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The Ultimate Guide to Travel Money Cards: Find the Best Option for Your Adventure

Nov 28, 2023
best travel money card with pictures of wise and luggage

Are you tired of dealing with the hassles of exchanging currency and carrying wads of cash while travelling? Travel money cards are here to revolutionize your overseas adventures. With the ability to load multiple currencies onto one convenient card, you can say goodbye to the days of hunting down ATMs or calculating currency conversion fee rates. In this ultimate guide, we will dive deep into the world of travel money cards, looking at top providers like Wise and ultimately making spending abroad much easier.

From understanding the types of travel money cards to exploring their key features, safety measures, and digital wallet integration, this comprehensive guide has you covered. We’ll also share expert tips for maximizing your travel money card experience and offer a look at some alternative payment methods. By the end of this blog post, you’ll be well-equipped to make the most of your prepaid travel money card budget and spend wisely on your next trip.

Key Takeaways

  • Travel money cards provide a secure and convenient way to carry multiple currencies while travelling.

  • Consider fees, exchange rates, currency support and security measures when selecting the best travel money card for your needs.

  • Maximize your experience by following expert tips such as loading multiple currencies and researching different providers.

Travel Money Cards: An Overview

A person holding a wise debit card

A travel money card is a global currency card that provides users multiple benefits. It allows you to:

  • Deposit various foreign currencies into your personal account at the live exchange rate

  • Make purchases in stores, and online, and withdraw money from ATMs while travelling

  • Purchase different currencies through a mobile app while travelling overseas

  • Add or reload purchased currencies into your travel money card account

Some of the top providers in the market include Wise, Post Office and Travelex. These offer unique features and advantages that cater to different traveller needs. Some of these benefits include competitive exchange rates, no fees for overseas ATM withdrawals, and multi-currency support.

Types of Travel Money Cards

mixture, currencies, beautiful wallpaper

Travel money cards come in three main types: prepaid, debit, and credit cards. Each prepaid card type has distinct features and benefits that cater to diverse traveller needs. Understanding the differences among these types will help you decide which one is best suited for your travel plans.

Prepaid travel money cards are reloadable and do not require a credit check, making them accessible to a broader range of travellers. They allow you to make payments in foreign currencies, giving you the flexibility to spend and withdraw cash while travelling.

Debit travel money cards, on the other hand, are linked to a bank account and enable payments in foreign currencies without a credit check. One such option is the Wise debit card.

Credit travel money cards are connected to a credit account and require a credit check, can be used for payments in foreign currencies, and offer the convenience of a credit line during trips.

Selecting the right travel money card requires consideration of factors like fees, exchange rates, and multi-currency support. A comparison of the features and benefits of prepaid, debit, and credit travel money cards will help identify the most suitable option for your travels.

Top Travel Money Card Providers

A person using a multi currency card

Reputable travel money card providers such as Wise, Post Office and Travelex are popular due to their unique features and advantages. Each caters to different traveller preferences, so comparing their offerings is key to finding the one that aligns with your needs.

Wise, previously known as TransferWise, is another top provider with their Wise travel card. This multi-currency account offers a physical card and up to 3 virtual cards for use in online, in-store, and overseas payments. Wise is known for its low fees and mid-market exchange rates, making it an attractive option for cost-conscious travellers. It also has the highest range of currencies available, making it the most flexible for your travels!

Why Wise is a Superior Choice Over Post Office and Travelex

When it comes to selecting a travel money card, Wise stands out as a frontrunner in the market, providing a more advantageous option over other providers such as Post Office and Travelex. Here's why:

1. Competitive Exchange Rates: Wise is renowned for offering mid-market exchange rates, ensuring customers get the most value for their money. Unlike other providers that may add a markup to their mid-market exchange rate rates, Wise uses the real exchange rate with no hidden fees or charges.

2. Lower Fees: Wise prides itself on its transparency and low fee structure. While other providers might charge fees for overseas ATM withdrawals or currency conversions, Wise maintains minimal fees, making it a cost-effective choice for travellers.

3. Broad Currency Support: Wise supports over 50 currencies and over 175 countries, offering a higher range than most other providers. This makes it an ideal choice for globetrotters travelling to multiple countries with different currencies.

4. Advanced Features: With Wise, customers can enjoy advanced features like the smart auto-convert feature, which automatically converts currencies at the lowest possible fee. This ensures users always get the best deal.

5. Digital Wallet Integration: Wise seamlessly integrates with digital wallets like Google Pay and Apple Pay, providing added convenience for contactless payments and card management.

6. Robust Security Measures: Wise has robust security measures in place, including 2-step login, card freeze/unfreeze options, and 3D Secure technology, ensuring a secure experience for users.

In summary, Wise provides a more comprehensive, cost-effective, and user-friendly solution for managing travel money, making it a superior choice over Post Office and Travelex.

Key Features to Consider

Selecting the most suitable travel money card involves considering aspects like fees, exchange rates, and multi-currency support. These features can greatly influence your travel budget and experience.

Fees and Charges

One of the first things to consider when choosing a travel money card is the fees and charges associated with using the card. These may include:

  • Card activation fees

  • Card issuance fees

  • ATM withdrawal fees

  • Currency conversion fees

  • Inactivity fees

It’s essential to compare the fees and charges of different providers to determine the most suitable option for your requirements.

For instance, the Wise card has the following fees:

  • A one-time fee of 9 USD for card issuance

  • An annual fee of 0.4% for Euros and 1.6% for all other currencies if the maximum currency allowance is exceeded

  • A card fee based on a percentage of the total if payment is made via debit or credit card

When using a travel money card abroad, it’s important to be aware of any currency conversion fees and foreign transaction fees that may apply. For example, Wise charges a conversion and withdrawal fee of 1.75% for amounts withdrawn over A$350. By comparing the fees and charges of top providers like Wise and Travelex, you can decide which travel money card best aligns with your travel budget and preferences.

Exchange Rates

Exchange rates play a crucial role in travel money card transactions, as they determine the amount of one currency that can be exchanged for another. Choosing a travel money card with competitive exchange rates ensures you get the most value. Furthermore, some travel money cards may offer additional benefits such as cashback or travel insurance, which can further amplify the card's advantages.

A Wise account, in particular, is well-regarded for its mid-market exchange rates, which means that customers can enjoy a favourable mid-market rate without any markup or additional fees. This can result in significant savings when making international payments or withdrawing cash while travelling. Additionally, a Wise account offers a smart auto-convert feature that allows for automatic currency conversion at the lowest possible fee every time, ensuring you always get the best deal.

When using a travel money card overseas to spend abroad, it’s essential to keep track of exchange rates and be aware of any applicable fees. By staying informed and choosing a card with competitive rates, you can enjoy a seamless travel experience while maximizing the value of your travel budget.

Multiple Currencies

A Wise multi-currency account offers multi-currency support, an advantageous feature for travellers, as it allows them to securely carry and use multiple currencies, including foreign currency, while travelling abroad. This eliminates the need to carry cash or exchange money at unfavourable rates, saving time and saving money, too. Additionally, it provides the flexibility and convenience to visit different countries with varied currencies.

Top travel money card providers such as Post Office, Travelex, and Wise offer a range of multi-currency options. For example, the Post Office travel money card can hold up to 22 currencies, allowing travellers to switch between different currencies during their trip easily. On the other hand, a Wise card supports use in over 175 countries and offers access to cash from 3 million ATMs worldwide, making it an ideal choice for globetrotters.

By choosing a travel money card that supports multiple currencies, you can enjoy a hassle-free and cost-effective travel experience. Be sure to research and compare different providers to find the best multi-currency travel card for your needs.

How to Use Your Travel Money Card

Using a travel money card is straightforward, starting with ordering and activating the card online. For example, the Wise card can be obtained by following these steps:

  1. Sign up for an account with Wise either online or via the Wise app.

  2. Submit a picture of a valid ID for authentication.

  3. Order the card for a one-time fee of 9 USD. Once you receive your card, it can be activated by:

  4. Signing into your account.

  5. Entering the accompanying activation code printed on the card.

Note: You can also order a virtual card with Wise that you can start using immediately!

To top up your travel money card, you can purchase foreign currencies and add or reload them into your card’s account through a mobile app while travelling abroad. Be sure to regularly monitor your account balance and transactions to ensure a smooth travel experience. For example, the Wise App lets you review recent transactions, view your PIN, transfer funds between various currency wallets, and freeze your card if necessary.

Should your card be lost or stolen, prompt action is required to freeze the lost or stolen card using the provider’s app or online platform.

Safety and Security Measures

Travel money card providers implement diverse security measures to protect your funds and personal information for a secure experience. These measures typically include:

  • Chip and PIN protection

  • Card replacement services

  • Additional card backup

  • Fraud protection

  • 3D Secure technology

In addition to these standard security measures, it’s important to stay vigilant while travelling. Here are some tips to follow:

  • Protect your PIN and card information

  • Keep an eye on your account activity to detect any unauthorized transactions

  • If you suspect any fraudulent activity or lose your card, quickly freeze the card using the provider’s app or online platform to minimize potential losses.

By staying informed about the security measures implemented by your travel money card provider and taking proactive steps to protect your card and personal information, you can enjoy a safe and secure travel experience.

Digital Wallet Integration

Integrating your travel money card with a digital wallet can provide added convenience and ease of use. Digital card wallets allow you to make contactless payments and manage your card transactions in one place.

Digital wallets:

  • Wise Travel

  • PayPal

  • Google Pay

  • Apple Pay

To add your travel money card to a digital wallet, follow these steps:

  1. Open the wallet app on your device.

  2. Tap on the option to add a new card or manage cards.

  3. Follow the instructions provided by the app to verify and authenticate the card.

  4. Upon successful verification, your card will be added to the digital wallet and can be used for transactions.

Combining your travel money card with a digital wallet allows you to streamline your payment process atm fees, enhance security, and enjoy a seamless travel experience. Be sure to research and compare different digital wallets to find the one that best suits your needs and preferences.

Tips for Maximizing Your Travel Money Card Experience

credit card, payment, credit

To make the most of your travel money card, follow these expert tips:

  1. Load multiple currencies onto your card to ensure you’re prepared for any destination. This will help you avoid unfavourable exchange rates and save money on currency conversion fees.

  2. Always opt to pay in the local currency when making purchases to get the best exchange rate.

  3. Carry a small amount of cash in the local currency as a backup and for situations where card payments are not accepted.

  4. Regularly monitor your account and transactions to stay on top of your travel budget and detect fraudulent activity.

  5. Research and compare different travel money cards and providers to find the best option for your needs and preferences.

By following these tips, you can maximize the benefits of your travel money card and enjoy a more convenient, cost-effective, and secure travel experience.

Travel Money Card Alternatives

While travel money cards provide many benefits for travellers, alternative payment methods like traditional bank cards, cash, and mobile payment apps are worth considering. Each option has its advantages and disadvantages, so they should be evaluated in relation to your travel needs and preferences.

Traditional bank cards, such as debit or credit cards, can be convenient for making purchases and withdrawing cash abroad. However, they may come with higher fees for foreign transactions and ATM withdrawals than travel money cards.

Cash is a universally accepted payment method, but carrying large amounts can be risky, and you may face unfavourable exchange rates when converting currencies. Mobile payment apps, like PayPal or Google Pay, offer the convenience of contactless payments but may have limited acceptance among merchants in some countries.

Ultimately, the best travel payment method will depend on your preferences, travel itinerary, and budget. By considering the pros and cons of travel money cards and their alternatives, you can make an informed decision that best suits your needs.


In conclusion, travel money cards are a game-changer for globe-trotters, offering convenience, safety, and cost-effectiveness in managing multiple currencies while travelling. By understanding the types of travel money cards, comparing top providers, and considering key features such as fees, exchange rates, and multi-currency support, you can choose the best card for your adventures.

Armed with the knowledge and tips shared in this ultimate foreign cash-using guide, you’re now ready to embark on your next journey with confidence, knowing that your travel money card will help you easily navigate the world of foreign currencies. Bon voyage!

Frequently Asked Questions

Are travel money cards worth it?

Travel money cards, like Wise, are a great choice for longer trips as they typically offer advantages such as the ability to load multiple currencies, secure PIN protection, locked-in exchange rates and no foreign transaction fees. They can also help travellers save a fortune in fees when used as their main card on holiday. However, it's important to consider any annual fees or credit score requirements associated with them before signing up.

What is the disadvantage of a travel money card?

A disadvantage of a travel money card is that it may incur foreign transaction fees and not be accepted by all vendors or destinations. Further, it may lack rewards and perks, plus come with hefty annual fees and high credit score requirements. It is thus recommended always to carry emergency cash on holiday.

What is the best option for travel money?

For the best exchange rate and low/no transaction fees, withdrawing cash from your bank's ATM in the local currency is generally the best choice for day-to-day funds. Before travelling, exchanging money at your bank or credit union, which may offer better rates and fees, is also recommended.

What are the main types of travel money cards?

The three main types of prepaid travel card money cards are prepaid, debit, and credit cards, each offering different benefits and features.

How do exchange rates affect travel money card transactions?

Exchange rates significantly affect the value of travel money cards, as they determine how much one currency can be exchanged for another. Selecting a card with competitive exchange rates is important to get the most value from your transactions.


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