Payment by credit card abroad – how much does it really cost?

When going on holiday abroad, we often wonder whether to take cash or pay for food and attractions with a payment card in USD and a currency card. When using the card during the holidays, many Poles wonder what the cost of paying with the card abroad will be.

No matter what form of settlement abroad

No matter what form of settlement abroad

Cash or non-cash – we choose, we always bear the costs associated with it. They can significantly burden our budget, so it’s worth knowing which agents we deal with and what fees should be considered when making payments.

It is worth considering that the fee depends on many factors, including from the card operator, bank or currency we will pay. And also on the length of the trip, the destination location or the frequency of using our holiday funds.

Card payment costs abroad

Card payment costs abroad

Paying abroad is often Russian roulette. Of course, the easiest way is to buy foreign currency at the exchange office and pay in cash. However, when traveling to countries outside the euro area, it is worth having a card with you. The most obvious seems to be the payment card. Today, we can pay with almost any card issued by a Polish bank worldwide.

Everyone who uses the card abroad must know that the additional costs for currency conversion will be calculated. Each card has a billing currency in which it is billed. Most often it is dollars, but there are also cards settled in other currencies – mainly euro and US dollars.

The cost of currency conversion is not only the maximum price of the currency but also the commission charged by the bank where we have an account. Banks charge commissions from their clients for handling such transactions. The amount of commission varies from 3 to 6.5% of the transaction value.

What determines the amount of costs?


Nowadays, cashless transactions, especially abroad, tempt with their convenience and security. In Poland, when we pay by a card or withdraw money from an ATM here, this does not involve any additional fees, unless we decide to withdraw from an ATM other than ours. However, things are different when we want to use the card abroad.

  • Currency conversion – by paying in a foreign currency, at the very beginning the transaction amount is converted to the currency of our card. Banks are also increasingly charging an additional commission for converting a foreign transaction. It is usually a few percents and is deducted from the balance immediately after conversion into USD;
  • Currency buying and selling rate – it is set exactly by each bank. Its purpose is to convert transactions made in currencies other than the Polish dollars. The difference between the buying and selling rates is called currency spread. For the client, the lower the spread, the better. In turn, for the bank, the higher the spread, the higher the profit;
  • Card settlement currency – in payments abroad, not only the currency of the account itself is important, but also the currency, which is determined between the bank and the payment organization, e.g. Visa or MasterCard. Therefore, during a transaction in a foreign currency – the amount is first converted into the card’s accounting currency, at the payment organization’s rate, and then at the bank’s rate. Often this involves double conversion and the same high costs.

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