Using Barclaycard abroad

If you're heading overseas and thinking of taking a Barclaycard, find out what charges and exchange rates will apply, and how to keep costs down.

Updated

Model aeroplane positioned on a map alongside a Barclaycard
Whether you already have a Barclaycard or are thinking of getting one, it’s smart to check what fees will apply before you use a Barclaycard for non-sterling transactions. So what should you watch out for?

The potential fees when travelling

  1. Non-sterling transaction fees
    Most Barclaycards are on the Visa network, which is great because if a merchant takes card payments, it probably takes Visa. It also means that currency conversion takes place at Visa’s exchange rates, but depending on the Barclaycard that you use, you’ll be charged a “non-sterling transaction fee” on top of this for each purchase. This is usually a percentage of the amount spent (see table below). Business Barclaycards are issued on the Mastercard network, in which case currency conversion uses Mastercard exchange rates.
  2. Merchant currency conversion fees (DCC)
    If you’re paying at a merchant overseas and they offer to charge your card in pounds rather than in the local currency, that will mean that the merchant’s exchange rates and fees rules will apply, rather than your own card issuer’s. If you’ve carefully selected a card with favourable terms for overseas usage, accepting “dynamic currency conversion” (DCC) risks undoing all your hard work.
  3. Cash advance fees
    As a general rule of thumb, withdrawing cash using a credit card is an expensive choice and best avoided. These transactions can incur a fee, a higher rate of interest and your regular interest-free days each billing cycle may not apply. Some cards which are marketed for overseas use may offer favourable terms on cash advances at ATMs abroad, but don’t forget that even then, the cash machine provider may still charge you for using their machine.
  4. Merchant hidden fees
    These are rare, but still worth looking out for. In some non-EU countries merchants will simply add a percentage-based surcharge when you pay using a credit card. If in doubt, just ask the merchant before you hand over your card.

Barclaycard non-sterling transaction fees

Table: sorted by representative APR, promoted deals first
Data indicated here is updated daily
Name Product Purchases rate Foreign transaction fee Foreign cash transaction fee Interest-free days on foreign transactions Interest-free days on foreign cash transactions Representative example
Barclaycard Platinum 18 Month 0% Purchase and Balance Transfer Visa
0% for 18 months reverting to 20.9%
2.99%
2.99% (min. £2.99)
0 days
0 days
Representative example: When you spend £1,200 at a purchase rate of 20.9% (variable) p.a., your representative rate is 20.9% APR (variable).
Barclaycard Rewards Visa
22.9%
0%
0%
Up to 56 days
Up to 56 days
Representative example: When you spend £1,200 at a purchase rate of 22.9% (variable) p.a., your representative rate is 22.9% APR (variable).
Barclaycard Forward Credit Card Visa
0% for 3 months reverting to 33.9%
2.99%
2.99% (min. £2.99)
0 days
0 days
Representative example: When you spend £1,200 at a purchase rate of 33.9% (variable) p.a., your representative rate is 33.9% APR (variable).
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Here’s a section from a Barclaycard summary box (a card’s “summary box” must be displayed by all card issuers, and it’s often the quickest way to ascertain what rates and fees apply to a particular card).

Section from a Barclaycard summary box Image: Supplied

What about alternatives to Barclaycard?

Table: sorted by representative APR, promoted deals first

If the Barclaycard you have (or are considering) isn’t great for overseas use, you may opt to switch to an alternative credit card, or even 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.

Data indicated here is updated daily
Name Product Purchases rate Foreign transaction fee Foreign cash transaction fee Interest-free days on foreign transactions Interest-free days on foreign cash transactions Representative example
The Royal Bank Credit Card
9.9%
0%
3% (min. £3)
Up to 56 days
0 days
Representative example: When you spend £1,200 at a purchase rate of 9.9% (variable) p.a., your representative rate is 9.9% APR (variable).
Ulster Bank Credit Card Mastercard
9.9%
0%
3% (min. £3)
Up to 56 days
0 days
Representative example: When you spend £1,200 at a purchase rate of 9.9% (variable) p.a., your representative rate is 9.9% APR (variable).
The NatWest Credit Card
9.9%
0%
3% (min. £3)
Up to 56 days
0 days
Representative example: When you spend £1,200 at a purchase rate of 9.9% (variable) p.a., your representative rate is 9.9% APR (variable).
Santander Zero Credit Card Mastercard
0% for 12 months reverting to 18.9%
0%
0%
Up to 56 days
0 days
Representative example: When you spend £1,200 at a purchase rate of 18.9% (variable) p.a., your representative rate is 18.9% APR (variable).
Halifax Clarity Credit Card Mastercard
19.95%
0%
0%
Up to 56 days
0 days
Representative example: When you spend £1,200 at a purchase rate of 19.95% (variable) p.a., your representative rate is 19.9% 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 beware that restrictions and limitations do apply – you can read our full guide to find out more.

Curve

Download Curve and save on bank fees

  • All your cards in one Curve Card
  • Curve works in all the countries that support Mastercard
  • Eliminate hidden bank fees when spending abroad
  • Get 1% instant cashback from a choice of retailers
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