Share this article If you liked this article share it with your friends.

How to Choose the Best Debit Card To Use Abroad

Embarking overseas comes with a checklist as vast as the destinations on offer. Among the essentials, one critical item often under scrutiny is the debit card choice.

Venturing beyond the UK’s shores without the right card in your wallet can transform an otherwise meticulously planned trip into an expensive lesson in hidden fees and unwelcome charges.

In today’s interconnected world, the savvy traveller must be equipped with a debit card to use abroad — one that promises spending without fees and hassle-free cash withdrawals.

This choice of the best cards to use abroad becomes more pertinent in a landscape where foreign transaction fees can quietly chip away at your travel funds.

Whether it’s withdrawing cash to haggle at a local market or securing that idyllic hotel room online, the debit card you use abroad can be the silent guardian of your budget or an unanticipated burden on your expenses.

The pursuit of the best cards to use abroad

The quintessential debit card for global excursions is a financial passport. It unlocks a world of fee-free transactions and favourable exchange rates. Specific benchmarks are non-negotiable to stand out as the best debit card abroad.

The best debit cards exempt you from the dreaded foreign transaction fees often accompanying purchases outside the UK. This feature alone can save travellers significant amounts throughout their journey — whether purchasing in a store or withdrawing cash in ATMs.

Next, we have the matter of exchange rates. A card that offers competitive rates ideally aligned with the interbank rate ensures you’re getting more bang for your buck — or pound, as the case may be.

You’ll want to avoid cards to use abroad that mark up the exchange rate. It is a common but hidden charge that can seriously dent your funds.

Lastly, cash withdrawal perks play a pivotal role. Whether it’s a flat fee, a percentage, or, in the best cases, zero fees for ATM withdrawals, these details determine the ease with which you can access your money abroad.

Additionally, some cards offer rebates on ATM fees, a welcomed bonus for frequent travellers.

An Easier Way: swissmoney App
An Easier Way: swissmoney App
Fiat or crypto, Android or iOS we promise you the best Swiss quality experience.
Get it now

swissmoney: Your alternative passport to fee-free spending

In the quest for the optimal travel money solution, swissmoney is a solid rival to traditional banking options, serving as an alternative method for monetary convenience across borders.

For the modern traveller, managing finances in foreign territories can be as crucial as navigating the cultural landscape. swissmoney’s card steps into this role, offering a secure and economical method of accessing funds.

A critical appeal is its commitment to fee-free spending, allowing tourists and business travellers to transact in the local currency without additional charges. This makes spending overseas with the swissmoney card as seamless as at home.

The swissmoney card’s user-friendly approach to handling foreign currency instils confidence in travellers, ensuring they can focus on their global adventures without fretting over hidden fees or unfavourable exchange rates.

Virgin Money: Broadening your horizons

Venturing abroad with a Virgin Money debit card in your wallet could be likened to travelling with a financially savvy partner. Their proposition? A straightforward promise of fee-free transactions can significantly reduce the cost of spending abroad.

The absence of fees on purchases means that from a Parisian café to a New York diner, cardholders can indulge in local flavours without the aftertaste of extra charges.

But the appeal of Virgin Money goes beyond just spending. They offer additional travel benefits, making their debit card a great choice for any trip. Often these benefits include travel insurance options to ensure safety when travelling in foreign countries.

In addition, Virgin Money often runs exclusive offers and discounts for its customers – the key to unlocking value during travel.

Starling Bank: A sterling choice for travellers

Embracing the ethos of unhindered travel, Starling Bank distinguishes itself with a debit card that is a steadfast ally abroad. A primary benefit for globetrotters is the promise of fee-free spending.

Unlike many high street banks that impose charges for overseas transactions, Starling ensures that spending abroad doesn’t incur additional costs. This feature makes it an attractive option for travellers keen on saving every penny for experiences rather than fees.

Regarding cash withdrawals, Starling Bank continues to uphold its fee-free pledge. Withdrawing cash abroad is often fraught with flat fees or percentage-based charges that can eat into travel budgets.

However, with Starling’s Visa debit card, travellers can access their funds at ATMs without worrying about extra charges, making it a hassle-free option for obtaining local currency.

Whether it’s a dinner in Paris or a souvenir from Rome, Starling’s debit card stands out as a financially savvy choice for travellers seeking to maximise their funds while exploring the world.

Chase Current Account: Revolutionising debit cards use abroad

Chase’s current account is a paragon of spending flexibility for the avid traveller.

The debit card in your account opens the way to an era of simplicity and savings, where zero foreign transaction fees are the norm rather than the exception.

This means that money can be spent abroad without the threat of a shadow of additional fees on every payment or purchase, a move that will resonate with budget-conscious travellers.

Ease of access to cash withdrawals abroad further cements Chase’s position as a travel-friendly option. Travellers can withdraw cash without the anxiety of incurring traditional bank fees, often a significant deterrent for those reliant on cash in countries where digital payments are not as widespread.

Chase has effectively turned the tables on the customary financial burdens of travel, granting its users a liberating sense of financial freedom.

With these features, the Chase current account and its debit card emerge as powerful allies in international travel, streamlining the spending process to ensure a focus on the journey, not the costs.

Currensea Card: The sea change in debit cards abroad use

Currensea offers a compelling proposition – directly linking to your existing bank account, negating the need to preload or transfer funds to a separate travel card.

This integration allows direct debit transactions abroad, leveraging more favourable currency conversion rates than many traditional banks. It acts as an intermediary, providing lower fees and actual exchange rates without the added step of converting money before or during travel.

Using the Currensea card, globetrotters can make overseas purchases as they would at home, with the added advantage of cost-effective currency conversion rates.

This connection to one’s primary account not only simplifies the management of funds when travelling but also introduces a new level of financial efficiency to international spending.

In effect, the Currensea card delivers a sea change in the use of debit cards abroad, allowing travellers to navigate foreign economies with confidence and a lighter financial burden.

A card

A step-by-step guide to using your debit card abroad

Navigating foreign transactions with a debit card need not be daunting if approached with know-how.

From ATM withdrawals to in-store purchases

  1. Notify your bank: Before departure, inform your bank of travel plans to avoid security holds on your card.
  2. Understand your card’s fee structure: Review the fees for international transactions and ATM withdrawals. Look for cards that offer fee-free withdrawals and transactions.
  3. Check network accessibility: Ensure that your card’s network (Visa, MasterCard, etc.) is widely accepted in your destination.
  4. Choose local currency: When withdrawing from ATMs or making in-store purchases, opt to be charged in the local currency to avoid additional conversion fees.
  5. Keep track of your spending: Regularly monitor your account for fraudulent activity and monitor your budget.
  6. Safe ATM practices: Use ATMs in secure locations and be mindful of skimming devices. Cover the keypad when entering your PIN.
  7. Have a backup plan: Carry a secondary form of payment, such as another card or cash, in case your debit card is lost or stolen.

Following these steps, you can utilise your debit card seamlessly and confidently. It ensures a smooth financial experience as you explore the globe.

An Easier Way: swissmoney App
An Easier Way: swissmoney App
Fiat or crypto, Android or iOS we promise you the best Swiss quality experience.
Get it now

Understanding foreign transaction fees and exchange rates

Foreign transaction fees typically contain conversion charges and service costs, ranging from 1% to 3% per transaction.

These fees are levied by banks when a debit card is used outside the country it was issued in, converting the purchase price from the local currency to the cardholder’s home currency.

Choosing the right debit card can help savvy travellers sidestep these fees. Many travel-friendly debit cards offer the perk of fee-free spending, meaning that the card issuer does not charge for currency conversion.

Furthermore, competitive exchange rates are pivotal; some cards provide rates closer to the wholesale exchange rates that banks give each other rather than the less favourable consumer rates.

Understanding the landscape of foreign transaction fees and exchange rates is crucial for an economical travel experience.

By selecting a card designed for international use, travellers can enjoy the convenience of their debit card without the sting of unnecessary fees.

Keeping your money secure on foreign shores

Here are pivotal tips to ensure the safety of your funds during your global adventures:

Use secure connections

Always access your bank account over secure Wi-Fi connections. Public Wi-Fi is a hotbed for data theft.

Secure your PIN

Never write down your PIN or share it with anyone. When typing it in, shield the keypad from onlookers or hidden cameras.

Bank notifications

Activate your bank’s notification services to get instant alerts for all transactions, which can help you quickly spot unauthorised activity.

Opt for chip transactions

Use chip-enabled terminals for your transactions to reduce the risk of card skimming.

Keep emergency contacts handy

Make your bank contact details easily accessible to promptly report lost or stolen cards.

Daily limits

Set a daily cash withdrawal limit to minimise potential losses if your card is misused.

Travel with trusted providers

Consider using debit cards from providers with robust security measures and excellent customer support for international travellers.

Regular checks

Make it a habit to check your bank statements during and after your travel regularly. It helps you ensure all transactions are legitimate.

By incorporating these security practices, you can significantly reduce the risks and enjoy a carefree travel experience.


In summary, the key to hassle-free international travel is to choose your debit card wisely.

We have detailed the offers from institutions such as Starling Bank, swissmoney, Virgin Money, Chase and Currensea. Each offers benefits tailored to the needs of the international traveller. They promise to ease the financial burden of taxes and facilitate currency management.

However, it is important to be aware of transaction fees and exchange rates and follow valuable tips on how to use the card in practice abroad.

We have also stressed the importance of protecting yourself from potential financial pitfalls when you are away from home.

The right debit card transforms from a mere payment instrument into an ally for financially unencumbered travel. With the right choice, travellers can embrace global experiences with confidence and control over their finances.

Renata Pacheco

Renata is a versatile and experienced professional. As a specialist in niche markets like wine, financial, B2B, iGaming, crypto, and trade forex, she navigates and excels in these specialized sectors, becoming an invaluable resource for valuable knowledge.

Get app
We use cookies

swissmoney companies use cookies to provide you with tailored information about our services and to improve the performance of our website and (or) app. If you agree to all cookies used, please click on the "Accept" button. If you wish to change your cookie settings, please click on the "Choose cookies" button, and if you wish to refuse all of these cookies, please click on the "Reject" button. Your cookie preferences will be stored for one year.

Important: Some cookies are essential for the proper functioning of this website. The use of these cookies is based on legitimate interest and therefore consent to their recording is not requested. For more information, see swissmoney Cookie Statement.