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Got a Halifax or Virgin Money travel credit or debit card you haven't recently used? Check it won't get automatically cancelled

With coronavirus halting travel for many, you might not have used your specialist travel debit or credit card for several years. But Halifax and Virgin Money card holders with upcoming Christmas trips should check if action is needed to keep their accounts open as the lenders will cancel inactive overseas cards. 

It's also worth noting that direct debits from your bank account that you use to pay off the balance on your travel credit card(s) can sometimes be marked 'inactive' if a card hasn't been used in a 13 month period – so if you've not traveled for over a year, check the direct debit is still in place if you're planning to use your card again. 

If you don't already have a travel card, and you've got a holiday planned, check out our Travel credit cards guide for our top-picks, the cards to avoid, and how to check what your current card's charging.

Will my card provider close my account due to inactivity?

Specialist travel credit and debit cards give near-perfect exchange rates worldwide, as well as letting you spend and withdraw cash fee-free - though you'll often pay interest on the latter. Though if you've not used your card recently, it's worth checking to make sure you don't need to take any action to keep it active - though the providers we spoke to said they will always try to warn you first. 

The table below features all of the debit and credit providers we mention in our Travel cards guide. If your travel card provider isn't included, and you're concerned about your card being cancelled, get in touch with it and ask if you need to take any action to keep it active.

Travel card providers' inactivity policies 

Provider and product Does it cancel cards/accounts? (1) When does the provider warn you about this? What can you do to prevent closure?
118 118 Money credit card Awaiting response Awaiting response
Awaiting response
Barclaycard Rewards Yes Varies depending on individual circumstances Contact Barclaycard, respond to the closure warning or use the card
Chase current account No N/A N/A
Currensea No N/A N/A
Cumberland BS Plus account Yes Following multiple underfunding charges on the account Pay in at least £750/mth
Halifax Clarity Yes After 24 months of inactivity - the card is closed 60 days later if no action is taken Contact Halifax, respond to the closure warning or use the card
Monzo current account No N/A N/A
Nationwide FlexPlus Yes After around 15 years of inactivity Contact Nationwide or use the card
NatWest credit card Yes Nine months before the card's expiry date Contact NatWest, respond to the closure warning or use the card
Starling current account No N/A N/A
Virgin Money credit card Yes After between 12 and 36 months of inactivity, depending on the individual Contact Virgin Money, respond to the closure warning or use the card
Virgin Money M Plus account Yes After 12 months of inactivity - the card is closed three months later if no action is taken Contact Virgin Money, respond to the closure warning or use the card
Zopa credit card No N/A N/A

(1) Assumes there is no outstanding balance on the credit card. Or, for debit card based accounts, whether or not the provider closes accounts.

Note that many prepaid card providers also charge an inactivity fee if you don't use your card for a set amount of time - see our Prepaid card warning news story on this for more info. 

Chris Newlands, news and investigations editor at MoneySavingExpert.com said: "Many people will only just be thinking about travelling abroad now for the first time in almost two years and so it's vitally important to make sure your travel credit or debit card is still up to date and active before you go away.

"If you don't, you might get caught out and end up paying far more for your cash withdrawals and overseas transactions than you budgeted for."

What are the best travel credit and debit cards to get right now?

If you're looking for a new travel credit card, there are currently two stand-out options:

  • Barclaycard Rewards. This is our top pick as it charges no fees or interest on overseas spending. Also, with other travel credit cards that don't charge cash withdrawal fees, you'll usually pay daily interest on the withdrawal until you pay it off, but not with this one (as long as you repay the balance each month IN FULL).

    You also get access to a couple of perks – 0.25% cashback on almost all spending, plus five months of free access to Apple Music, Apple Arcade, Apple News+ and/or Apple TV+. Just diarise to cancel after the five months if you don't want to keep paying the subscription fee. This card charges 22.9% rep APR if not repaid each month IN FULL.

  • Halifax Clarity. A long-term top pick as it has great feedback, no fees on overseas spending and low ATM interest. You won't get charged interest on spending abroad as long as you repay the balance IN FULL, but you will if you make cash withdrawals (5p-ish per £100/day) – so try to minimise these. This card charges 19.9% rep APR if not repaid each month IN FULL.

Though with travel credit cards, always follow the golden rule: "Set up a direct debit to repay in full every month, or the interest charges dwarf the cheap-currency gains."

If you'd rather a debit card for use abroad, one option will actually pay you to use it:

  • Chase's current account. This account gives fee-free spending and cash withdrawals worldwide, plus 1% cashback for 12 months. Chase is also a good option if you're unsure whether you'll get the account as it only does a 'soft' credit check to see if it wants you as a customer – so if you don't get it, other lenders won't be able to see you've applied and there'll be no permanent mark on your credit report. 

    Though as this account launched recently, it doesn't yet offer certain features, such as direct debits and Google Pay. You also need to activate the cashback – see how it works.

For more information on travel credit and debit cards, see our full guide.

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