Using a credit card abroad

A credit card can be a great travel buddy, but there are a few key things to know.

Why pack a credit card

You can use your credit card in most countries around the world, much as you would at home in the UK, making it easy to pay for the things you need now and spread the costs over time.

It’s just important to understand any extra costs which could apply to your transactions, increasing the cost of any borrowing.

The cost for using a credit card abroad

If you make a non-Sterling transaction or buy non-Sterling currency, the Mastercard, Visa or American Express foreign exchange rate will apply. You might also be charged credit card fees and interest:

  • Non-Sterling transaction fees – if you’re given the option to pay in Sterling rather than local currency, the retailer might also charge a fee, so make sure you check before you pay.
  • Cash transaction fees – if you withdraw cash from an ATM, or buy foreign currency/a cash equivalent, whether you’re at home or abroad, a cash transaction fee might apply.
  • Credit card interest – to see the interest rates which apply to your credit card, check your account terms and conditions booklet or your latest monthly statement.

Credit card fees in action

For the examples below we’ve used a fictional exchange rate, and assume that the currency is converted from Euros to Sterling. Actual fees and exchange rates may vary, which could affect the cost to you.

A credit card purchase

Transaction amount


Payment scheme exchange rate


Conversion to Sterling


Foreign exchange fee

£2.65 (2.95%)

Cash withdrawal fee


Final statement amount


A credit card cash withdrawal

Transaction amount


Payment scheme exchange rate


Conversion to sterling


Foreign exchange fee

£2.65 (2.95%)

Cash withdrawal fee

£4.49 (5%)

Final statement amount


Choosing which currency to pay in

When using your credit card outside the UK, you might be given the option to transact in Sterling or local currency, so it’s important that you understand the costs in advance.

If you choose to pay in local currency 

  • The Visa, Mastercard or American Express exchange rate on that day will apply. This is usually better than the rate you’d get at a bureau de change or ATM.
  • You might pay a currency conversion fee and, if you withdraw money at an ATM, a cash transaction fee.

If you choose to pay in Sterling 

  • The retailer or ATM operator will convert the currency for you. The exchange rate might not be as competitive as you could expect from a credit card payment scheme provider.
  • In addition to credit card fees, the retailer or ATM provider might charge a service fee.

Things to do before you travel

1. Check if you can use a credit card

There are restrictions on using your credit card in some countries.  You also need to make sure you activate your Halifax credit card. Our guide on how to activate your card is here.

2. Let your card provider know

At Halifax, you don’t need to tell us you’re going abroad, but some providers might ask for notice.

3. Pack a few payment options

Such as a debit card, credit card and local currency. It’s important to keep these secure and, just in case things get lost, only carry what you really need each day. Make sure you know the PIN for your cards. You can view the PIN for your Halifax cards in our app.

4. Check your card expiry date

Make sure your credit card doesn’t run out during your trip. If your Halifax credit card is due to expire within 90 days, you can request a replacement card. Your new card will arrive within 5 working days.

5. Consider setting up a Direct Debit

This could cover your credit card payments automatically while you’re away. At Halifax, we offer a range of payment methods to suit most needs. 

6. Check your contact details are correct

Your credit card provider could call or text you if they are concerned about any activity on your account.  Your cards could be blocked if you are unable to be reached, which would be a bit of a party killer. At Halifax, you can check and update your details in Online Banking or using the Mobile Banking app.

7. Note down useful phone numbers

You might need these in an emergency. Perhaps save them to your mobile.

8. Have you tried the Mobile Banking app?

You can access our services on the go with the Mobile Banking app. Just use the same username and password you use for Online Banking, if you've already registered.

Help from Halifax while you’re abroad

If your Halifax card is lost or stolen

If you're registered for Online Banking, you can report your credit card as lost or stolen online. Alternatively, call us on 
0800 015 1515

If you're outside the UK, call 
+44 (0) 113 242 8196
Speak to an adviser 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Help with Halifax cards or insurance

If you're having difficulty using your Halifax credit card while you’re abroad, you can call
+44 (0) 1733 573 189
Speak to an adviser Mon-Sun, 7am-11pm.

To make a Halifax travel insurance claim, call
+44 (0) 345 124 1400
Or you can make a claim online by accessing your “account benefits”, via your banking app or online banking.

If you've misplaced your Halifax card

If you think you’ve misplaced your card and would like to buy some time to retrace your steps, you might like to try the Card Freezes tool, available in the Halifax Mobile Banking app.

You can also use this feature to freeze different transaction types, giving you more control over how you and other cardholders use your account.

Credit card purchase protection worldwide

Most credit card purchases of over £100 and up to £30,000 are covered by Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act 1974 – including purchases made abroad.

This could protect you if something goes wrong, for example, if your company you book a holiday with goes into administration.

Frequently asked questions on using cards abroad

A summary on using credit cards abroad

When you use your credit card for overseas transactions, interest and fees might apply.

  • So you understand any costs, check your account terms and conditions or latest statement.
  • At Halifax, you don’t need to tell us you’re going abroad, but some providers might ask for notice.
  • It’s worth having a few payment options with you on holiday, just in case of emergencies.
  • Even outside the UK, credit card purchases are covered by Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act.

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