Can I get cash from a debit card abroad?

When travelling abroad, you probably don’t want to take all of your spending money as cash – and certainly not all in one place.

Although it can make sense to have a stash of cash with you, it’s also smart to be able to get hold of more money or to be able to buy things using a method other than cash too.

The obvious way to do this is with a debit card – but can you use a debit card abroad? The short answer is yes, you can, but there are a few things to keep in mind when planning your next trip.

Should I use a credit card or debit card abroad?

Remember there are important differences between credit cards and debit cards. A credit card spends money you don’t already have, whereas a debit card acts more like a cash card linked directly to your account.

It’s normal to be charged a fee for withdrawing cash using a credit card – and that’s on top of any specific fees for using the card abroad or in a foreign currency.

With a debit card, you’re less likely to be charged a large fee for making a cash withdrawal – there may be a fairly low fixed fee for ATM withdrawals wherever you are, or it might even be fee-free.

Can I use prepaid cash cards abroad?

Using a prepaid currency card abroad is an option, and you can usually buy these in petrol stations, loaded with a certain amount of money – you just pay the equivalent in cash when you buy the card.

You might struggle to get a prepaid cash card in a foreign currency before you leave the UK though, and of course if you buy one when you get to your destination, you’ll need to have the equivalent in cash with you.

Because of this, using a prepaid cash card in a foreign country is a way to get a card if you need one, but it doesn’t really solve the problem of getting your hands on any extra money, other than the cash you already have access to.

You might also have problems when you try to use prepaid currency cards abroad as they are not as widely accepted as the major credit and debit cards are.

What debit cards are accepted abroad?

So if you’ve decided to stick to a major card provider, which debit cards are accepted abroad? The two main options are MasterCard® Debit and Visa Debit, both of which are widely accepted all over the world.

Of course you can also use debit cards to buy online no matter where you are – so you might not need to get your hands on any cash if you are able to pay for the items you need online instead.

With an Arro Personal Account we send you the details of an activated MasterCard® debit card as soon as your new account is created – you get this ‘virtual’ MasterCard® via SMS, with a physical card to follow in the post.

It gives you immediate access to card details you can enter online to make debit card payments, if you need to do so at short notice when you can’t wait for a physical card to arrive.

Foreign cash withdrawals with my debit card

Once your physical MasterCard® debit card arrives, you benefit in several ways when taking it abroad:

  • A debit card widely accepted around the world for card payments.
  • A cash card you can use at foreign ATMs to withdraw foreign currency as cash.
  • No credit card bill – withdrawals come directly from your account.
  • No interest or added charges if your trip takes you past the end of a calendar month.
  • No need to take your entire holiday budget with you as cash.

Just insert your debit card into any standard ATM and you should be able to withdraw cash as normal – many foreign cash machines will default to English when they detect a UK-issued card, but be ready to translate what’s on the screen if not.

There are small additional fees for using your card abroad, so check the updated fees list before you travel, but these are usually much less than you would pay for cash advances from a credit card abroad.

You might even want to set up an Arro Personal Account as a secondary account just for your holiday money – helping you to keep to your budget and protecting your primary account balance in case you lose your card or fall victim to identity fraud while abroad.