Best travel debit card
We are sure that if you like to travel abroad you already ask yourself, what is the best travel debit card for your trips? For sure, you will be looking to avoid (or pay the minimum) commission. Also, for the best possible exchange.
These days exist travel debit cards that allow you to pay without having to pay a commission for exchanging currency. Also, withdraw money from cash machines without any kind of commission.
Are you losing in other posts with thousands of explanations about it? Continue reading, it will be fast and clean, and you will discover the best travel debit cards for your travels.
Why use a travel card instead of a bank credit card?
When you travel outside your country, your bank will take a commission when you pay in another currency. In the same way, they will take a commission to withdraw money from cash machines. But exists special travel debit cards that don’t charge any kind of commission for their services. Also, will offer you better exchange ratios than usual banks.
This way, if you are a person that travels a lot for work or pleasure, you need one. Consider getting any of these travel debit cards that we go to suggest you.
Also, if you are an expatriate like me, you can avoid problems by using travel debit cards. These problems can be since automatic cancellations from your bank, to simply pay every time this commissions.
It exists payment versions of these cards, but we go to talk about only the free versions. Both 3 include an intuitive app with instant notifications and are easy to use.
The 7 basic things to know when spending abroad
Before your travel, there are some basic things you need to know about how credit and debit cards work overseas. Understand better these points or it will cost you large. Read the following points, or at least try to remember the headlines if you don’t have time.
Save around $100 using a travel debit card
If you compare how much you will pay using different methods, the difference can be up to $100 for $1000 using a travel debit card.
Using your usual bank credit card can cost you around $80 more per $1000.
Regarding cash, the cheapest option is to exchange in a city bank of your city. But still around $20 more expensive than using a travel debit card.
Other options with cash include:
- Using ATMs can cost you $30 more
- Change at the airport is the most expensive option, with a difference of around $70.
Always pay it off in full every month when using a credit card
Specialist credit cards overseas can be a good option to use when you travel. But be careful to pay every time or it can become an expensive option. The interest charges that you can pay, is bigger than the cheap exchange you were paying.
Pay always in the local currency
They can ask if you want to pay in the local currency or in dollars or euros, for example. Always choose the local currency. Usually, the rates that they use are compared to your travel debit card. The rates that these cards use are the best in the market.
The only moment you must pay attention is the ATMs. It can exist a fee that can be charged from that bank can be higher to use local currency. If it’s under 2.5% use your currency, so only if it’s over this rate choose the local.
Be careful with your debit card
There are some debit cards that are charging a commission for each transaction. It means you can be spending $5 on a product, but pay around $0.5 to your bank. It could usually happen when you travel outside European Union and the European Economic Area/EEA (including Iceland and Norway for example). So be careful with this hidden charge from your bank when you travel for example to Asia.
Use a travel debit card or withdraw when I’m on a trip?
Using a travel debit card or credit card is almost always cheaper. Usually, you will be paying interest on the withdrawal until you pay it off even on cards with no cash withdrawal fees. Also, you even can pay double for non-specialist travel credit cards.
It doesn’t stop here, as you will be paying a fee and interest on cash withdrawals. On usual debit cards, there’s often a fee when you use an ATM.
If you travel to see cherry blossoms in Japan, you need to know that Japan is still a firmly rooted cash-based society. Many people pay by cash despite having a credit card.
Check the Mastercard, Visa, or Amex logo on your card
Not all cards are the same. You need to check if the card you are thinking to get has the Mastercard, Visa, or Amex logo. When you travel abroad, your bank will give you a good rate. It exchanges at Mastercard’s, Visa’s, or Amex’s wholesale rate. All of which is pretty close to the spot rate that the currency markets suggest (the perfect rate).
Comparing these three options, Mastercard tended to be slightly better exchanged but is not really so much difference. But most of the banks will charge you for this exchange, and this is where the difference appears. This is the principal reason why you should always choose the best travel debit card for your next travel.
Do you want to lock in the rate exchange? Use a prepaid card or change before your trip
With travel credit (or debit) cards, you get the rate at the moment is processed your payment or withdrawal. If you are looking to lock this exchange rate, it exists also prepaid travel cards. This option will give you a fixed rate during your trip before you head away.
Another option is to use the option of your travel debit cards to exchange a certain amount of money before your trip. This way, you can no worry during your travel about currency swings.
The best 3 free travel debit cards to travel abroad
The N26 card is one of the most popular for traveling abroad, but also for using it in our day-to-day life.
The best option of this debit card is that you have 5 free withdrawals per month in Euro currency.
Advantages of using the N26 card abroad:
- Free Mastercard
- 5 free withdrawals per month in Euro currency (all Europe). (€ 2 rest of withdrawals)
- Free payments in any currency with your card
- Free transfers
- Online banking
- Cash withdrawal at ATMs with foreign currency 1.7%
- Your money is protected up to $100,000
This app became famous for its cheap transfers between countries. This way, now they have also the possibility to create a bank account with an associate debit card.
The best of this option is to have the possibility to have your money in different currencies. What does it mean? That you can have in the same place euros, dollars, pounds… And no pay any kind of commission when you pay in another currency or buy online.
Also, when you pay in another currency, they only will charge you the official currency exchange at this moment. This way, you will avoid the big commissions of usual banks!
Advantages of using the Transferwise card abroad:
- An account with different currencies
- Payments in foreign currency without commissions (or small if you don’t have it in your account)
- Withdraw money in another currency with small commissions
- Withdrawal of money at ATMs worldwide for free up to £200 per month
- National account numbers from Great Britain, Euro, USA, New Zealand, Australia & Poland.
- Your money is protected according to the regulations of the country.
A similar option to Transferwise, but offers the plus that you do not pay commissions to transfer to another euro account.
Like Transferwise, you can have your money in different currencies. Also, they use the interbank exchange rate, so you can be sure you are paying the minimum commission.
Personally, it’s what I’m using in my everyday life in Russia. So I can use my euro account without any worries and pay directly with my phone.
Advantages of using the Revolut card abroad:
- An account with different currencies
- Spend abroad in over 150 currencies at the Real (Interbank) exchange rates.
- Free payments in foreign currencies.
- No fees on cash withdrawals abroad, up to US$300 (200€) per month.
- Your money is protected up to $250,000
Comparing the travel debit cards
plus small commission
|Monthly shop payments
|Monthly cash withdrawals
|5 times for free in Euros (1% other currency)
|200£ for free, after 2%
|200€ or $300 for free
|Free in euros
|0,50£ / 0,60€
|Free in euros
|6€ for delivery
|6€ for delivery
As you can see, both 3 cards are similar for simple travel. If you are thinking to pay at all possible times with cash, N26 is your best option. In another way, if you prefer to pay by your debit card, you must consider getting Revolut. Transferwise, it is a good option in any case. The commissions are similar, and they offer you to have national bank accounts in the most important countries.
Remember to check the use of debit cards in your next destination. As we explained, during a Japan Photo Workshop the use of debit cards can be a problem.
I hope this post helps you to choose and stop paying commissions to your bank. You can save money any time you travel! Check out our post about photography apps, I’m sure it will help for your photography tour 😉