Barclaycard launch fee-free travel credit card

28 September 2016, 22:22   By Samantha Smith

BARCLAYCARD have launched a new credit card designed for use abroad, with the Platinum travel card charging no non-sterling transaction fees or cash withdrawal fees until August 31st 2018.

barclaycard platinum
Credit: David Cardinez/

In not charging an upfront fee for foreign cash withdrawals, it joins a very select club including the likes of the Halifax Clarity and MBNA Everyday Plus credit cards.

The card also has a purchase rate of 11.9% per annum (variable), subject to status.

However, those who use it for cash withdrawals abroad and don't pay off the balance in full each month will find that they're charged 27.9% APR variable on that borrowing until it's paid off.

Purchase rates

Barclaycard's new card initially looks like a better deal than the perennial favourite of UK consumer websites, the Halifax Clarity credit card, because it has a lower APR - 11.9% representative (variable) compared to 18.9% representative (variable).

The number one rule when it comes to making credit cards work for us (rather than the other way around) is to pay them off in full every month - but sometimes, despite our best efforts and intentions, that doesn't happen.

In those situations, borrowing is indeed cheaper with the Barclaycard - although it can be beaten when it comes to the rates it charges on cash advances by the Saga Platinum credit card.

That card charges 19.6% APR (variable) on cash withdrawals - and as the table above shows, it's possible to get up to nine months interest free on purchases at present.

Exchange rates

There's another detail about the new Barclaycard that stops it being an instant winner when it comes to foreign transactions, and that's the fact that it's a Visa card.

Most debit and credit card providers use the exchange rates posted by one of three big credit providers - Visa, MasterCard, and American Express - to convert transactions from one currency to another when required.

Exchange rates
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Visa exchange rate tool

The card providers apply the relevant exchange rate as it is at the time they receive the transaction, so an identical purchase may cost more or less on different days, depending how sterling is performing on each of those days.

The general rule of thumb is that the MasterCard exchange rates beat the Visa exchange rates beat the American Express exchange rates (which convert all non-sterling transactions into US dollars before converting them again into sterling).

So while the Barclaycard Platinum Travel card has a lower APR than the Halifax Clarity credit card, transaction for transaction with all else being equal, we'll end up paying a little less with the latter.

Here's a simple example:

Credit card Exchange rate used Transaction amount Cost in sterling*
Barclaycard Platinum Travel credit card Visa €100 £87.16
Halifax Clarity credit card MasterCard €100 £86.75

*Values based on rates in use for transactions processed on September 27th 2016.

This pattern will hold when it comes to making cash withdrawals as well.

Free abroad, but not at home

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Credit cards and cash withdrawals

While cash advances are free at the point of withdrawal abroad, and cardholders can take out up to £500 per day (depending, of course, on their credit limit), they should be wary of trying to do the same thing at home.

Those using the Barclaycard Platinum Travel credit card at an ATM in the UK will find that they'll be charged 2.99% of the value withdrawn to do so, with a minimum fee of £2.99.

And again, if they don't pay off the balance before their statement is due, they'll be charged 27.9% interest from the day of the withdrawal until the day that money is completely paid back.

Finally, while it often pays to shop around for a new credit card every few years, Barclaycard have built in an expiry date for the usefulness of this card.

We applaud them for being upfront in stating that all foreign transactions will incur a 2.99% fee from the end of August 2018, but savvy card holders will plan to get a new card to replace it before that happens.

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