When you use your debit card when you’re abroad, to take out cash or pay at a shop or restaurant, you’ll usually see the option to pay in either the local currency or in pounds.
But which one should you choose?
If you use Monzo, paying in the local currency could save you money
When you use your Monzo card abroad, we pass Mastercard’s exchange rate directly onto you. And we don’t add any extra fees or charges when you pay with your card.
To get the Mastercard exchange rate when you’re using Monzo abroad, choose to pay in the local currency. This means we’ll convert your money using the Mastercard exchange rate.
If you pay in pounds, the shop or cash machine will convert your money using their own exchange rate, which could end up costing you more.
How much does it cost to withdraw cash from ATMs?
Travelling within the UK and European Economic Area (EEA)
For all other customers, the fee-free cash withdrawal limit for UK and EEA is £400 every 30 days. We’ll charge 3% on anything you withdraw over your fee-free limit in 30 days.
Travelling outside the UK & EEA
Here’s how fees work for what we often call ‘international’ ATM withdrawal limits.
Monzo customer: £200 fee-free every 30 days (3% afterwards)
Monzo Plus customer: £400 fee-free every 30 days (3% afterwards)
Monzo Premium customer: £600 fee-free every 30 days (3% afterwards)
Find out how much of your fee-free limit you’ve used in the app
Tap on the account you’re interested in from your Home screen and then select the ‘Manage’ toggle. From there, scroll down and you’ll see a button for ‘Limits’.
In there you’ll find information on your fee-free ATM withdrawal limits as well as all your other account limits.
We'll remind you that you could save money by paying in the local currency
If you pay in pounds while you're abroad, we'll let you know that you could save money by paying in the local currency.
This isn't always possible, as it depends on the information we get about your transaction. But when we can, we'll send you a reminder along with your transaction.
If you tap into a transaction you made in pounds while you were abroad, we'll also show you more information about exchange rates, and explain how you could save yourself money when you're abroad.
Why could paying in pounds cost me more?
When you choose to pay in GBP when you're abroad, the shop or cash machine will convert your payment into pounds using a service called ‘dynamic currency conversion’ (DCC).
When they convert your payment, they can choose the exchange rate they use to make the conversion. And in many cases, you’ll end up paying more.
That's because the shop or cash machine and their bank often make money by offering you a worse exchange rate.
Should I always pay in local currency? Even when I use other debit cards or bank accounts?
It’s often best to pay in the local currency to avoid these extra markups, whatever debit card you're using. But it’s worth double-checking.
If you’re using other debit cards abroad, paying in local currency might not necessarily help you get the best rate. It depends on the exchange rate and markups your bank and debit card providers might add. So you should find out what they offer before deciding if paying in the local currency would end up cheaper.
How do I check the exchange rate?
You can see the current Mastercard exchange rates on the Mastercard website:
Open Mastercard’s Currency Conversion Calculator
Choose the currency you want to convert to
Enter a ‘Transaction Amount’ (write ‘1’ if you just want to find out the rate)
Type ‘0.00%’ when you’re asked to enter the ‘Bank Fee’
And choose Great British Pound (GBP) as your ‘Card Currency’
Tap ‘Calculate’ to see the current exchange rate!
When you use Monzo abroad, we’ll convert your money using the Mastercard exchange rate.
Just remember, we'll use the exchange rate at the time the transaction settles (usually a few days after you make it), rather than the one you see at the time you make the transaction. Read this short guide to learn about how transactions work to find out more.