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A Guide to Using Nationwide Debit Card Abroad

Renata Pacheco

Written by

Renata Pacheco

November 30, 2023

In a world where borders are becoming increasingly fluid, the ease of using Nationwide debit cards abroad stands out.

Navigating foreign currency transactions and managing foreign cash withdrawals with a Nationwide card requires a keen understanding to avoid unnecessary expenses.

This article aims to demystify the process of using Nationwide debit cards abroad, focusing on the UK traveller’s needs. We’ll delve into the specifics of handling foreign currency and the nuances of foreign cash withdrawals.

Prepare to embark on your next international journey with the confidence that comes from knowing how to optimise your Nationwide debit card for smart, cost-effective global spending.

Understanding Nationwide debit and credit card features

Nationwide cards, integral to many UK consumers’ wallets, are packed with functionalities tailored for domestic and overseas use.

Nationwide, a prominent name in the UK banking sector, issues these cards under the Visa network, ensuring global acceptance.

The partnership with Visa is particularly beneficial for travellers. Your Nationwide card is not just a tool for transactions within the UK but a passport to seamless spending across borders.

With the Visa logo on your card, you can rest assured of its acceptance in millions of locations worldwide, a key factor when you’re in a foreign country.

Whether dining in a Parisian café, booking a hotel in New York, or shopping in Tokyo, your Nationwide credit card, underpinned by Visa’s extensive network, is a reliable payment method.

The universality of Visa simplifies transactions and often secures you competitive exchange rates, a vital aspect of international finance management.

Contactless payments and security

In an age where speed and security are paramount, Nationwide’s cards offer the convenience of contactless payments.

This feature allows for swift, secure transactions with just a tap of your card – a boon in bustling foreign markets or busy transport hubs where time is of the essence.

Security, a significant concern for travellers, is thoroughly addressed in Nationwide’s cards. They come equipped with advanced security measures designed to protect your financial information.

These include chip and PIN technology, a standard in the UK and widely accepted abroad, adding an extra layer of security to your transactions.

Moreover, Nationwide cards offer fraud protection, ensuring peace of mind when travelling. Should your card be lost or stolen, the bank’s robust security protocols help quickly mitigate any potential financial loss.

Fees associated with using Nationwide cards abroad

When venturing with your Nationwide credit card abroad, understanding the intricacies of managing foreign currency can make all the difference.

Whether dining in Lisbon or shopping in Dubai, foreign currency transactions are a staple of international travel.

For those using a Nationwide credit card abroad, it’s important to note that the non-sterling transaction fee will be one of the main costs to contend with.

This fee is levied on each transaction carried out in a currency other than pounds sterling. Debit card holders may face fees ranging from 2.75% to 2.99%.

On the other hand, credit card users might enjoy lower fees and, in certain instances, none at all.

For travellers making foreign cash withdrawals, the cost dynamics shift slightly. Opting to withdraw cash with a Nationwide card can result in a fee combining a fixed amount with a variable rate tied to the amount withdrawn.

However, when you use a Nationwide credit card to withdraw cash, you typically look at a minimum cash fee plus a percentage of the withdrawal.

It’s pivotal to remember that these charges can stack up. Consequently, it can make the act of withdrawing cash a more costly endeavour than direct card payments for foreign currency expenses.

exchange rate chart

Visa exchange rate

Using your Nationwide credit card abroad also brings you into the realm of the Visa exchange rate. This rate is pivotal in converting from foreign currency to pounds sterling, with Visa offering a generally competitive rate.

However, it’s not quite the mid-market rate — the global benchmark rate for currency transactions.

Visa’s rate includes a slight markup, a common practice amongst financial providers, which, although minimal, can have a more pronounced impact over a succession of foreign currency transactions.

When it comes to using a Nationwide credit card abroad, it’s essential to balance the benefits of convenience and wide acceptance against the potential costs incurred from foreign currency fees and the nuances of the Visa exchange rate.

By staying informed and attentive to these details, you can enjoy the ease of using your Nationwide credit card or debit card abroad while keeping fees in check for a more enjoyable and cost-effective travel experience.

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

Using your Nationwide card for foreign currency expenditures abroad can be seamless with a bit of foresight and planning.

By adhering to these steps, you can efficiently handle foreign currency purchases and optimise your experience with your credit card abroad.

  1. Check card acceptance: Before departure, verify that Visa debit cards are accepted at your destination to ensure you can use your card without hitches. While Visa credit cards are widely recognised globally, some exceptions may apply.
  2. Inform Nationwide of your travel plans: Notifying Nationwide about your travel itinerary can safeguard against your credit card transactions being mistakenly flagged as suspicious.
  3. Understand the fees: Grasp the full spectrum of fees with foreign currency transactions. With a Nationwide credit card, you’re looking at non-sterling transaction fees that vary by card type, which could impact your spending.
  4. Choose local currency: Paying in the local currency can avoid the extra costs of Dynamic Currency Conversion fees, which often have less favourable exchange rates.
  5. Use ATMs wisely: Strategic use of ATMs is key when you need to withdraw cash. Utilise bank-affiliated ATMs and steer clear of those in high-tourist areas to dodge inflated fees.
  6. Monitor your spending: Vigilance with your spending is vital. Track your foreign currency transactions and fees incurred through Nationwide’s digital banking tools. This will help you ensure your financial activities align with your budget and expectations.

By staying informed and proactive about these aspects, you can fully enjoy the benefits of using your Nationwide credit card without unwelcome surprises on your bank statements.

Exploring alternatives for cost-efficient foreign spending

Nationwide cards offer a convenient way to spend abroad. However, exploring alternative options can sometimes lead to more cost-efficient foreign spending.

Let’s examine popular alternatives like Revolut, Starling Bank, and swissmoney, comparing their fees and features with Nationwide cards.


The swissmoney emerges as a great player in travel finance, offering a robust multi-currency platform. The app allows transactions in diverse currencies, often without transaction fees, and competitive exchange rates rivalling market leaders.

With swissmoney, you get a virtual card that works anywhere you go and see a Mastercard sign. However, for now, you can only pay in Euros.


A digital banking alternative gaining popularity among international travellers, Revolut offers a multi-currency account.

One of its main attractions is the ability to hold and exchange multiple currencies at the real exchange rate. It is often more favourable than typical bank rates.

Revolut doesn’t charge a foreign transaction fee for spending abroad and offers free ATM withdrawals up to a specific limit, after which a fee applies.

This can be particularly advantageous for those who travel frequently or transact in various currencies.

📚Related: Using the Revolut Card Abroad: Unlocking Global Finances

Starling Bank

Starling Bank, another digital banking solution, presents a compelling option with its travel-friendly features. While using the Nationwide debit card abroad, you can spend in foreign currencies without transaction fees.

Moreover, it provides access to the Mastercard exchange rate, which is competitive.

Additionally, Starling Bank offers free ATM withdrawals abroad, making it a strong contender for cost-effective international spending.

When comparing these alternatives to Nationwide cards, the primary differences lie in the structure of foreign transaction fees and ATM withdrawal charges.

They tend to offer lower fees for foreign transactions and withdrawals than Nationwide.

However, it’s essential to consider factors like the availability of physical branches, customer service, and the overall banking experience when choosing between Nationwide and these digital alternatives.


In this guide, we’ve dissected the essentials of using Nationwide cards abroad, detailing their features, fees, and security.

We’ve provided actionable advice for managing foreign transactions with your Nationwide card and highlighted alternative financial solutions like Revolut, swissmoney and Starling Bank for potentially lower fees.

Understanding these details empowers you to use Nationwide cards abroad confidently and cost-effectively.

With this knowledge, you can make informed financial decisions on your international journeys. Enjoy your travels with the peace of mind that comes from being well-prepared.


Can I use my Nationwide credit card in any country?

You can use your Nationwide debit or credit card in most countries. They are accepted at any outlet or ATM displaying the Visa logo. However, checking the country’s card acceptance before travelling is always best.

What should I do if my Nationwide card is lost or stolen while I’m abroad?

Immediately report the loss or theft to Nationwide using their 24/7 contact numbers or mobile banking app. They will block your card and discuss options for a replacement or emergency cash.

How can I minimise fees when using my Nationwide card abroad?

To minimise fees, pay in the local currency rather than pounds sterling to avoid Dynamic Currency Conversion (DCC) charges.

Also, try to limit the number of cash withdrawals you make. Also, consider alternatives like Revolut or Starling Bank for potentially lower foreign transaction fees.

Is it better to use a debit or credit card for overseas spending?

This depends on your personal preference and spending habits. Debit cards typically incur lower charges for cash withdrawals, while credit cards may offer benefits like reward points or better fraud protection. Consider the fees and benefits of each before deciding.