Best Travel Credit Cards

The right travel credit card can help you pay for expenses fee-free while abroad, earn miles for free flights, earn points for hotel stays or even withdraw cash from ATMs without penalty. We've looked at the travel cards available in the UK and picked the best ones for different needs. If you want to learn more before choosing a card, see our guides on FX Fees, Cash Withdrawals and Types of Card Rewards.

The guidance on this site is based on our own analysis and is meant to help you identify options and narrow down your choices. We do not advise or tell you which product to buy; undertake your own due diligence before entering into any agreement. Read our full disclosure here.

  • Learning
    How Does a Travel Credit Card Work?
  • Comparing
    Summary of the Best No-Fees Travel Cards
  • Choosing
    How To Pick a No-Fees Travel Card for You

According to our analysis of the market, the following cards stand out as objectively the best for certain purposes. The best card for you will depend on your individual situation and spending patterns. Please use the information in this guide to learn about differences between products and to help you decide which features are most suitable for you.

Best Travel Credit Cards for No Foreign Transaction Fees

If you don't want to pay any fees when you make purchases overseas, a no-fee travel card may be just what you need. Features such as the treatment of cash and interest can vary widely, so be sure a card meets your needs before making a decision. If you're primarily interested in a no-foreign-transaction-fees card, you may want to look at our in-depth article that covers a wider selection of no-fee travel cards, in order to learn more.

Best No-Fees Travel Credit Cards: Barclaycard Rewards Credit Card

Consider this if you don't want to pay fees when you use your card abroad, and you'd like a grace period on foreign cash withdrawals and to earn 0.25% cashback on purchases.
  • Purchase Rate (variable)
    • 22.9%

    The Barclaycard Rewards Credit Card charges no fees on non-sterling cash withdrawals or transactions, making it an ideal travel card. The only aspect of the card to be aware of is that, like most credit cards, interest on cash ATM withdrawals starts accruing immediately. By getting online and paying back your cash withdrawals ASAP (even while you're still abroad), you can mitigate this potential cost. One added bonus of this card is that cardholders earn 0.25% cashback on all of their purchases.

    Summary

    • Earn 0.25% cashback on purchases
    • No fees on non-sterling ATM withdrawals or transactions abroad
    • No interest charges on non-sterling cash withdrawals, if balance paid off in full and on time
    • 22.9% variable cash withdrawal APR
    • Eligibility checker
    • No annual fee

    Halifax Clarity Credit Card

    Consider this if you don't want to pay fees when you use your card abroad.
    • Purchase Rate (variable)
      • 19.9%
      • 0% on Purchases for up to
        • n/a
        • 0% on Balance Transfers for up to
          • n/a
          • Initial Balance Transfer Fee
            • 3%
            • FX Fee
              • none
              • Cash Fee
                • none

                The Halifax Clarity Credit Card is another solid card to use abroad because you won't need to pay a fee for non-sterling transactions (e.g., purchases and cash withdrawals). While ATM withdrawals won't incur a fee, they will be charged interest from the date of a withdrawal. The interest rate on cash withdrawals on this card is lower than average, at 18.9% variable APR. Since interest charges on cash transactions start accruing immediately, it's best to pay back any ATM withdrawals as soon as possible.

                Summary

                • No fees on non-sterling ATM withdrawals or transactions abroad
                • Lower-than-average variable 18.9% interest rate on cash withdrawals
                • Eligibility checker
                • No annual fee

                Best Travel Card for Student and Weak Credit: Aqua Advance Card

                Consider this if you want a credit-builder card to use abroad.
                • Purchase Rate (variable)
                  • 34.9%
                  • 0% on Purchases for up to
                    • n/a
                    • 0% on Balance Transfers for up to
                      • n/a
                      • Initial Balance Transfer Fee
                        • 3%
                        • FX Fee
                          • none
                          • Cash Fee
                            • 5% (min £4)

                            The Aqua Advance Credit Card is a great card for those with poor credit or limited credit to use abroad, as it doesn't charge foreign transaction fees and is also open to applications from students who are not yet employed or those with weak histories. However, due to higher-than-average interest rates starting at 34.9% (variable), Aqua Advance cardholders should try to pay off their full balance every month, on time. Doing so, and staying within your credit limit, may result in the interest rate dropping by 5% a year over three years to a closer-to-average 19.9% (variable).

                            Summary

                            • No fees on foreign transactions
                            • 5% (min £4) fee on cash withdrawals
                            • Higher-than-average initial interest rates (which can drop every year with good behaviour)
                            • 44.9% variable cash APR
                            • 34.9% variable purchase APR
                            • No annual fee

                            Best Travel Credit Cards for Air Rewards

                            In the past few years, the Virgin Black and White, Lloyds Avios, Miles & More and Hilton HHonors credit cards have closed to new applications. That leaves the UK with a shortage of air rewards and hotel rewards credit cards, but perhaps the remaining options can still be valuable to you and suit your travel needs.

                            Virgin Atlantic Reward+ Credit Card

                            Consider this if you want to earn Flying Club miles.
                            • Purchase Rate (variable)
                              • 22.9%
                              • 0% on Purchases for up to
                                • n/a
                                • 0% on Balance Transfers for up to
                                  • 6 months
                                  • Initial Balance Transfer Fee
                                    • 3%
                                    • FX Fee
                                      • 2.99%
                                      • Cash Fee
                                        • 5%

                                        Virgin Atlantic has re-launched their Flying Miles rewards credit cards, and the new Reward and Reward+ cards offer some of the best potential rewards of any credit card. The £160 per year Rewards+ card comes with an easy-to-earn welcome bonus of 15,000 Flying Club miles (potentially worth £150), high rewards rates around 1.5% on general spending, 2x the rewards on qualifying Virgin Atlantic/Holidays spending and the chance to earn perks like Premium upgrades, 2-4-1 Companion Vouchers or even airport lounge access (if you're Gold).

                                        Summary

                                        • 15,000 Flying Club miles upon first purchase within 90 days
                                        • Earn 3 miles per £1 spent with Virgin Flights/Holidays (online or Contact Centres)
                                        • Earn 1.5 miles per £1 spent elsewhere
                                        • Virgin Atlantic Reward (Premium upgrade, 2-4-1 Companion Vouchers or—for Gold members—airport lounge access by spending £10,000 per card year
                                        • Wifi access

                                        Best Air Rewards Travel Card: British Airways American Express Premium Plus Credit Card

                                        Consider this if you want to earn Avios and a 2-4-1 voucher.
                                        • Purchase Rate (variable)
                                          • 24.7%
                                          • 0% on Purchases for up to
                                            • n/a
                                            • 0% on Balance Transfers for up to
                                              • n/a
                                              • Initial Balance Transfer Fee
                                                • 3%
                                                • FX Fee
                                                  • 2.99%
                                                  • Cash Fee
                                                    • 3% (min £3)

                                                    The British Airways American Express Premium Plus card is a solid airlines reward card for frequent BA flyers who spend more than £10,000 a year on their cards (or half that on British Airways purchases) in order to earn the Companion Voucher. Depending on how you redeem your Avios points, you can see rewards rates around 1.5% on everyday spend and 3% on BA flight and Holidays spend. Greater value can be found by redeeming your earned Avios points for Premium Economy to Business upgrades, the sweet spot for Avios. Used in this way, it is sometimes possible to achieve rewards rates topping 6% on your BA purchases, but you'll need to spend more money buying the Premium seat first. But the £250 annual fee means only those spending tens of thousands of pounds are likely to get more value out of this card compared to the free BA Amex card.

                                                    Summary

                                                    • 25,000 Avios welcome bonus
                                                    • Collect 1.5 Avios per £1 spent, and 3 Avios per £1 spent with British Airways or BA Holidays
                                                    • Earn a 2-for-1 Companion Voucher when you spend £10,000 each year
                                                    • Travel accident and Travel inconvenience insurance
                                                    • Annual fee of £250

                                                    Here's How Travel Credit Cards Work

                                                    There are two types of travel credit cards: those for using abroad without fees and those for earning rewards. Unfortunately, there are currently no cards on the market which do both!

                                                    No-Fee Travel Cards

                                                    Most credit cards charge a non-sterling transaction fee on foreign purchases and cash withdrawals (typically 2.99%) PLUS another cash transaction fee (typically 3%, minimum £3 per transaction), which acts as a double whammy on foreign-currency ATM withdrawals. A no-fee travel card can help you avoid paying the non-sterling fee every time you use your card overseas, either to make a purchase or withdraw cash from an ATM. The best no-fee travel cards will also not charge a "cash transaction" fee.

                                                    Rewards Travel Cards

                                                    If you travel enough, you may benefit from an air or hotel rewards card. On these types of cards, each time you spend you'll earn rewards in the form of air miles or points. These rewards accumulate over time and can be redeemed for free or discounted travel or accommodation. Sometimes, by reaching a certain annual spend requirement, you can earn a free companion voucher or a free night stay.

                                                    Summary of Best Travel Credit Cards

                                                    Below is a summary of our top picks for best travel card across different categories.

                                                    Best For...Credit CardQuick Summary
                                                    Overseas Purchases & CashBarclaycard RewardsNo fees on non-sterling transactions but a 2.99% (£2.99) + FX fee on foreign cash withdrawals
                                                    Halifax Clarity Credit CardNo foreign transaction fees on purchases or cash
                                                    Overseas Purchases for Weak CreditAqua Advance Credit CardCash withdrawals will still incur a cash fee and incur interest at a high rate
                                                    Air RewardsBritish Airways American Express Premium PlusPotential to earn 3% on BA spend and over 1.5% elsewhere plus a companion voucher
                                                    Virgin Atlantic Reward+ Credit CardPotential to earn 3% on Virgin Flight and Holiday spend and over 1.5% elsewhere, plus a companion voucher, premium upgrade or possible lounge access

                                                    Assuming Amex Used on 100% of Credit Card Spending

                                                    Total 2-Year Estimated Rewards£25,000 Annual Spend£15,000 Annual Spend
                                                    BA Amex Premium Plus£978£1,455

                                                    Virgin Atlantic Reward+
                                                    £1,004£1,340

                                                    BA Amex
                                                    £952£350

                                                    Virgin Atlantic Reward
                                                    £837£285

                                                    In fact, the Virgin Reward cards might prove to create more day-to-day value, since Mastercards are widely accepted. The BA Amex cards, on the other hand, won't be accepted by many vendors. If we adjust the earnings estimates to reflect this, by assuming Amex can be used for 80% of spend, then the Virgin Reward+ card tops the charts.

                                                    How to Choose a Travel Card

                                                    There is no "best" credit card and choosing a credit card is a very individual decision. The right card for you will depend on your personal financial situation, needs and spending patterns. We give you some concepts to keep in mind when doing your own research.

                                                    To take some confusion out of choosing the right travel card, think of your primary goals for the card. Do you want a travel card to pay for hotels, restaurants, shopping, and other expenses while you're on holiday overseas? Learn more about No Foreign Transaction Fees cards. Do you want a travel card to earn free or discounted flights or hotel stays? Learn more about Airline Rewards cards and Hotel Rewards cards.

                                                    Keep in mind that while air rewards cards may appear to be much more valuable than other rewards cards, realizing these rewards is not always possible. Much of the value on air cards stems from companion vouchers. However, companion vouchers can be difficult to use - seats can be difficult to find on your desired routes and dates, especially if you are flying at peak times. Consequently, companion vouchers may expire before you can redeem them, massively dropping the estimated value of an air rewards card.

                                                    Beyond this, the value of a mile can vary significantly depending on route and cabin class. Poor use of miles can, again, drop the value of an air rewards card. (The same applies to hotel rewards cards.) For our calculations, we have used average values we think a savvy flyer can achieve for their rewards miles. However, the value earned on air (or hotel) rewards cards can vary significantly from one card holder to the next.

                                                    Erin Yurday

                                                    Erin Yurday is the CEO, Co-founder and Editor of NimbleFins. Prior to NimbleFins, she worked as an investment professional and as the finance expert in Stanford University's Graduate School of Business case writing team. Read more on LinkedIn.

                                                    Comments

                                                    The guidance on this site is based on our own analysis and is meant to help you identify options and narrow down your choices. We do not advise or tell you which product to buy; undertake your own due diligence before entering into any agreement. Read our full disclosure here.