Travel money and plastic

I’ve spent ages looking into this topic simply because I despise the cost of travel money. At the airport is more expensive and most times, it’s cheaper to order currency before you leave, etc. OK, so everyone knows that but what about credit cards, ATMs, cash advances, fees, foreign transaction fees, conversion rates? Basically getting stung with a bill for extra fees at the end of the month.

So, you do your research and find what you think is the best deal and I not here to sway your findings or opinions. However, I want to share what was important to me, hopefully you can draw you own conclusions and do further research if necessary.

Note – these are only my findings and highlights of what I find interesting or useful. Also, if you fail to pay off your debts in full every month, most of the benefits are minuscule.

What I want

  • Cash (I prefer taking some cash and withdrawing what I need when there)
  • Credit card
  • Debit card or some form of ATM type card
  • Access to internet based banking to view statements, change pins, etc.

What I’ve found that was interesting

  • Pre-loaded credit cards e.g. Post Office offerings
  • 0% on foreign transactions (if you pay in full each month)
  • 0% interest on ATM withdrawal (if you pay in full each month) and no ATM fees
  • No or low currency conversion fees (most credit/debit cards charge a conversion admin fee around 2.5 – 2.99% for non-sterling transactions)

Some of what’s available now

Santander Zero credit cards

  • No fees on foreign transactions (useful if you are using it to purchase)
  • No fees on ATM withdrawals BUT they will charge daily interest on the withdrawn amount & the local bank may charge!
  • 0% balance transfers for 6 months
  • No annual fee

Nationwide debit card

  • Must have a current account with them with min £750 each month being deposited
  • Free European travel insurance
  • 1% fee for ATM withdrawals, excludes any local bank charges like using the Link systems in UK pubs, etc.

Sainsbury’s Gold Credit card

  • No fees on foreign transactions
  • No fees on ATM withdrawals
  • Free annual family travel insurance (you could find better though)
  • £5 monthly fee – although I will use this to offset the ATM charges I would have had to pay for other debit cards.
  • Criteria is based around good credit rating and not income
  • Double Nectar Loyalty card points

American Express Platinum

  • 5% cashback (on your card anniversary) for the 1st 3 months, thereafter 1%
  • Bonus is the cashback if of course you plan to pay it off in full each month
  • I used it to pay for all my normal shopping, etc.
  • On a £500 monthly outgoing budget, cashback was  £25
  • 0% on balance transfers for 6 months

What’s the catch?

On all of these, the benefits are great only if you pay everything off each month! I can’t stress this enough! Of course, they are hoping you are going to spend and get into more debt but if you are wise you can capitalise

What did I go for and why?

American Express

  • The cashback offer is money for nothing because I pay it off in full every month
  • You can choose to have the cashback offer in cash of in vouchers e.g. double the amount in Boots vouchers
  • NB! Not everyone is happy to accept it as they would have you believe

Sainsbury’s Gold Card

  • Instant online decision, sign and return the T&C’s
  • No charges or interest on any ATM withdrawal or transaction local or abroad
  • Will replace the need to withdraw using my normal debit card
  • NB! only helpful if you pay it off in full every month!
  • Buy your flights on credit card, you have cover added for e.g. if an airline goes bust, etc.
  • NB! they charge £5 a month, so if you are travelling and using your card abroad this will be offset.

There are loads more and more coming to market daily, so do your research. is great for keeping track of this.


Sainsbury’s Gold Card

American Express Platinum

Best Top up card

Money Savings Expert

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