Money Mensch: Saga is top for spending abroad

By Martin Lewis, April 15, 2010

The cheapest way to spend abroad is by using the right plastic, it can easily save you £100s on your holiday spend. Yet as it can take up to six weeks from applying to receiving a card, now's the perfect time to get organised in time for summer.

While banks themselves get an unbeatable exchange rate, use your credit and debit cards and they almost always add a 'load' of around 3 per cent, e.g. buy £200 worth of Shekels and you'd pay £206. What's more, many debit cards also add a fee of £1.50 every time you spend.

Yet there are specialist credit cards that don't do this, though do set up a direct debit to repay them in full to mimise the interest. Saga's new credit card (only for over 50s) has re-launched and now matches the Santander Zero as top pick as both are load-free worldwide.

Saga also gives interest free ATM withdrawals, though there's a 2 per cent (£2 minimum) fee , while Santander is fee-free for withdrawals but charges 27.9 per cent APR on them, even if repaid in full (though spend and repay in full and you won't be charged interest). After number crunching, plump for Saga if you make few cash withdrawals or Santander if you'll do them all the time. See for more info.

And finally, if you just want some cheap foreign cash in your pocket, use my comparison site to find who gives you the best deal for any country.

Last updated: 10:31am, April 15 2010