Using an international debit card is a convenient way to make purchases and withdraw cash while abroad.
However, not all debit cards are created equal, and some may come with high foreign transaction fees or ATM usage charges.
Choose the right international debit card for seamless transactions. Discover the best options with low fees, wide acceptance, and ease of use in our comprehensive guide.
What are international debit cards or travel cards?
International debit cards or travel cards are payment cards that allow you to withdraw cash and make purchases in foreign currencies while traveling abroad. These cards are typically issued by banks and financial institutions and work like regular debit cards, but with added features that make them convenient and cost-effective while traveling.
One of the main benefits of using an international debit card or travel card is that it allows you to make purchases and withdraw cash in the local currency of the country you’re visiting.
This can help you avoid currency exchange fees and the hassle of carrying around large amounts of cash. In addition, many international debit cards come with added security features, such as fraud protection and travel insurance.
Some international debit cards also offer rewards programs and other perks, such as discounts on travel and dining, as well as free ATM withdrawals and low or zero foreign transaction fees.
What makes a great international debit card?
There are a lot of companies and banks offering international debit/travel cards. So, if you want to get the best cards and services, make sure that they have the following features:
- Low foreign transaction fees: Many international debit cards charge foreign transaction fees for purchases made outside of your home country. A great international debit card should offer little to no foreign transaction fees.
- Low currency conversion fees: A great international debit card should offer low currency conversion fees, which can save you money on each transaction.
- Wide acceptance: A great international debit card should be widely accepted at merchants and ATMs around the world.
- Security features: An international debit card should have strong security features to protect your account and personal information while you’re traveling. It should also be regulated by governmental authorities.
- Travel rewards: Some international debit cards offer travel rewards programs, which can help you earn points or cash back on travel-related purchases, such as flights and hotels.
- Mobile app and online access: A great international debit card should have a user-friendly mobile app and online access that allows you to manage your account and view your transaction history while you’re on the go.
Top 4 International Debit Cards
- Wise – best all-rounder, and best for low-cost international transfers
- Revolut – best for availability and card acceptance
- N26 – best for account options and top-tier benefits (insurance)
- Monese – best for premium tier benefits and zero-fee ATM withdrawals
With its cheap exchange rates and minimal fees, the Wise card is a debit card made to streamline international money transfers and assist customers in saving money.
You can access your money in several currencies with the Wise card, as well as withdraw or spend it around the world.
- No ongoing fees for using the card.
- The automated currency conversion feature makes managing multiple currencies easy
- You can withdraw up to $100 from ATMs twice per month for free.
- To acquire the card, you must pay a one-time fee of 9 USD.
- Withdrawal fees above the limit can be costly.
- There are spending limits on a daily and monthly basis, which vary based on the type of purchase.
- You can only add funds to your account through the online or app-based top-up process; cash or cheque deposits are not possible.
One of the best features about the Wise card that distinguishes it from other cards is that it can hold more than 50 currencies, and its services are available in more than 200 countries with over 2.3 million ATMs.
Wise is also a reputable service that has a rating of 4.4/ 5 on Trustpilot for over 185,000 reviews.
Revolut serves as a digital substitute to the standard banking choices, with its users receiving a debit card that can be utilized for online or in-store transactions.
This service can be accessed through an app on desktops and mobile devices. The debit card is obtainable as a MasterCard or a Visa and can be used globally, provided that Visa or MasterCard payment is accepted at the point of purchase.
- The registration process is simple.
- The app is user-friendly.
- US users are eligible for free ATM withdrawals up to $1200. Users outside of the US can withdraw €200/£200 per month for free. A 2% fee is charged for exceeding these limits.
- Revolut’s debit card is widely accepted anywhere that takes Visa or MasterCard.
- A 1% markup is applied to foreign transactions on weekends due to market closures.
- Revolut’s customer support is only available through live chat.
Revolut has 4.3/5 stars on Trustpilot with over 124,000 customer reviews.
See our review of Revolut.
N26 is a Berlin-based digital bank established in 2013. It provides a range of personal banking plans including Standard, Smart, You, and Metal, each with distinct features and charges.
- The registration process is fast.
- No monthly maintenance fees.
- Competitive foreign exchange rates.
- Deposits are only accepted in EUR and USD.
- Telephone support is not available.
- Fees apply to cash withdrawals made in foreign currency.
N26’s reputation among customers is a little mixed, based on reviews. On Trustpilot, for instance, N26 has a rating of 3.3/5 stars based on over 25,000 reviews.
Many customers express their satisfaction with how quick and easy it is to open an N26 account. However, some users are displeased with N26’s customer support.
N26 has a higher rating on the Apple Store with 4.6/5 stars.
See our review of N26.
The Monese debit card is a contactless payment card that is linked to your Monese account. It allows you to spend money and withdraw cash from ATMs worldwide. The card can be used anywhere that accepts Mastercard. Monese offers three different debit cards: Classic, Premium, and Business.
- The setup process is quick and easy
- Intuitive app
- Additional privileges with the premium subscription options
- The service doesn’t have a banking license, which means there is no deposit guarantee.
- There are monthly limits on ATM withdrawals, top-ups, and spending.
- Customer support is disappointing
Monese has established itself as an international debit/travel card service. On Trustpilot, Monese has a 4/5 rating with over 32,000 reviews.
Finding the best international debit card is essential for frequent travelers, students studying abroad, and anyone making purchases from foreign merchants. With so many options available, it can be challenging to determine which card is right for you.
However, by considering factors such as foreign transaction fees, ATM fees, and international acceptance, you can make a more informed decision based on your specific needs.
If you’re looking for an economical card with worldwide access, Wise is an excellent choice with a high rating of 4.5 stars on Trustpilot, with Revolut’s card being a close second.
How to top up a prepaid travel Card?
To fund your prepaid debit card, you can visit the website of the card issuer and transfer money from another account. Almost all issuers of prepaid debit cards offer their own mobile applications that allow you to add funds from another account through your mobile device.
The payment methods can include bank transfers and debit/credit cards.
Do prepaid travel cards have limits?
The limits for each travel card vary. However, there are a few general similarities between them which include the following:
– There is often a maximum limit on the amount that can be added to the card in a single transfer.
– The card may have a maximum balance limit that cannot be exceeded.
– There is an annual spending limit that can be increased in certain circumstances.
– The card has a maximum daily limit on the amount of cash that can be withdrawn.
Which is the cheapest travel card?
Wise offers one of the cheapest travel cards with an initial order cost of $9. Its exchange rates are competitive and you get two free cash withdrawals of up to £200 per month.
Revolut’s travel card is a competitor for affordability. However, it charges a 1% fee for exchanges on the weekends which can make it more expensive than Wise.