Best travel credit cards for UK travellers

Starting your next trip, be it a short countryside weekend getaway or a journey to distant lands, can be really exciting. Exploring new cultures, trying new foods, and making great memories is a big part of the fun. But, experienced travellers know that having a reliable bank account and bank card can make or break your adventure. In a world where people love saving time and money, picking the best financial partner is a big deal.

Travel credit cards open the door to a wide variety of benefits, ranging from enticing cashback rewards on flights and luxurious hotels to no additional charges when shopping and paying abroad. If you are a traveller from the UK, you can enjoy an additional advantage:  protection under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act. This law adds an extra layer of security to your adventures (we will discuss that in detail later on). 

Join us as we delve into the top travel credit card options available in the UK, helping you maximise your journeys while minimising the costs.


What are travel credit cards

Travel credit cards aren't your typical plastic cards; they can be your travel companions loaded with perks. Before we jump into the best travel credit cards in the UK, let's see what these cards are all about and how they can make your trips better.

You can use travel credit cards just like regular credit cards, but take advantage of their cool features at the same time. For every purchase you make, you get rewards like points or miles. These rewards accumulate over time and can be used to pay for things like flights, hotels, and rental cars. Some of these cards also offer cashback on travel purchases and provide travel insurance. 

There is also an additional perk for UK travellers: travel credit cards are protected by Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act. This extra level of protection acts like a safety net, making sure that your purchases ranging from £100 to £30,000 are kept safe and sound. If the product or service you paid for is faulty or not as described, you can claim a refund or seek compensation from your credit card provider. 

What’s more, you don’t need to prove that the credit card company or the retailer is at fault. Even if the retailer refuses a refund or goes out of business, you can still seek reimbursement from your credit card provider. So what travel credit cards are offering is a worry-free experience even if there are some unexpected unpleasant surprises on the way.


Unlocking the benefits: What travel credit cards have in store for you

Travel credit cards are like having a money-saving sidekick on your adventures. Unlike regular credit and debit cards, specialist travel credit cards are specifically designed for overseas spending. And if you think that you need to be on a plane every other weekend to profit from these cards, don’t fret: they're not just for frequent flyers and even occasional travellers can benefit from their cool features. With the right card, your trips can be more fun and less expensive.

In the next sections, we'll dig deeper into how to pick the best travel credit card, explore the top choices for UK travellers, and help you find the one that best matches your travel style and money goals.

Here are some of the travel benefits that you can get with a travel credit card:

  • No foreign transaction fees: you won’t be charged extra for using your card abroad or for online purchases in a foreign currency and you can get competitive exchange rates when shopping in the local currency.
  • Cashback or rewards points: you can earn money or points for every purchase you make with your card, which you can then redeem for travel-related expenses, such as flights, hotels, car rentals, etc.
  • Travel insurance: you can get cover for things like medical emergencies, trip cancellation, lost luggage, etc. when you book your travel with your card.
  • Companion vouchers: you can get a free or discounted ticket for a companion when you book a flight with your card and meet certain spending requirements.

Keep in mind that these are just some of the perks you can get with travel credit cards. Your benefits will vary depending on the card you pick and who issues it. Our advice is to always check the terms and conditions of each card before applying.


Choosing the right card for you: what to look out for

When you're picking a travel credit card, it's kind of like choosing the right pair of shoes – you want them to fit just right. Here are some things to think about when comparing travel credit cards:

  • Annual Fees: This is the money you pay for the card every year. Some credit cards charge high fees, but in return, come with lots of perks. Others have lower or no annual fees.
  • APR (Annual Percentage Rate): Think of this like the interest rate on a loan. If you don't pay your card balance in full every month, you'll have to pay the interest - some extra money on top of what you owe. Look for cards with lower APRs if you think you might need more time to pay your balance.
  • Rewards: Check what you'll get back for using the card. Some cards give you points or miles for each pound you spend. You can then redeem these points and get free plane tickets, hotel stays, car rental deals, etc. Others offer cashback on certain purchases.
  • Foreign Transaction Fees: Unfortunately, when you use your card abroad, some cards charge foreign transaction fees for each purchase. Look for card issuers which don’t add such extra fees if you travel internationally.
  • Credit Limit: This is the maximum amount you can spend with your card. Make sure it fits your spending habits.

Remember, the best card for you depends on your own needs and how you plan to use it. So, pick one that matches your style and budget.

This leads us to the heart of this article: which travel credit cards stand out in the UK for the perks they offer? Join us as we uncover and compare the top contenders.


Top travel credit cards in the UK

(in alphabetical order)

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold:

this card might be the best for beginners in the travel credit card realm and probably the most useful for travels to the US. The rewards are flexible but the fees are not the lowest.


If you spend £3,000 in the first three months, you can receive a welcome bonus of 25,000 Membership Rewards® points1.

When dining or grocery shopping in the U.S., you can earn 4 points for every £1 spent, and when booking flights directly with airlines or on, you'll earn 3 points for every £1 spent.

You can enjoy annual statement credits of up to $240 for dining, Uber Cash, and Uber Eats purchases.


After the first year, you'll be required to pay a £140 annual fee.

In certain stores or countries, American Express cards might not be widely accepted.

There's a 2.99% foreign transaction fee applied to purchases made outside your home country.

Barclaycard Rewards:

no annual and foreign transaction fees but a high interest rate.


You have the opportunity to earn a 0.25% cashback on all your card spending.

Enjoy the advantage of no fees when you spend or withdraw money abroad.

Receive complimentary Apple subscriptions for up to 5 months.

There is no annual fee to worry about.


Other cards may offer more competitive cashback rates.

A good credit score may be necessary to be eligible for this card.

The charged interest rate with this card is relatively: 22.9% APR (variable). All your purchases, balance transfers, and cash withdrawals might cost you more than you’d like.


British Airways American Express Premium Plus:

this card offers a very special opportunity to let a loved one also benefit from some of its perks - you can earn the British Airways Companion Voucher.


Earning a 25,000 Avios sign-up bonus is possible if you spend £3,000 within the first three months (Avios points are the currency used by British Airways, Aer Lingus, Iberia, Vueling, and Qatar Airways; you can redeem these points in return for various rewards, including flight tickets with the mentioned companies).

The card allows you to collect 1.5 Avios for every £1 spent and 3 Avios for every £1 spent on British Airways flights and holidays.

By spending £10,000 in a year, you can receive a 2-for-1 Companion Voucher, potentially saving up to 150,000 Avios on a premium cabin long-haul redemption.


An annual fee of £250 is required.

Like we already mentioned, American Express is not accepted everywhere. 

A 3% foreign transaction fee applies to purchases made abroad.


Halifax Clarity

- fee-free + no cash withdrawal fees


You can enjoy the benefit of zero fees for spending and withdrawing cash abroad.

With this card your variable interest rate on purchases and balance transfers will not be high: the APR is 9.9%.

With the card being issued on the Mastercard network, it can be used at over 50 million merchant locations across more than 210 countries and territories.


Interest on cash withdrawals starts accruing from the day you make them, even if you pay your balance in full each month.

Qualifying for this card may require a good credit score.

This card may not provide any rewards or cashback for your expenditures.


NatWest Credit Card


When shopping abroad, you won't encounter any non-sterling transaction fees.

The interest rate on purchases with NatWest is quite low: 12.9%. 

Every time you use your card, you accumulate rewards points that can be redeemed for cash, gift cards, or charitable donations.


A 3% fee is charged for cash withdrawals.

When applying for this travel credit card, you'll need a minimum annual income of £10,000.

Some customer reviews suggest that you may not get the best customer service experience with this card.


Virgin Atlantic Reward+ Mastercard:

this card might be the best replacement for when Amex is not accepted. If you are a Virgin Atlantic frequent flyer, it is for sure the most suitable card for you. 


You can earn 1.5 miles for every £1 spent with the card.

A generous bonus of 15,000 miles is awarded when you make your first purchase within 90 days of opening the account.

By spending £10,000 in a year, you can unlock a 2-4-1 voucher that can be used for a cash or miles ticket on Virgin Atlantic.


There is an annual fee of £160 to be paid.

Qualifying for this card may require a good credit score.

Availability of reward seats on Virgin Atlantic flights may be limited.


In conclusion

In the ever-evolving world of travel, where each journey promises diverse and unique experiences, the choice of a travel credit card can make all the difference. From earning rewards on your regular spending to having the added security of Section 75 from the Consumer Credit Act, these cards can really improve your vacation.

Whether you're a frequent explorer or an occasional wanderer, the right travel credit card can ensure a seamless, rewarding, and worry-free trip. So, as you plan your next getaway, remember that with the right card in your pocket, you can become unstoppable!


Disclaimer: The information we provided in this article is only meant to give you general guidance about travel credit cards. Credit card terms and conditions can change over time, so keep in mind that the information here is up to date as of September 2023. 

We encourage you to do your own research and check with credit card companies before you apply for a specific credit card.  All your financial decisions should be backed up with the latest information from official sources for your own peace of mind. We're not promoting any particular credit card company or money product, and the card you choose should match your own money goals, spending habits, and travel preferences.