Travellers face huge fees for withdrawing cash abroad

Be careful which card you use

Updated: 
Hand of man with credit card, using a ATM

Be careful when using your credit card to withdraw cash abroad: you could be charged as much as £5.30 for taking out just £10.

Figures from MoneySavingExpert.com show that Virgin Money and MBNA are the most expensive providers, charging an eye-watering £39.95 to withdraw £500; but many others aren't much better.

The reason is a triple-whammy on the fees you pay. Most credit card companies charge a 'non-sterling transaction fee' for withdrawing foreign currency of between 2.5 and 2.99%.

However, when you withdraw cash, you'll pay an extra 3-5% ATM fee on top.

And to make things even worse, you'll also pay a much higher interest rate than you do for normal purchases - as much as 27.9-29.9% - with this interest being charged from day one, rather than after the usual 50 to 60 days.

In the case of Virgin Money, there's a 2.99% non-sterling fee plus a 5% ATM - and a £5 minimum makes withdrawing small amounts extremely expensive. MBNA charges the same fees on some cards, minus the £5 minimum. Both charge an interest rate of 27.9%.

However, there is one MBNA card that's much better for withdrawing cash abroad: the Amex Everyday Plus card. In stark contrast to the bank's other offerings, it doesn't charge a non-sterling fee or a cash withdrawal fee and has an APR of just 7.4%.

Creation's Everyday credit card and Halifax's Clarity Card also don't charge for transactions abroad, although their APRs are 12.9% and 18.9% respectively.

However, there's another reason not to use your credit card to withdraw money abroad: it can have a bad effect on your credit score.

"If another lender saw that, it would likely see it as a danger sign. It would probably assume that you're having to make the cash withdrawal because you have no money left in your bank account and are relying on your credit card to pay for essentials," says Helen Saxon of MoneySupermarket.

"If a lender's searching your record because you've applied for a loan and it sees cash withdrawals, it could be a flag that you can't manage your money – and it may question whether you'd be able to pay it back."

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