Home Beginner Backpacking Most Useful Travel Cards For Budget Travellers UK

Most Useful Travel Cards For Budget Travellers UK

by Holly Lavender

Finding a travel card that is right for you is so important for going abroad. All the travel cards mentioned have no foreign exchange fee (this means that a 2/3% charge is waived on these particular cards). All the cards mentioned are completely free with no annual fee! These cards are specifically for UK citizens and in my opinion are the best travel cards for budget travellers UK citizens. I have personally used these cards as a solo backpacker and I have included the pros and cons for each card.

Best Debit Cards for International Travel

Chase Bank UK Debit Card

Chase Bank UK is one of the best debit cards to get right now in the UK.

  • You get 1% cashback on all purchases for 1 year
  • A 1.5% savings account linked to your account with no minimum amount (the max is £250,000)
  • There is a 5% interest round up feature so you can maximise on your savings
  • There are no fees when spending abroad (and you get 1% cashback on this too) Chase Bank uses mastercard exchange rate.
  • AND the best part is that it is completely free and you get all these additional benefits above.

Please note that Chase Banks is a digital bank (no stores in the UK). Chase Bank is actually an American bank and do have physical stores there. If you go to the US and withdraw at a Chase Bank there is no fee.

Revolut Travel Card

Revolut is my second choice of travel card, here’s why.

  • Great for use with different currencies. You can set up another virtual account such as Euro or USD within the app.
  • Has a great exchange rate (uses interbank)
  • Do be aware however of the contactless payments. There is an option to turn it off on the app however mine still went through regardless. (this was due to my card being in the same wallet as my Oyster card and I was charged on both cards) I did try and claim it back with proof and they still refused.
  • Although it is free to withdraw £200 or less within a 30 day period, if you want to withdraw more there is a 2% fee.

I love that you can exchange currencies within the app which is great if you are backpacking or staying in a particular country for a long period of time. However, is you are on holiday I personally wouldn’t bother with this feature as you may lose out on changing it back to your original currency. It uses Interbank exchange rate which is one of the best rates out there.

Starling Bank Travel Card

I personally love the Starling bank travel card due to the FREE unlimited withdrawals from ATMs. (please note that sometimes the ATM does charge you and there also may be Mastercard exchange rates)

Starling uses Mastercard exchange rates.

If you use my link above they will plant a tree for free!

Monzo Travel Card

Monzo also uses Mastercard exchange rates and charges a 3% fee for withdrawing over £250 in a 30-day period. It also has recently introduced a £5 fee for a replacement card. I personally don’t use Monzo anymore as I had a mysterious charge on my card which wasn’t in English and they had no idea what it was when I queried it. (I didn’t get notified either) so I personally don’t trust them.

However, some of my friends use them and have had no problems which is why it is mentioned in this article.

Please note: Chase Bank UK, Revolut, Starling and Monzo are all virtual banks (there is no physical branch) I personally would get at least one of these as they are the best travel cards to use in the UK in my opinion. These banks are great for travellers for the following reasons.

  • All these banks have apps where they track everything you spend and even categorise them. If you want to know what you are spending these banks are great. (I soon realised how much I was spending on food very quickly)
  • If you lose your card you can freeze your card on the app.
  • There is 24/7 customer service featured on the app so if you do need help it is there.
  • You can add it on apple/andriod pay for easiness however some countries have not got this feature (yet..)
  • The split the bill feature is super handy when you are eating with your friends. One person simply pays and then adds how much each person owes and it automatically takes it out their account. (Please note that is only done through one app eg Revolut to Revolut and Monzo to Monzo. If someone has Revolut and one has Monzo this feature will not work.)
  • Instantly get notified whenever you spend which includes how much it costs in the local currency as well as your home currency. eg say you spend $2 it will also say £1.47 so you will know the current exchange rate at that time.
best travel cards for budget travellers in the UK
Three debit travel cards, Starling Bank, Revolut Bank and Monzo Bank

Best Credit Cards for International Travel

Halifax Travel Credit Card

Also known as the Halifax Clarity Card.

I got the Halifax credit card for the no foreign exchange fee and the fact that it is one of the only ones with a physical bank. Having a current account with them was super handy when paying my credit card bill as I just set up a direct debit and it did it automatically. I believe this to be the easiest way as you don’t have to worry about anything. (just as long as you actually have the money in your account and you don’t go into your overdraft)

There is also worldwide fee-free cash withdrawals HOWEVER, you will be charged interest on a daily basis until it is paid off. In my opinion, I wouldn’t use this card to withdraw money as the other cards I’ve mentioned above are better.

Aqua (Advance Credit Card)

Sadly the Aqua rewards (mentioned on my YouTube video) no longer exist however there is an Aqua Advance credit card that is the same but doesn’t offer any cashback on purchases, it still has no extra fees when you spend abroad.

Barclays (Rewards Credit Card)

The Barclays rewards Credit Card has the following benefits:

  • 0.25% cashback on new purchases (abroad or in the uk)
  • No Fees Abroad – able to withdraw and cash or purchase any items with no foreign exchange fee (uses visa’s exchange rate)

Santander (Zero Credit Card)

  • No foreign exchange fee
  • No interest on all purchases for 12 months from opening an account
  • Able to earn up to 15% cashback from certain retail providers.

Top Tip – I would highly advise getting at least two of these cards and keeping them in separate places. This is in case of loss or theft, believe me, you will be thankful that you have another card that you can use on your travels.

I hope you have found this article on the most useful travel cards for budget travellers UK edition. Finding the right card for you is vital if you are travelling. I would research all of these cards to find the best one for you.

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