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Four Best Travel Money Cards in 2022 Compared by Monito

Jun 22, 2022
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From the multitude of bank fees and ATM charges to hidden currency conversion fees, there's no question that travelling abroad can be a costly endeavor — and that's saying nothing of the cost of the holiday itself!

As you prepare for your trip abroad, the golden rule is that you'll save the most money by using the local currency of your destination. This means accessing local cash with ATMs and using a debit card that can access the local currency. Using your British bank debit card that accesses your British pounds, for example, will lose you money to hidden fees at ATMs and local merchants.

If it's not possible for you to spend in the local currency when travelling abroad, then spending in your home currency while using a card that doesn't charge any hidden exchange rate markups from your bank (e.g. only paying Visa or Mastercard exchange rates to convert currency) is still a good bet for most people.

In this guide, we explore cards that waive or lower ATM fees, and that hold multiple currencies. Spend on your holiday like a local and enjoy peace of mind after each tap and swipe.

recommendation icon

In general, we consider Revolut to be the best travel card all-around for general use, as its versatile account and card can be used to spend like a local pretty much anywhere in the world. However, if you're from the EU, the UK, or the US, here are a few more specific recommendations to explore too:

  • Best for travelling between the EU and UK: Monese
  • Best for travelling from the US: Chime
  • Best for travelling within the Eurozone: N26

Don’t Let Banks, Bureaux de Change and ATMs Eat Your Lunch 🍕!

Withdrawing cash at an ATM in the streets of Paris? Exchanging currencies at Gatwick airport? Paying for a pizza with your card during a holiday in Milano? Every time you exchange currencies, you could be losing between 2% to 20% of the money you’re exchanging in hidden fees. Read this guide to make sure you recognize and avoid them.

Currency Exchange Fees Eating My Lunch? What’s That?

bureaux de change airport kiosk

You’re often charged a hidden fee in the form of a bad exchange rate. At any given time, there is a so-called “mid-market exchange rate” - this is the real exchange rate that you can see on Google.

However, the money transfer provider or bank you use to exchange currencies will rarely offer you this exchange rate. Instead, you will get a much worse exchange rate. They pocket this margin between the real rate and the poor exchange rate they apply, which allows the bank or money transfer provider to make a profit on the currency exchange. 

In other words, you or your recipient will receive less foreign currency for each unit of currency you exchange. All the while, the provider will claim that they charge zero commission or zero fees.

So the question now is… how can you avoid them? Thankfully, the best travel money cards will allow you to hold the local currency, which you can access instantly with a tap or swipe. By holding the local currency, you avoid exchange rate margins on every purchase.

Enjoy your holidays with peace of mind and more money in your pocket.

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Top Travel Money Tips

  1. Avoid bureaux de change. They charge between 2.15% and 16.60% of the money exchanged.
  2. Always pay in the local currency and never accept the dynamic currency conversion.
  3. Don't use your bank card. It'll cost you between 1.75% and 4.25% per transaction. Instead, use one of the innovative travel money cards below.

The Best Travel Money Cards in 2022

Jarrod Suda Japanese temple below mountains in Shikoku, Japan

After researching and reviewing the top travel cards offered by some of the most well-known neobanks, Monito has found multi-currency cards by Wise, Revolut, N26, and Monese to be among the industry's best. Here, we walk through their products and services and compare them to other options like the Travelex Money Card.

Revolut

Revolut is one of the most well-known neobanks in the world because it offers services across Europe, the Americas, Asia, and Oceania.

Like Wise, Revolut converts your currency to the local currency of your travel destination at the mid-market rate. They do set a cap of free allowances, however.

Their Standard Plan only allows free exchanges for transfers worth £1,000 per month. ATM withdrawals are also free for the first €200. These allowances can be waived by upgrading memberships.

N26

One of the most well-known neobanks in Europe, N26 and its debit card operate in Euros only. However, N26 is a partner with Wise and has fully integrated Wise's technology so that you never have to pay foreign transaction fees on your purchases outside of the eurozone. While N26 does not have multi-currency functionality, N26 will apply the real exchange rate on all your foreign purchases and will never charge a commission fee — making N26's card a powerful card for EU/EEA residents who travel across the globe.

This low-fee option for banking is also ideal for travellers who do not belong to a European bank but frequent the Eurozone. For example, N26 is available for residents and citizens of Switzerland, Norway, and other European Economic Area countries who do not run on the Euro.

These citizens, who are in close proximity to the Eurozone, will save each time they spend with an N26 card while in Europe. N26 provides three free ATM withdrawals per month in euros but does charge a 1.7% fee per ATM withdrawal outside of Europe.

Wise Multi-Currency Card

Load up to 54 currencies onto this card at the real exchange rate, giving you access to truly global travel.

Unlike banks, credit unions, airport kiosks, and foreign ATMs, Wise is transparent about never charging a hidden exchange rate margin when you convert your home currency into up to 54 currencies. The live rate you see on Google or XE.com is the one you get with Wise.

An industry-low commission fee per transaction will range from 0.35% to 2.85%, depending on the currency.

Monese

Monese is recommended for UK or EU residents who frequently spend in British pounds, Euros, and Romanian leu because of its spending allowances for those currencies.

On its £1.95 per month Essential Plan, you can spend your British Pounds abroad for a 0.5% fee per transaction. On the £14.95 per month Premium Plan, you can spend as much as you want internationally without incurring a fee, including ATM cash withdrawals.

Your other option is to convert your home currency into pounds, euros, or leu (for travels to the UK, Eurozone, or Romania). If you load up Pounds with your UK bank account, for example, you can move that into your euro or leu account at no extra cost. This is a great plus compared to Wise, which does charge a small fee each time you transfer money from one currency pot into the next.

Four Best Travel Money Cards in 2022 Compared

In the table below, see our comparison summary of the four best travel cards for 2022:

Which Countries, Languages and Platforms Are Supported?

Here, you'll find information about where each card is available, as well as which language and operating system each supports:

Available in 🌎

European Economic Area (EU + Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway) except Croatia, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Malta, Czech Republic, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania & Romania.

Available in the European Economic Area (EU + Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway), UK

Available in the European Economic Area (EU + Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway), Switzerland, Australia, US, UK, Japan

Almost everywhere

Languages supported 🙊

EN, FR, ES, DE, IT

EN, FR, ES, DE, IT, PT, BG, RO, PL, CZ, TR, LT

EN, FR, GR, DE, IT, JA, LT, PL, PT, RO, ES, BG, CR, CZ, DN, DU, ET, FI, HU, LA, NO, SL, SO, SE

EN, FR, ES, DE, IT, PL, PT, RO, TR, RU, JP, HU

Available platform 📱

Web and Mobile App

Mobile app only

Mobile app only

Web and Mobile App

Go to N26Go to MoneseGo to RevolutGo to Wise

Last updated: 16/07/2021

Which Travel Money Card Provider Is the Most Trustworthy?

Find out more about how the travel cards compare with respect to users and trustworthiness:

Number of customers

3.5 million

1 million

3.9 million

4 million

Trustpilot Score

7.7 / 10

(5,300 reviews)

8.9 / 10

(11,500 reviews)

8.9 / 10

(20,000 reviews)

9.2 / 10

(67,000 reviews)

Go to N26Go to MoneseGo to RevolutGo to Wise

What Happens If I Have a Problem With My Travel Card?

Below, you can find a summary of the steps to follow in the event that you run into a problems with each of the cards:

What happens if the company go bust?

N26 is holding a banking license regulated by the German Financial Regulatory Authority and a member of the German deposit protection scheme, which insures all deposits up to €100.000 held in the member states of the European Union. Customers with an account in the UK are protected up to the equivalent amount in GBP.

Monese current accounts are not protected by the FSCS protection (which guarantees deposits up to £85,000). But Monese is an agent of PrePay technologies Limited licensed as an Electronic Money Institution (Number 900010). Customer accounts are kept segregated from Monese's own accounts and their customer would receive 100% of their balance back if Monese go bust.

Revolut's customer funds are not guaranteed by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) in the UK. However, as an authorized Electronic Money Institution by the FCA in the UK, Revolut keeps its customers funds separated from its own and in case of insolvency, you would be able to claim a full refund. If Barclays/Lloyd's would become insolvent (where Revolut holds your funds), the money would not be guaranteed though.

Your balance on Wise's borderless account is not guaranteed by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) in the UK. But as an Electronic Money Institution, Wise is required by law to keep your money safe and segregated from its own account. It means that if Wise go bust, your money will be unaffected and be refunded to you in full. However, if Barclays (where TransferWise stores its UK and European customers' funds) would go bust, the return of your money would not be guaranteed.

What happens if I lose my phone?

If you lose your Smartphone, you can keep managing your account with N26's web interface. You will first need to disconnect your old smartphone from your account by talking with the support, and then you'll be able to pair a new smartphone to your account.

You can only access your Monese account from one device at a time. In order to register a new smartphone to your account: Download the app on your new phone. Log In with your email adress. Confirm your new smartphone via the email you've just received.

If you lose your phone, your Revolut card will still work. However, you'll need to instal the app on a new smartphone, enter your phone numebr and select "I haven't received a code yet" to speak with a support agent (as you won't be able to receive the validation SMS). As Revolut customer accounts can't be managed on the web, it's the only way that you'll be able to manage your account if you loose your phone.

With Wise, you'll still be able to use your card and manage your account online. However, if you have an SMS validation activated to access your account, you'll need to call the support in order to change your phone number.

What if my card is lost or stolen?

You can block/unblock the card at anytime in the N26 mobile app. If you've definitely lost your card, you can reorder a new one in your N26 Account settings.

Immediately go in to the Monese app and report your card as Lost/Stolen. A new card will be sent to your address and the card will be blocked. If you don't have access to your mobile app neither, call Monese Support as soon as possible. If you're not sure where you card is, you can lock your card and unlock it later if you found it.

You can block your card from the app at any time and reorder a new card. If you're not sure where you card is, you can freeze your card and unlock it later if you found it.

You can freeze your card from the app at any time and order a replacement within the Wise mobile app or web interface.

Go to N26Go to MoneseGo to RevolutGo to Wise

Last updated: 16/07/2021

Which Multi-Currency Card is the Best?

Christine Roy, Unsplash

Travel cards come in many varieties, such as credit cards that charge no foreign transaction fees or cards that waive all foreign ATM withdrawal fees.

What is a Multi-Currency Card?

Multi-currency cards are a specific type of travel card that allows you to actually own all kinds of foreign currencies, which you can instantly access when you pay with your card abroad. By spending the local currency in the region of travel, you bypass poor foreign exchange rates. ATMs and cashless payment machines will treat your card like a local's card.

We have already mentioned a few multi-currency cards in this review, but we will also introduce Travelex. Travelex's Money Card also allows you to top up several foreign currencies — albeit at exchange rates slightly poorer than the real mid-market rate.

Wise Multi-Currency Account

Wise has one of the best multi-currency cards available on the market. Read our full review for more details.

Revolut

Revolut is impressive for its vast options in currencies as well as its additional services, such as stock trading, cryptocurrency access, and money management interface. Our in-depth review explores Revolut's services in full.

Travelex Money Card

Travelex offers a prepaid travel money card that supports 10 currencies and waives all ATM withdrawal fees abroad.

Travelex charges fees, which fluctuate according to the exchange rates of the day, in order to convert your home currency into the currencies that it supports. But once the currency is on the card, you'll be able to spend like a local. Learn more with our full review.

Best Travel Money Card Tips

Jarrod Suda Eiffel Tower Paris France

When you convert your home currency into a foreign currency, foreign exchange service providers will charge you two kinds of fees:

  1. Exchange Rate Margin: Providers apply an exchange rate that is poorer than the true "mid-market" exchange rate. They keep the difference, called an exchange rate margin.
  2. Commission Fee: This fee is usually a percentage of the amount converted, which is charged for the service provided.

With these facts in mind, let's see what practices are useful to avoid ATM fees, foreign transaction fees, and other charges you may encounter while on your travels.

Tip 1: While Traveling, Avoid Bureaux de Change At All Costs

Have you ever wondered how bureaux de change and currency exchange desks are able to secure prime real estate in touristic locations like the Champs-Élysées in Paris or Covent Carden in London while claiming to take no commission? It’s easy: they make (plenty of) money through hidden fees on the exchange rates they’re giving you. 

Moneycorp exchange rate at the Gatwick Airport

Our study shows that Bureaux de Change in Paris charges a margin ranging from 2.15% at CEN Change Dollar Boulevard de Strasbourg to 16.6% (!!) at Travelex Champs-Élysées when exchanging 500 US dollars into Euros for example. 

If you really want cash and can’t wait to withdraw it with a card at an ATM at your destination, ordering currencies online before your trip is usually cheaper than exchanging currencies at a bureau de change, but it’s still a very expensive way to get foreign currency which we, therefore, would not recommend.

Tip 2: Always Choose To Pay In the Local Currency

Luca Bravo on Unsplash Times Square United States

Don’t fall for the dynamic currency conversion trap! When using your card abroad to pay at a terminal or withdraw cash at an ATM, you’ve probably been asked whether you’d prefer to pay in your home currency instead of the local currency of the foreign country. This little trick is called dynamic currency conversion, and the right answer to this sneaky question will help you save big on currency exchange fees.

As a general rule, you always want to pay in the local currency (Euros in Europe, GBP in the UK, DKK in Denmark, THB in Thailand, etc.) when using your card abroad, instead of accepting the currency exchange and paying in your home currency. 

This seems like a trick question - why not opt to pay in your home currency? On the plus side, you would know exactly what amount you would be paying in your home currency instead of accepting the unknown exchange rate determined by your card issuer a few days later.

What is a Dynamic Currency Conversion?

However, when choosing to pay in your home currency instead of the local one, you will carry out what’s called a “dynamic currency conversion”. This is just a complicated way of saying that you’re exchanging between the foreign currency and your home currency at the exact time you use your card to pay or withdraw cash in a foreign currency, and not a few days later. For this privilege, the local payment terminal or ATM will apply an exchange rate that is often significantly worse than even a traditional bank’s exchange rate (we’ve seen margins of up to 8%!), and of course, much worse than the exchange rate you would get by using an innovative multi-currency card (see tip #3). 

In the vast majority of times, knowing with complete certainty what amount you will pay in your home currency is not worth the additional steep cost of the dynamic currency conversion, hence why we recommend always choosing to pay in the local currency.

Tip 3: Don't Use a Traditional Card To Pay in Foreign Currency/Withdraw Cash Abroad

@ Can Pac Swire via Flickr

As mentioned before, providers make money on foreign currency conversions by charging poor exchange rates — and pocketing the difference between that and the true mid-market rate. They also make money by charging commission fees, which can either come as flat fees or as a percentage of the transaction.

Have a look at traditional bank cards compared to see how much you can be charged in fees for spending or withdrawing $500 while on your holiday.

Bank

Barclays Debit Card

HSBC Debit Card

La Banque Postale

Deutsche Bank Credit Card

UBS Credit Card

Foreign card transaction fee (%)

2.75%

2.75%

2.30%

1.75% (min €1.50)

2% + markup on exchange rate (1-2%)

Foreign ATM fee

2.75% + £1.50*

2.75% + £1.75

2.30% + €3.30

4.25% (min €7.25)*

4%

Cost of paying $500 with card

$13.75/$15.65

$13.75/$15.95

$11.50/$15.20

$12.5/$21.25

$15/$20

Last updated: 16/07/2021

* Barclays and Deutsche Bank are members of the Global ATM Alliance, which allows you to withdraw cash abroad at the ATMs of selected partner banks with zero fees. 

These fees can very quickly add up. For example, take a couple and a child travelling to the US on a two-week mid-range holiday. According to this study, the total cost of their holiday would amount to around $4200. If you withdraw $200 in cash four times and spend the rest with your card, you would pay $123 in hidden currency exchange and ATM withdrawal fees with HSBC, or $110 with La Banque Postale. With this money, our travelers could pay for a nice dinner, the entrance fee to Yosemite Park, or many other priceless memories. 

Thankfully, new innovative multi-currency cards will help you save a lot of money while travelling. Opening an N26 Classic account and using the N26 card during the same US holidays would only cost $13.60.

Best Travel Money Cards Available In The UK and Internationally [Watch our VIDEO]

Frequently Asked Questions about the Best Travel Money Cards

Other Monito Guides and Reviews on Top Multi Currency Cards

Why Trust Monito?

You’re probably all too familiar with the often outrageous cost of sending money abroad. After facing this frustration themselves back in 2013, co-founders François, Laurent, and Pascal launched a real-time comparison engine to compare the best money transfer services across the globe. Today, Monito’s award-winning comparisons, reviews, and guides are trusted by around 8 million people each year and our recommendations are backed by millions of pricing data points and dozens of expert tests — all allowing you to make the savviest decisions with confidence.

Learn More About Monito
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  • Monito's experts spend hours researching and testing services so that you don't have to.

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