Cards to use in USA on holiday

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MarathonbillyMarathonbilly Forumite
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I shall be going to USA on holiday later in the year. Is it better to use debit or credit cards and which do you recommend?

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  • zx81zx81 Forumite
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    Any credit card that doesn't charge forex fees, eg Clarity.
  • jon81ukjon81uk Forumite
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    Look for a card with no fees to use abroad, there is some information here Travel credit cards: the best credit cards to use abroad - MSE (moneysavingexpert.com)

    You may need some cash still, particularly for simple tips (a dollar per bag to the bellhop etc).
  • QuestyC3QuestyC3 Forumite
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    For debit cards, I've used a combination of Revolut and Monzo - they don't charge extra for spending overseas and it's easily trackable on their apps!

    In addition for Revolut, you can exchange GBP to USD at an earlier time if the exchange rate is good, then use USD out of your USD wallet. If you go somewhere frequently, this can work out to be quite handy!
  • edited 23 June at 1:31PM
    Neil49Neil49 Forumite
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    edited 23 June at 1:31PM
    The Chase debit card could also be a useful addition (you shouldn't just depend on one card). Like the others listed above it doesn't charge additional fees for overseas use and transactions can be followed on their app. 

    It's big advantage is that it is also fee free for cash withdrawals from Chase ATMs in the USA. Virtually all US banks impose a fee for withdrawing cash so this feature is a bonus.

    For car hire, hotel reservations etc a credit card is essential as these types of business will place a temporary hold on your funds as security for damage or additional hotel spending. If they do this on a debit card then your available balance will drop significantly until they are happy that you have nothing more to pay. 

  • MarchitielloMarchitiello Forumite
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    Neil49 said:
    The Chase debit card could also be a useful addition (you shouldn't just depend on one card). Like the others listed above it doesn't charge additional fees for overseas use and transactions can be followed on their app. 

    It's big advantage is that it is also fee free for cash withdrawals from Chase ATMs in the USA. Virtually all US banks impose a fee for withdrawing cash so this feature is a bonus.

    For car hire, hotel reservations etc a credit card is essential as these types of business will place a temporary hold on your funds as security for damage or additional hotel spending. If they do this on a debit card then your available balance will drop significantly until they are happy that you have nothing more to pay. 

    Completely second Chase! I have used extensively whilst travelling abroad, including California March just gone. The free ATM usage at CHASE USA ATM
    is a USP (unless you have to visit Alaska or Hawaii where there are no Chase branches). In addition, you will earn cashback for the first year on most of your forex spend.

    To also benefit of the cashback with Hotel and Car rental, what I have done is to use a Credit Card (myself have and use Santander Zero for this purpose) at check in / car collection so they can put an hold on it, then at check out /car return, I have asked to swap the card on file to my chase debit card, so they removed the hold from the CC and then charged the full amount to my Chase Debit Card, a win win. Have done this both in Europe and US.
  • sausage_timesausage_time Forumite
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    If you are renting a car and need to buy some "gas", not all pumps use PIN and some ask for a Zip code.  If that's the case you can use the digits from your UK post code for the card address, padded with zeros.  So SW1A 2AA would be 12000.
  • GangaGanga Forumite
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    As said Halifax Clarity and also Santander Zero have no fees for use abroad and give the best exchange rate ,we used both in NewYork and no problems ,we also take some low denomination notes in Dollars for tips etc. 
    ITS NOT EASY TO GET EVERYTHING WRONG ,I HAVE TO WORK HARD TO DO IT!
  • SweetPotatoPieSweetPotatoPie Forumite
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    I always use my Halifax clarity card in US. Take a little bit of cash for tips etc and that’s it.
  • edited 23 June at 11:34PM
    OberothOberoth Forumite
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    edited 23 June at 11:34PM
    Any forex free Visa/Mastercard will do; they might still use swipe or chip and signature in some locations.

    Chase debit cards will be good for US Chase ATMs and Santander Select / Private debit cards for their US ATMs. Wawa gas stations stations usually have a surcharge free ATM with a $200 limit per transaction.
  • MarchitielloMarchitiello Forumite
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    Oberoth said:
    Any forex free Visa/Mastercard will do; they might still use swipe or chip and signature in some locations.

    Chase debit cards will be good for US Chase ATMs and Santander Select / Private debit cards for their US ATMs. Wawa gas stations stations usually have a surcharge free ATM with a $200 limit per transaction.
    Good point on Santander Select, used to be my way to go when visiting NYC. 

    OP, it is important to note that Santander ATM presence is limited to Fire main cities on the east coast, whilst Chase is virtually every where (as noted above with 0 presence only in Alaska and Hawaii)

    Also, generally MasterCard Exchange rate is better then Visa and Amex, so ideally have few options. My travel wallet would include Chase UK MC DC, Santander Zero MC CC, Santander Select MC DC (USA East Coast, South America and Spain only), MBNA Horizon Cashback VISA CC, Barclaycard Rewards VISA CC plus few EU based DC if travelling is specific countries in the EU 
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