The best credit cards to take on winter sun holidays

Heading for somewhere warm this winter? You might want to pack one of these.

The best credit cards to take on winter sun holidays

If you're jetting off for some winter sun you might be considering how to pay for any purchases you make while you're abroad.

The problem is that many debit and credit cards charge you for the privilege of withdrawing cash or paying for items when you're overseas. So how can you get around this?

Fortunately, there are a handful of cards that allow you to use them abroad without charging you rip-off fees. Bear in mind that the exchange rate that each one offers will be different and you might want to take that into consideration when you're comparing.

The big benefit of using a credit card is any purchases you make over £100 are covered if they turn out to be faulty or damaged by Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act. This means you can claim compensation either from the merchant or your credit card provider.

You'll also be better protected in the unfortunate event that your card is fraudulently used.

Let's take a closer look at the cards that don't charge you for using them abroad.

Post Office Platinum

The Post Office Platinum credit card won't charge you a fee for any purchases you make overseas using your card. This is also the case if you make any online transactions from home in a foreign currency.

You can also avoid a cash advance fee when using the credit card to order currency or travellers cheques with the Post Office. You need to pay it off straight away to avoid being hit with interest charges of 27.9%.

The card also comes with a three months 0% on purchases and a 22-month interest-free period on balance transfers with no fee if you make a transfer within 90 days. However, be warned that after these introductory periods you will be charged a representative APR of at least 17.8%.

Halifax Clarity

The Halifax Clarity card won't charge you for purchases anywhere in the world.

If you make any cash withdrawals, you won't be charged a fee but you will be charged interest at 18.9% from the date the withdrawal is made – so you should still avoid using this card at an ATM if at all possible.

This card has a representative APR of 18.9%.

Santander All In One and Zero

The Santander All In One credit card is fee free to use abroad and also pays 0.5% cashback on all of your spending. However, the card does have a monthly fee of £3.

The Santander Zero card doesn't have a fee though and also offers fee-free spending around the world so is a better bet if you don't spend much on your credit card.

Aqua Advance MasterCard

The aqua Advance card is also designed for people with a less than perfect credit rating, but is also a very good piece of plastic for taking abroad as there are no fees for foreign purchases.

However, as it a card aimed at people looking to rebuild their credit score, it comes with a very hefty representative APR of 34.9% – so make sure you pay off your balance in full each month.

Going away? Don't forget your travel insurance – compare policies here

Saga Platinum credit card

If you're aged 50 or over, the Saga Platinum credit card will also let you sidestep foreign currency fees when you use your card for spending overseas. There's also nine months of interest-free spending and balance transfers (3% fee) with this card. Just bear in mind that after this point, you'll be charged interest of at least 11.9%.

Unlike the majority of credit cards, with the Saga Platinum credit card you'll also benefit from 55 days interest-free on cash withdrawals – meaning that if you do take out money from an ATM abroad, you won't be charged interest providing you clear your balance within 55 days.

If you don't clear your balance within this period, the interest rate jumps to 19.6% and this will be charged from the date you withdraw your money – so don't get caught out! You should also bear in mind there is a 2% fee (minimum £2) for withdrawing cash on your credit card.

Nationwide credit card

If you're a new customer, the Nationwide credit card allows you to build up an allowance for spending overseas every time you make a purchase in sterling. So for every £5 you spend in sterling, you'll be rewarded with £1 to spend overseas.

The allowance you've earned will appear on your statement each month and there's no limit to how much you can build up. What's more, if you don't use your overseas spending allowance in the first year, you can carry it over.

If you spend more than your allowance when you're on holiday, you'll be charged a 2% commission fee.

You can also enjoy up to 12 months interest-free spending or opt for 12 months 0% on balance transfers with no fee to pay if you make a transfer within three months. Just make sure you pay off your balance in full before the introductory period ends as the representative APR is 17.9%.

Nationwide Select credit card

If you have a Nationwide FlexDirect current account, Flex Account (extra conditions apply) or FlexPlus account, you're eligible for the Nationwide Select credit card.

This card offers commission-free purchases abroad plus 0.5% cashback on all sterling purchases.

It also offers 12 months interest free on purchases as well as 12 months 0% on balance transfers with no fee to pay if you make a transfer within three months. The representative APR is 15.9%.

Lloyds Bank Avios Rewards credit card

The Lloyds Bank Avios Rewards credit card account comes with an American Express and MasterCard card to earn Avios with.

You can earn 1.25 Avios for every £1 spent on the Amex and 1.25 Avios for every £5 spent on the MasterCard.

But another major perk of the account is that there are no foreign transaction fees on spending on either card, so you can build up points wherever you are in the world.

You can also get 0% on purchases and balance transfers (3% fee) for 24 months. After this introductory period, you will be charged 18.94% on your balance so make sure you clear it in time.

The card attracts a £24 annual fee, so the overall representative APR of this card is 23.7%.

Lloyds Bank Premier Avios Rewards credit card

For a bigger fee of £140 a year you can get double the benefits with the Lloyds Bank Premier Avios Rewards credit card.

This card allows you to earn 1.5 Avios for every £1 spent on the Amex and 1.5 Avios for every £5 spent on the MasterCard.

The card also allows you to spend anywhere in the world without any foreign transaction fees to pay.

Plus, there's also 24 months 0% on purchases and balance transfers (3% fee). After this time interest is charged at 18.94%.

With the fee factored in the overall representative APR on this card is 52.1%.

How they compare to debit cards

Cumberland Building Society, Metro Bank and Norwich & Peterborough Building Society (now closed to new customers) offer accounts with debit cards that offer fee-free spending abroad, although Metro Bank now limits it to Europe only.

Virgin Money's Essential current account offers fee-free debit card purchases but charges £1.50 per cash withdrawal. Several other high street banks also don't charge fees for cash withdrawals in certain countries.

Compare credit cards that don't charge for overseas use