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How to Choose the Best Debit Card To Use Abroad

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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.

📚Related: What’s the Difference Between a Debit Card and a Credit Card?


  • swissmoney Card is a convenient way for travellers interested in cryptocurrency to manage their money internationally.
  • Virgin Money’s Debit Card offers free transactions and extra travel perks like insurance and exclusive deals.
  • Starling Bank Card ensures hassle-free financial experiences abroad with fee-free spending and withdrawals.
  • Chase Current Card prioritizes simplicity and savings for travellers by providing zero foreign transaction fees and easy cash access.
  • Currensea Card directly links to existing bank accounts, offering cost-effective currency conversion rates and efficient international spending.

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.

📚Related: Disadvantages of Using a Debit Card Abroad

swissmoney: Your alternative passport to fee-free spending

swissmoney card

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.

Use the swissmoney payment card to conveniently pay with fiat or crypto anywhere you go:

  • Enjoy limitless card spending without the hassle of wire transfers.
  • Get multiple payment cards for various spending needs.
  • Easily use Google Pay or Apple Pay for smooth contactless spending.
  • Get multiple cards for different spending needs.
  • Get the most out of competitive exchange and transaction fees.

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.

An Easier Way: swissmoney App
An Easier Way: swissmoney App
Fiat or crypto, Android or iOS we promise you the best Swiss quality experience.
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Virgin Money card: Broadening your horizons

Virgin Money card: Broadening your horizons

Travelling abroad with a Virgin Money Mastercard debit card is like having a smart financial companion. Their offer? Simple: fee-free transactions that can save you money when spending internationally.

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. 

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

Starling Bank card: A sterling choice for travellers

Starling Bank card

Starling Bank stands out in the realm of travel with a debit card that’s a reliable companion abroad. One major perk for travellers is the assurance of spending without fees.

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. 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 card: Revolutionising debit cards use abroad

Chase current account card

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 fees for spending abroad 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.

If you decide to pay in the local currency, you’ll receive the exchange rate set by the merchant you’re buying from.

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. However, the ATM operator might charge additional fees.

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.

📚Related: Current Account vs. Savings Account

Currensea Card: The sea change in debit cards abroad use

Currensea Card

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. It lets you spend in 180 currencies without normal bank fees.

Moreover, you can withdraw money abroad for free up to the limit. The limit and any other benefits depend on your plan.


  • All information provided is dated 24 April 2024 and may have been updated since. Please check each platform’s official website for the latest information.

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.

📚Related: What Should You Do Before You Withdraw Money From the ATM?

📚Related: How Much Cash Can You Withdraw from a Bank?

📚Related: Can I Withdraw Money from a Credit Card?

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

📚Related: Are Bank Transfers Safe?

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.

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Renata Pacheco

Renata is a seasoned financial market expert with over 30 years of experience in journalism and content creation, primarily focusing on the financial market. Throughout her extensive career, she has worked with leading financial institutions such as Citibank Brasil, Fiserv in Latin America, and other notable financial entities, further honing her expertise and credibility in the sector.

For more than six years, Renata has also been writing for the crypto market, collaborating with financial publications in Brazil, the US, and Europe. Her deep understanding and extensive knowledge make her a respected voice in the industry, appreciated for her ability to demystify complex financial concepts and market trends. This skill enables her to make financial insights accessible to a wide audience, from novice investors to seasoned professionals.

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Please be advised that the information presented in this article is intended for general informational purposes only. It should not be construed as professional advice from swissmoney. It is important to note that swissmoney does not act as a financial adviser, and individuals are strongly encouraged to seek independent advice from qualified legal, financial, or accounting professionals before making any decisions related to cryptocurrency investments. Furthermore, investing in cryptocurrency assets carries inherent risks, and individuals should be aware that they may potentially lose all of their invested capital.

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