The Golden Bank Card


Ever wondered how I travel around and not incur ridiculous bank charges without the use of a credit card. How I avoid those cards which charge £1.50 to withdraw and 2.99% transaction fee?

Read on to see what I use and possibly what could work for you.

Side note, I’m not a fan of prepaid travel cards as I don’t believe they help you become a savvy traveller.


Starling Bank

Starling Bank is my number one card, my best friend, my companion and my ride or die.

Starling Bank is an online-only bank which isn’t your standard brick and mortar. In this day and age, when was the last time you physically visited your bank. We do a lot of our online banking including through apps. So, why not keep up with the movement?


  • Does not charge fees for using the card abroad.
  • Does not charge for withdrawing cash from any ATM anywhere in the world (local ATM’s may charge).
  • 24/7 online chat! Yes, 24/7 I have spoken to Starling at 2 am.
  • Unlimited bank transfers.
  • Mastercard exchange rate, which in general is better than Visa’s.
  • There are instant notifications for any activity on your account.
  • There’s a nifty pie chart to see where you’re spending your money, by retailer and category. All those trips to Costa build up quickly.
  • The best part, ultimate control on your card security such as locking online transactions or temporarily blocking your card.


Image by Starling Bank


  • Can only top up £250 a day if you’re using apple pay or your debit card via the app.
  • Can only be managed by the app and not on your laptop.
  • If you lose your card abroad, they send a replacement only to a UK address.

Here’s my referral code if you would like to use Starling Bank. (Skip the queue). NF0S4LS9 

As mentioned before this is my favourite card of all time, it’s one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.

The feature I love the most is instant notifications, for example, a restaurant takes your card away to make payment. Which is sometimes makes you feel uncomfortable, however as soon as they take payment you’re instantly notified. Therefore, if there is a problem, it can be handled there and then.


Image by Starling Bank


Virgin Money – Essential Current Account

I’m aware of Monzo and Revolt, and I am in possession of a Monzo card. However, I wanted to demonstrate the difference between an app-based bank account and a brick-and-mortar.


  • It’s similar to Starling in that they do not charge for using your card abroad. They only charge withdrawal fee from a cashpoint.
  • It is an essential bank account, therefore incurring bank charges are very slim.
  • They also provided MasterCard rates; it used to be Visa, which is a sad as a few countries in South America prefer Visa over Mastercard.


  • There is no banking app the only way to access your account is through your web browser. The account was made this was to focus on what matters the most which are banking. (I would love an app)
  • The website is basic and archaic. Simply, see check your balance, recent transactions and Direct Debits.
  • You can’t set up, change or cancel standing orders and Direct Debits, or make any changes to your account. This will need to be completed in branch or on the telephone.
  • Their contact centre is not 24/7 unless it is to report your card is lost or stolen.

While in Peru I had informed them, I would be abroad; Virgin Money blocked my card. I didn’t realise this had occurred until I tried to use my card to make a payment for food. I tried to contact Virgin money, but unfortunately, the required department was closed. A few long hours later, I spoke to a customer representative and discovered my card had been blocked because Peru was considered a high-risk country. (A lesson in why more than one card is needed).


Credit Cards

Then there are credit cards.

Credit cards for me, i.e. emergency money. Whichever credit card you use, please do your research as the transaction fee is commonly 2.99%. (Unless you get a good deal). At the moment Barclaycard charge 0%.

There are other credit cards which can work for you such as American Express, British Airways and Virgin Atlantic which allow you to accrue air miles with the respective airline.

Whatever you chose, RESEARCH.

I hope this helps and if you have any questions, please feel free to comment or send me an email. 🙂


Note: I have not been endorsed to provide this blog post

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