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Here Are the Four Best Travel Money Cards in 2023

Jarrod Suda

Reviewer

Oct 11, 2023
Affiliate disclosure

From the multitude of bank fees and ATM charges to hidden currency conversion fees, there's no question that spending your money abroad while travelling can be costly — and that's saying nothing about 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 withdrawing local cash at foreign ATMs and using a debit card to pay directly in the local currency. For example, if you're from the UK, using your bank's debit card that accesses your British pounds will likely lose you money to hidden fees at ATMs abroad and at local merchants.

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In general, we rate Revolut as the best travel card all around. Its versatile account and card can be used to spend like a local pretty much anywhere in the world. ✨ Get 3 months of free Revolut Premium as a Monito reader with our exclusive link.

If you're from the EU, UK, or US, here are a few more specific recommendations to explore:

  • Best for travelling from the UK: Starling Bank
  • Best for travelling from the US: Chime®
  • Best for travelling from the Eurozone: N26

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 the 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!

Best Travel Cards (And More!) at a Glance

💷 Best UK Travel Card
💵 Best US Travel Card
💶 Best EU Travel Card
💴 Best Australian Travel Card
💵 Best Canadian Travel Card
⚕️ Best Travel Insurer
🛂 Best Visa Application Service
✈ Best Flight Aggregator
💬 Best Language Learning App
💻 Best VPN for Travel

Revolut: Best All-Rounder

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

Monthly Fee (Standard Plan)

£0.00 (or $0.00, €0.00, etc.)

Multi-Currency Balances

Yes (available in 35 currencies)

FX Fee

0.50%

ATM Withdrawal Fee

2.00%

Revolut is available in many countries. You can double-check if it's available in yours below:

Revolut

Here's an overview of Revolut's plans:

Account Name

Fee /Month

Revolut Standard

£0.00

Revolut Plus

£2.99

Revolut Premium

£6.99

Revolut Metal

£12.99

Revolut Ultra

£55.00

Revolut Ultra is currently only available in the UK and EU.

Like Wise, Revolut converts your currency to the local currency of your travel destination at the mid-market rate, making it a good way to buy foreign currency before travelling abroad. As always though, bear in mind that Revolut's exchange rates might be subject to change.

Revolut's Standard Plan only allows currency exchange at the base mid-market exchange rate for transfers worth £1,000 per month. ATM withdrawals are also free for the first €200 (though third-party providers may charge a withdrawal fee and weekend fees may also apply). These allowances can be waived by upgrading memberships.

N26: Good Bank For EU Travellers

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.

Monthly Fee ('Standard' Plan)

€0.00

Multi-Currency Balances

No, euro balance only

FX Fee

0.00%

ATM Withdrawal Fee

1.70%

These are the countries in which you can register for an N26 account:

N26

And here is an overview of the various plans and account:

Account Name

Fee /Month

N26 Standard

€0.00

N26 Smart

€4.90

N26 You

€9.90

N26 Metal

€16.90

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 that 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.

Take a look at our guide to the best travel cards for Europe to learn more.

Wise: Best For Multi-Currency Balances

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

Monthly Fee

£0 (or $0, €0, etc.)

Multi-Currency Balances

Yes (50+ currencies)

FX Fee

0.35% - 2.85%

ATM Withdrawal Fee

1.75%

These are the countries in which you can order a Wise debit card:

Wise Multi-Currency Account

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.

Starling Bank: Great UK Bank For Travel

Starling Bank is one of the best neobanks in the United Kingdom. We highly recommend it for UK residents who frequently spend in British pounds and euros because of its multi-currency capabilities.

Monthly Fee

£0.00

Multi-Currency Balances

No, but a separate euro account is available

FX Fee

0.00%

ATM Withdrawal Fee

0.00%

Here are the different account that Starling Bank offers:

Account Name

Fee /Month

Personal Account

£0.00

Join Account

£0.00

Euro Account

£0.00

Kite Account

£2.00 /Child

Teen Account

£0.00

'Kite' is a children's debit card, and 'Teen' is for teenagers

Starling Bank accounts are free for UK citizens and residents to open. You can spend abroad with the Starling Bank card with zero card transaction fees. This feature alone makes it a cost-effective and convenient option for frequent travellers. It even waives all ATM fees for ATMs in the UK and abroad.

Your other option is to convert your sterling into euros. By opening a euro account with Starling, you can hold, send and receive euros for free. When you spend in the Eurozone with your Starling Bank card, your euro balances (instead of your sterling balance) will then be used

Take a look at our guide to the best prepaid travel cards for the UK to learn more.

Chime: Great Account For US Travelers

Chime is a good debit card for international travel thanks to its no foreign transaction fees. Unlike multi-currency accounts like Revolut (which let you hold local currency), Chime uses the live exchange rate applied by VISA. This rate is close to the mid-market rate, and Chime does not add any extra markup to your purchases.

Monthly Fee

$0

Multi-Currency Balances

No (USD only)

FX Fee

0%

ATM Withdrawal Fee

0%

While Chime waives ATM fees at all MoneyPass, AllPoint, and VISA Plus Alliance ATMs within the United States, this fee waiver does not extend to withdrawals made outside the country. For withdrawals abroad, Chime applies a $2.50 fee per transaction, with a daily withdrawal limit of $515 or its equivalent. This is addition to any fees charged by the ATM owner. Therefore, we recommend Chime primarily for card purchases rather than relying on it for withdrawing cash while traveling internationally.

Best Travel Money Cards in 2023 Compared by Country

In the table below, see our comparison summary of the four best travel cards for 2023 by country:

Starling

Revolut

Wise

Monzo

Multi-Currency Balances

No (GBP only)

30+

50+

No (GBP only)

FX Fee

0%

0%-2%

0.35% - 2.85%

0%

ATM Fee

0%

0%

0%

0%

Card Delivery Fee

£0

£4.99

£7

£0

Visit siteVisit siteVisit siteVisit site

Last updated: 06/19/2023

What's The Best Prepaid Card to Use Abroad?

Christine Roy, Unsplash

Travel cards come in many varieties, such as standard credit cards or debit cards with 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 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 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 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 and its additional services.

Our in-depth review explores Revolut's services in detail.

Travelex

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.

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

Are you 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 lose between 2% to 20% of your money in hidden fees. Keep reading below to make sure you recognize and avoid them.

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

You’re often charged a hidden fee in the form of an alarming exchange rate.

At any given time, there is a so-called “mid-market exchange rate” — this is the real exchange rate you can see on Google. However, the money transfer provider or bank you use to exchange currencies rarely offers this exchange rate. Instead, you will get a much worse exchange rate. They pocket this margin between the actual rate and the poor exchange rate they apply, allowing the bank or money transfer provider to profit from the currency exchange. 

Bureau de change à Londres

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. Carrying the local currency avoids exchange rate margins on every purchase.

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Top Travel Money Tips

  1. Avoid bureaux de change. They charge between 2.15% and 16.6% of the money exchanged.
  2. Always pay in the local currency and never accept the dynamic currency conversion.
  3. Don't use your ordinary debit or credit card unless it's specifically geared toward international use. Doing this will typically cost you between 1.75% and 4.25% per transaction. Instead, use one of the innovative travel money cards below.

By opting for a travel card without FX fees, you can freely swipe your card abroad without worrying about additional charges. However, saving money doesn't stop there. To make the most out of your travel budget, consider using Skyscanner, one of the most powerful flight search engines available that allows you to compare prices from various airlines and find the best deals.

With Skyscanner's user-friendly interface and comprehensive search options, you can discover cheap flights and enjoy your holidays with peace of mind and more money in your pocket.

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 tourist 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 give 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, sterling in the UK, kroner in Denmark, bahts 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 to see how much you can be charged in fees for spending or withdrawing $500 while on your holiday.

Bank

FX Fee

Foreign ATM Fee

Cost /$500 Spent

Barclays

2.75%

  • 2.75%
  • £1.50

≈ $15.65

HSBC

2.75%

  • 2.75%
  • £1.75

≈ $15.95

La Banque Postale

2.30%

  • 2.30%
  • €3.30

≈ $15.2

Deutsche Bank

1.75%

  • 4.25%
  • €7.25

≈ $21.25

UBS

  • 2% fee
  • 1-2% margin

4%

≈ $20

Last updated: 3/7/2023

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 travellers 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.

Need Foreign Cash Anyway?

In many countries, carrying a wad of banknotes is not only useful but necessary to pay your way since not every shop, market stall, or street vendor will accept card payments. In these cases you'll have two options to exchange foreign currency cheaply:

1. Withraw at an ATM

As we've explored in great depth in this article, withdrawing money from a foreign ATM will almost always come with fees — at the very least from the ATM itself, and so it's therefore the best strategy to use a travel debit card that doesn't charge in specific ATM withdraw fees on its own to add insult to injury. That said, if you need cash, we recommend making one large withdrawal rather than multiple smaller ones. This way, you'll be able to dodge the fees being incurred multiple times.

2. Buy Banknotes (at a Reasonable Rate!)

As we've also seen, buying foreign currency at the airport, at foreign bank branches, or in bureaux de change in tourist hotspots can be surprisingly expensive. Still, not all exchange offices are equally pricey. If you're looking for a well-priced way to exchange your cash into foreign currency banknotes before you travel, Change Group will let you order foreign currency online and pick them up at the airport, train station, or a Change Group branch just before you leave for your holiday. A few pick-up locations in the UK include:

  • London centre (multiple locations),
  • Glasgow centre,
  • Oxford centre,
  • Luton Airport,
  • Gatwick Airport,
  • St. Pancras Station.

(Note that Change Group also has locations in the USA, Australia, Germany, Spain, Sweden, Austria, and Finland!)

Although its exchange rates aren't quite as good as using a low-fee debit card like Revolut, Change Group's exchange rates between popular currencies tend to be between 2% to 3%, which is still a lot better than you'll get at the bank or at a touristy bureau de change in the middle or Paris or Prague!

FAQ About the Best Travel Money Cards

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