If you’re about to head off for a holiday abroad, it’s a good idea to compare available payment methods in order to avoid hidden charges.
This guide looks at how MBNA credit cards work abroad and tells you which fees you should be prepared for.
The potential fees when travelling
- Non-sterling transaction fees
MBNA’s credit cards are on either the Visa or Mastercard network, which means that you shouldn’t have any problem with having your card accepted abroad. Mastercard’s and Visa’s conversion rates differ slightly from one another, with Mastercard often being a little bit more competitive. You can check and compare the rates online on the Visa and Mastercard websites. Aside from the exchange rate, you also need to consider the fees you’ll be charged by MBNA for every non-sterling transaction, which amount to a percentage of the transaction value (see table below). If you have more than one credit card, it’s worth comparing the non-sterling transaction fees they charge to decide which one offers a better deal abroad.
- Merchant currency conversion fees (DCC)
While shopping abroad, you may sometimes be asked whether you want the card payment to be made in pounds rather than in the local currency. The right answer to that is a polite “no, thanks”. Being charged in pounds means that the merchant is handling the currency conversion, often at a worse rate and with more fees than your credit card company.
- Cash advance fees
No matter if at home or abroad, withdrawing cash with your credit card should be your last resort. Lenders usually charge an extra fee on cash advances and interest-free billing cycles often don’t apply. When you withdraw cash overseas with one of its credit cards, MBNA charges the cash advance fee on top of the non-sterling transaction fee. If you consider that many ATM providers also add their own charge, it’s probably worth considering alternative ways of getting hold of cash while travelling.
- Hidden merchant fees
Despite being less common than they used to be, you can still run into those in some non-EU countries. Sometimes merchants simply charge an extra percentage for credit card payments. Just like merchant currency conversion fees, these have nothing to do with your lender or credit card company, who won’t take responsibility for them. If in doubt, a quick question asked to the cashier before choosing the payment method will only take a few seconds and could save you a few pounds in fees.
MBNA foreign transaction fees
What about alternatives to MBNA?
If the MBNA 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.
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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