WHAT’S THE BEST CARD TO USE WHILE TRAVELLING?

Not sure how to manage your money while you’re away? The best thing to do is leave your debit card for emergencies and get a prepaid travel card. For my 4 month trip around Asia I was in search of a good travel card with the following:

  1. Can be used in ANY country in ANY currency
  2. A good exchange rate
  3. Little or no transaction fees
  4. Little or no cash machine (ATM) fees
  5. An app that lets me track my spending

As a notorious loser of bank cards (a woman in Lloyds once told me they may stop giving me cards, but that was 6 years ago and they’ve given me about 1000 since then), I decided to take every single card I found that sounded like a good deal on the road with me. In Thailand in 2013 I left my debit card in a cash machine around day 3 of a 6 week trip and it was hell from there on (shout out to my dad for Western Union-ing me cash), So as I’m going for 4 months this time I supposed I better bring serious back-up.

Revolut

  • Type of card: prepaid MasterCard
  • Monthly free: free
  • Card purchase fee: free
  • Card purchase fee: free
  • Cash machine fee: 0% up to £500 a month, 2% after
  • Withdrawal limits: none
  • Transaction fee: 0%
  • Lost or stolen card fee: £6

The Revolut card will give you the real exchange rate at the time of the transaction, however for the Thai Baht it will give you the best it can as this is an illiquid currency, this also applies to the Russian Ruble. All you have to do is load money onto the card and you can use it wherever. You can see your balance, keep track of your transactions, top-up and withdraw money to your bank account using the app. To be eligible for the Revolut card, you must be a European resident. You can only have one active card at a time but you can order a spare, and they will deliver to anywhere in the world should you lose it on your travels.

Monzo

  • Type of card: prepaid MasterCard
  • Minimum load: £100
  • Card purchase fee: free
  • Monthly fee: free
  • Cash machine fee: free
  • Withdrawal limits: £250 per day/£1000 per month/£3000 per year
  • Transaction fee: free
  • Lost or stolen card fee:

This is very similar to the Revolut card, it’s a prepaid MasterCard with an app. You’ll get handy notifications everyday to tell you what you’ve spent. Once again there’s no need to buy different currencies, just use it in any country and you will be charged the current rate. The maximum withdrawal amount of £3000 per year might make it unsuitable for long-term travellers, but it’s good as a back up or for short trips.

 

WeSwap

  • Type of card: prepaid MasterCard
  • Minimum load: none
  • Card purchase fee: free
  • Monthly fee: none
  • Cash machine fee: UK – £1.50, international – £1.50, free over £200
  • Withdrawal limits:
  • Transaction fee: 1.4%
  • Lost or stolen card fee: £5

This is a card where you can swap your money for foreign currency, and set a time frame in which to do this. For example, if you swap £10 for Euros, you will be charged a fee depending on how soon you want your Euros. For your money immediately, you’ll be charged 1.4%. If you’d like it within 3 days you’ll be charged 1.3%, and for within a week it’s 1%. The downside of this is that you have to buy certain currencies, you can’t just use the card anywhere, plus with commission, a foreign transaction fee and a cash machine fee, it’s not really a great deal.

EasyFX

  • Type of card: prepaid MasterCard
  • Minimum load: £10
  • Card purchase fee: free
  • Monthly fee: free
  • Cash machine fee: free
  • Withdrawal limits: £625 per transaction/£1250 per day/£15000 per year
  • Transaction fee: free
  • Lost or stolen card fee: £5

This is fairly similar to Revolut and Monzo – just load the card and there’s no need to pre-buy currency as your cash is converted at the time of transaction. It’s worth noting that you can only use your EasyFX card up to 10 times in one day, and can only make withdrawals twice a day.

CaxtonFX

  • Type of card: prepaid MasterCard
  • Minimum load:
  • Card purchase fee: 
  • Monthly fee: 
  • Cash machine fee: international – free/UK – £1.50
  • Withdrawal limits: 
  • Transaction fee: international – free/UK – £1.50
  • Lost or stolen card fee: £5

This is a prepaid card, but the difference is that you buy the currency before you use it and can hold up to 15 currencies on the card at any one time (for what reason, I don’t know).  It covers: GBP, EUR, USD, CHF, AUD, ZAR, HKD, SEK, NOK, CAD, NZD, JPY, PLN, DKK, HUF. You can also load sterling and use wherever MasterCard is accepted, but for this you’ll be charged 2.49%. If you’re planning on travelling around Europe, or any of the other places that you can preload currency for, this looks like a good deal.

FairFX

  • Type of card: prepaid MasterCard
  • Minimum load: £50
  • Card purchase fee: £9.95, free if you load over £200
  • Monthly fee: free
  • Cash machine fee: £1
  • Withdrawal limits: £500 per day
  • Transaction fee: 1.4%
  • Lost or stolen card fee: 

This again uses the MasterCard wholesale exchange rate like the SuperCard. You can make a maximum of 3 withdrawals a day, and 10 over 4 days. This offers a potentially cheaper cash machine fee than the SuperCard if you’re withdrawing large amounts, but has a foreign transaction fee of 1.4% for every purchase you make. The initial card fee really put me off here.

The card I use the most is the Revolut card, I think it has the best rate and the app is so easy to use. Monzo comes in second as a back up. The lack of fees makes keeping track of spending easy on these cards, the apps are easy to use, and there’s no need to worry about buying currency, just use the card wherever MasterCard is accepted.

I only use the other cards when I can’t get the other two to work. While having all of them might seem excessive, there are a lot of very temperamental cash machines in the world (especially Asia) and it’s best to have a few to try.

 

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