is a publisher at finder.com. He's a specialist in credit-based products including business and personal loans, mortgages and credit cards, and is passionate about helping UK consumers make informed decisions about their borrowing. In his spare time Chris likes forcing his kids to exercise more.
The Halifax Clarity Credit Card is one of the most popular cards on the market for taking overseas, with zero fees on spending abroad. Cards like the Clarity card use Mastercard currency conversion rates, so as well as swerving the fees, you can rest assured that the charges haven’t simply been hidden in an inflated exchange rate.
If you do opt to take this card away on your next trip, just bear in mind that if you use it to withdraw cash, the local ATM may still charge you a fee. If you’re outside of the EU, some merchants might also levy a surcharge on credit card transactions.
There’s one other important catch to note too: If you withdraw cash overseas, it’ll start to accrue interest from the day the funds leave your account (it won’t benefit from the grace period that applies to regular purchases if you clear your balance in full each month).
If you do opt for the Clarity, whenever you’re presented with the option to pay in the local currency or for the local merchant/bank to convert your funds to the local currency for you, choose to pay in the local currency (otherwise the it will be the local bank or merchant whose currency conversion fee structure will apply, rather than your card issuer’s).
Being a Mastercard, you’ll be able to use it at nearly 53 million locations worldwide. Plus, as a little bonus, you’ll have access to exclusive entertainment and travel experiences through the Mastercard Pricless Cities programme.
If, however, you’re planning to use the card for anything other than overseas spending, there are probably more suitable cards available from both Halifax and other card issuers.
The Halifax Clarity Credit Card is issued on the Mastercard network so it's accepted at nearly 53 million merchants across more than 210 countries and territories.
Pros and cons
- No foreign transaction fees on purchases.
- No cash withdrawal fees when you're abroad (on any other card, this would be one of the worst things you could do).
- No annual fee.
- Cash advances at home or abroad don't benefit from interest-free days (and "cash advances" includes buying foreign currency).
- No 0% introductory offers.
- No rewards.
- Balance transfer fee.
Road test: The Clarity in action
We took the Clarity Card to Paris and spent 100 Euros in one transaction to see if it’s as good as its word. Yes, we know – tough job, but somebody’s got to do it etc.
According to Mastercard’s currency conversion calculator, on that day the exchange rate was .8485 pounds to the Euro. In other words, our €100 lunch should have cost us £84.85.
…and sure enough, when the transaction appeared in the account’s online banking facility moments later, it had indeed been charged at £84.85.
Our waiter never offered to bill us in Sterling. If he had, we would have said no, since we knew Halifax wouldn’t charge forex fees, while the restaurant’s bank might.
The credit card balance was was paid off in full by direct debit shortly after, so the lunch never accrued any interest. All in all, the card delivered on what it promised.
How does it compare with other cards for overseas spending?
With no fees on overseas spending, including currency conversion fees, the Halifax Clarity credit card can be a handy travel companion for those looking for a card to cover everyday spending at home and abroad.
Of course, there are still some fees you’ll need to look out for, such as cash advance and foreign ATM fees, but as a potentially low-cost travel credit card, the Halifax Clarity is a solid pick.
You can make manual repayments through Halifax's app, by logging in to your online banking or over the phone (0345 944 4555). Alternatively you may wish to set up a direct debit.
A direct debit protects you from forgetting to make a repayment and either damaging your credit score, getting hit with a penalty fee (£12) or losing any promotional rates as a result.
You can arrange a direct debit for repayments when you apply for the credit card. The table below shows the options available.
Choose from the following direct debit options for your monthly repayments:
|Minimum amount||Fixed amount||Fixed percentage||Full amount|
How to apply
If you've compared cards and want to apply, completing the secure online application form takes about 15 minutes. Before you apply, check that you meet the eligibility requirements and have the information and documents you'll need to make the process as straightforward as possible.
Frequently asked questions
Do I need to tell Halifax I'm going abroad?
No, this is no longer necessary. You can use any Halifax credit or debit cards worldwide now, without having to give the bank a heads-up beforehand. Halifax does state, however, that you should ensure it has an up to date mobile number to contact you on (in case it's worried about suspicious card use). Always carry a back-up means of payment when you're abroad, and if you need to contact Halifax while you're away, you can call +44 1733 573189.
What does Halifax consider a cash advance?
The term "cash advance" is a catch-all for "cash-like" transactions. Deep in its T&Cs Halifax specifically mentions:
The Clarity's cash advance fee is 0% but you will start paying interest on these transactions from the day they take place – even if you always pay your full balance off each month.