Don’t forget your toothbrush…or your credit card

A lovely beach
Paradise, yesterday
"there is currently quite a lot of choice in the market for travel-focused credit cards, which are free to use abroad"
  • | by Kristian Dando

Along with your trunks, toothbrush and novelty inflatables (alright, well maybe that’s just us), your credit card should be the first thing you pack for your holidays this year… here’s why.


Holidays tend to cost quite a lot of money, so it makes sense to spread the cost of booking it up. You can do this for free (providing you keep up with repayments within the terms issued by your card provider) with a credit card which offers 0% interest on purchases.

It might also be wise to book your holiday with a credit card if you are travelling independently, without an ATOL-protected travel agent. If holidays or flights go awry, you’ll be afforded protection under the Consumer Credit Act.

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On holiday

Credit cards are great for buying souvenirs, as the Consumer Credit Act will guarantee any purchases which are faulty between £100 and £30,000. However, lots of cards will charge you for being used abroad.

But don’t despair – there is currently quite a lot of choice in the market for travel-focused credit cards, which are free to use abroad.

There’s also the prospect of using cards such as Fluid – which will allow you to transfer money from it to your current account, if you’re dead set on using cash when you’re away.

It’s also possible to rack up rewards when you’re on holiday – providing what you spend is paid off at the end of the month. “American Express are currently offering a £50 cashback deal for spending £2,000 in a month” says Matt Sanders, credit card expert at “That might seem like a lot, but in an average two-week family holiday, it might just be feasible.”

Cards at the premium end of the market may also include annual travel insurance. But make sure that the level of cover provided is sufficient for your needs, particularly if you’re planning on doing any vigorous physical activities (Stop sniggering at the back).

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When you come home

“If you’ve racked up a lot of debt when you’re away, then it might be a good idea to transfer it to a credit card offering 0% interest on balance transfers for a fixed period,” says’s Matt Sanders.

Balance transfer cards usually involve a fee – a small percentage of the debt you’re looking to shift – so make sure that you’ve done your calculations to make sure it’s worth your while.

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Top tips for holiday credit card use

  • Don’t forget to tell your credit card and current account providers that you’re going away. They conduct rigorous anti-fraud checks, and if they spot your card being used abroad they might suspend it thinking that it’s been stolen or cloned
  • Always pay at least the minimum monthly payment by direct debit
  • Consider the impact on your credit score if you make multiple credit applications within a short period of time
  • Consider the APR rate after the low or 0% terms finish and your ability to repay the debt within the introductory period
  • Stay within the terms of use to avoid your provider potentially ending any introductory offers