Managing your money as an expat without a UK address

Published:  6 May at 6 PM
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The recent announcement by Barclaycard that expats without a UK address would have their cards withdrawn has caused consternation across expat havens worldwide.

Some 39,000 British expats worldwide have been using their cards to pay for unexpected expenses such as a stay in hospital, with many overseas private medical facilities refusing to treat foreigners unable to give their credit card details in advance of treatment. Others use them for living expenses, paying off the monthly balance by direct debit from their bank accounts.

Social media comments on Barclaycard’s action range from outrage to desperation, with many stating they have used their cards abroad for years without problems. Others are saying that Barclaycard is dumping them as it doesn’t make enough money from their use of the card.

Options are few and can be difficult to arrange, and offshore accounts with credit cards are the closest as regards service and convenience. However, most applications are reviewed on a case-to-case basis, with proof of address, a copy of your passport proving identity and the necessity of having all copies and translations where necessary certified by a local lawyer.

Even then, applicants can expect refusals dependent on their location in the world, not to mention problems with the availability of translators or English-speaking local lawyers in less usual expat destinations. Often, offshore banks will insist on proof of income, a tricky one if amounts of your cash are lodged in interest-bearing foreign accounts and you’re living off your capital.

Special accounts are usually easier to get, but require entry-level deposited amounts of £20,000 or more before even the consideration of an application including a debit or credit card. For expats who keep their UK current accounts for regular state pension deposits and use their Barclaycard to pay everyday expenses in their host countries, it’s another blow on top of frozen pensions, the cancellation of winter fuel allowances and the threat of losing their personal tax allowances because they live abroad.
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