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How to use your card outside the U.S.

Taking your cards with you when you travel outside the U.S. means you won't have to rely solely on cash.

You can use your card outside the U.S. as you would at home:

  • to withdraw money
  • in cafes, bars and restaurants
  • in shops

However, there may be some fees and charges to be aware of when using a credit or debit card on international trips.

What are the charges for using a card outside the U.S.?


The important fee to look out for is a foreign transaction fee, which is typically a percentage of the value of the transaction.

Unlike other credit cards that may charge foreign transaction fees, our HSBC Premier[@PremWorldMcardIssue] and HSBC Elite Mastercard® [@EliteWorldMcardIssue] credit cards have no foreign transaction fees. 

If you are a HSBC Debit Mastercard® user, the foreign transaction amount may be increased by a percentage dictated by HSBC and this percentage is subject to change. So, be sure to check what the current percentage fee is before you use your Debit Mastercard® outside the U.S..

But, if you are a Premier World Debit Mastercard® holder, you will not be charged a foreign transaction fee.

Cash fee

If you use your card to withdraw money from an ATM, there's often a separate fee on top of the one for converting currency.

If you are a Credit Card or Debit Mastercard® holder with HSBC, you will not be charged by us for withdrawing money from an ATM outside the U.S..

But, some ATM operators and networks apply a fee for using their ATMs, so you should check to see whether an ATM charges a fee before you use it. Keep in mind that you will need a PIN to use an ATM, and to make some purchases.

Interest charge

If you use your credit card to withdraw cash, or pay for things outside the U.S., interest charges will apply in the same way they do at home.

Will fees appear on your statement?

Your bank statement will show a breakdown of all your transactions, including those made outside the U.S., and any charges.

If you'd like to keep track of how much you're spending by seeing a breakdown of your transactions, you can view your HSBC statements through online banking.

What happens if you want to use cash?

If you prefer to go old-school and use cash while travelling, here's what you should know.

Taking travel money with you has its benefits:

  • it's more convenient as you won't have to worry about finding a cash machine or converting your dollars when you arrive
  • it makes for easier budgeting, as you go in with a set amount and because you've already converted all of your money, there are no further fees to pay when using your money outside the U.S.

But it also has its downsides:

  • carrying a lot of cash around with you can be risky. So, if you're going to take cash, try to use a safety deposit box. That way you don't have to carry all of your money around with you every day. Also, ensure that your travel insurance covers the amount of cash you take
  • you also run the risk of running out of cash sooner than you expected, as it can be difficult to stick to a budget when overseas with unforeseen costs

Try using a mixture of cards and cash

It may be a good idea to use a mix of cards and cash when outside the U.S.. Then you'll have cash on hand as soon as you arrive, but with the added security of a card for when you're out and about.

Explore more

Find out whether you should pay in local currency or dollars when overseas.
Learn how to send money overseas safely and securely.
Plan your move away from the U.S. with this checklist of things to do before you go.


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