Travel Credit Cards – Heathrow Airport Guide
Using a specialist credit card for your holiday spending can be one of the cheapest ways to make transactions while travelling in different countries, but it can also be one of the most expensive if you don’t have one of the cards below.
Credit & Debit Card Benefits
Best cards are cheapest FX possible.
Great online exchange rates
Secure and safer than cash
Section 75 purchase protection on credit cards
Credit & Debit Card Drawbacks
Exchange rate load may be added
Cash withdrawal fees may apply
Interest charges even when paid in full
Some may charge spending penalties
One option is to spend on a card you already have, or if you don’t have one of the recommended cards on Heathrow Airport Guide, then you can apply to try and get one before travelling. This will work out as a cheap, secure and hassle free option and will allow you to spend and withdraw cash in the same way that you do at home with a few extra charges for the privilege of doing so.
You need to be very careful to look at the fees and interest charges that your bank will charge you for your specific card before you start to spend abroad otherwise you could end up forking out a lot more that you want to!
We have researched and compared the best and worst travel credit and debit cards to use below. The card that is best for you will depend on your spending habits, and whether you are someone who pays their balance off in full, want to withdraw cash abroad or spend on your card, and of course whether you have time to apply for one of these cards before leaving home.
We have explained the charges that you might be hit with on our Money Saving Tips
page, to help you make the best decision.
These cards are all meant for application in advance of your trip to, from or through Heathrow Airport, however if you don’t have time to apply for one then you could try getting on of the pre-paid currency cards
or ordering cash
for pick up at Heathrow Airport.
Specialist Travel Credit Cards
If you have one of these credit cards then you are in luck because it will be one of the cheapest ways for you to spend abroad. If you don’t already have one and have enough time to apply for and receive your card before travelling (usually around 4 weeks) then why not apply for one and take advantage of the great exchange rates you will get.
The trick with these cards is to save them for spending abroad only. The providers can offer good rates and charges because they take the chance that you will also spend on the card in the UK where they will make their money back. If you can limit yourself to only using this card while travelling then you will be quids in!
There are of course some changes involved with spending abroad, whichever method you use for getting your foreign currency, but depending on your needs you can cut these down as much as possible with these cards.
The Santander Zero credit card is a great credit card for spending abroad. You get the great exchange rates with no additional load added on for purchases made anywhere in the world.
There are also no ATM fees so you can withdraw cash without being charged too! However, an annual interest charge does apply to cash withdrawals of 27.9% even if you pay your balance off fully within a month. This only works out to around an extra £2 for every £100 withdrawn though, and is still cheaper than other methods of spending abroad.
The Post Office also have a great credit card for using while on holiday. Like Santander they offer 0% loading worldwide on purchases, with no charge for purchases abroad.
Available in three forms to allow you to choose the right one for you; choose from the Matched Card, Balance Transfer Card or the Platinum card, each of which comes with its own perks. Enjoy 0% on balances transfers, an assumed £1,200 credit limit and 18.9% APR.
Nationwide’s allow you to earn commission free cash on your credit card to spend on purchases abroad.
There is a low cash withdrawal fee of 2.5% (min £3). You will need to pay interest on cash withdrawals even if you pay the card off fully at the end of the month. Nationwide are charging 27.9% for this service. This is still a great card and beats many other ways of getting your holiday cash.
- Apply for your Saga card.
- 0% loading in Europe
- No currency conversion fees
- No interest on cash withdrawals
- Section 75 protection
Saga only offers their credit card to the over 50s but if you fall into this age group you could make big savings by using a Saga credit card while spending abroad.
They have low ATM fees, 0% exchange rate loading in Europe and just 1% for worldwide transactions. Best of all, they don’t charge interest for cash withdrawals when you repay your debt in full!
Rewarding Credit Cards
If you are a frequent traveller, you should consider using rewarding credit cards. Most reward credit cards offer a range of travel benefits from travel insurance to air miles.
Here you can find some credit cards with superb travel rewards:
- Get American Express Rewards
- £125 annual fee (£0 in first year)
- No interest charges, just pay off the balance each month
- No pre-set spending limit
- Travel Insurance
The Preferred Rewards Gold Card from American Express is a great choice for people who look for superior travel rewards and benefits when they spend. You can redeem points with a wide range of travel partners, plus earn double points on travel and overseas spend.
Redeem Membership Rewards points directly for airline tickets on hundreds of airlines through the Membership Rewards Travel Agency. Plus, receive two complimentary lounge visits a year at over 350 airport lounges worldwide. The card also comes with built-in purchase protection and travel insurance on all your trips and expenses.
Apply now and get a Preferred Rewards Gold Card completely for free during the first year. Earn 20,000 bonus points when you spend £2,000 in your first 3 months. In addition, earn double points on most spends made while abroad, as well as on petrol and major supermarkets purchases for one year (Terms and Conditions apply).
- Get Virgin Atlantic Rewards
- Double flying club miles
- 10% off Virgin Holidays
- Contactless payments
- Complimentary companion reward flights
One account, two cards, countless adventures. The Virgin Atlantic Black Credit Card Account.
With an American Express® Credit Card and a Visa Credit Card together on one account, the Virgin Atlantic Black Credit Card Account gives you more opportunities to earn Flying Club miles, wherever you are. You’ll earn 2 Flying Club miles for every £1 you spend on the American Express® Credit Card, and 1 Flying Club mile for every £1 you spend on the Visa Credit Card. Plus, you’ll also get disounts with Virgin Holidays.
Representative 52% APR variable and an annual fee of £140.