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Best Travel Money Cards

The 5 Best Cards + What You Must Know

In 7 minutes or less you are going to find the best card for travel for Australia and beyond.

I will show you cards that handle different currencies, pay for things in many currencies and even receive your wages or money from home.

But wait there’s more :-)

Not all cards are awesome - most are not, but we want to highlight the ones that keep costs low if you want to change your money into a different currency or get it out at any ATM.

Some cards also have some great perks like travel insurance.

Also if you are already in Australia - no worries mate - we also cover cards you can get in Australia and use anywhere else.

Jump Links

  1. Why not just use a card from home?
  2. How good cards work
  3. Top Cards Available in Your Country (including if you are in Australia)
  4. Compared (Ultimate Show Down)
  5. Before You Get on the Plane

Please Note: This page may contain affiliate links to some of the services which while costing you nothing do potentially earn us a commission. In this page, we also recommend and include links to services that do not earn us a commission because they too are great services. Ultimately we want to provide the best unbiased info out there.

Best for Australia?

A lot depends on the country you are in right now and your needs but in terms of lowest fees for currency conversion costs, ATM withdrawal fees, an excellent app and great customer service there are 5 great cards to choose from including N26, TransferWise, Revolut, Monzo and Monese. 

These cards are also the best for travel to Europe, the USA or anywhere overseas. The main criteria for using them is the ability to access the internet from your phone so you can use the app! All these cards are going to beat anything on offer from the big banks like Citibank, Commonwealth, HSBC or even Travelex in our opinion and as you will see.

Why not just use a card from home?

Using your bank-issued credit or debit card as the primary mode of payment may seem like a no brainer while working overseas. After all, our cards pave way for easy transactions and save us all the hassle of carrying extra cash when travelling or moving to a foreign country.

But there are (more than) a few things you should keep in mind:

Overall, our main concern is the expensive cost and hidden fees, which tend to sneakily pile up if you keep using your credit or debit cards as the primary modes of payment. If you’re going to work and see as much of this beautiful country as you can, why let major banks fleece you of your hard-earned money?

How good cards work

Travel money cards or currency cards are becoming increasingly popular among frequent travellers and working expats for managing and accessing their funds overseas.

For one, it’s super easy to get one. You simply sign up with a currency card provider of your choice (see comparison below), go through some basic identity checks usually online, and voila – your card is in the mail within a couple of weeks at most.

Next, you load it up with the currency of your choice, you can lock down the exchange rate (if this is a facility provided by the selected company), and manage your expenses or currency transfers easily with an app or online.

Also, these cards are primarily connected to the Visa or Mastercard network, which means they’re widely accepted globally.

But we get it: your head hurts becasue you’re spoilt for choice!

So here are some tips to drown out the noise and pick the one that’s best for YOU.

What should you look for in a currency card?

Even with these filters applied, it can be difficult to choose the right travel money card. That’s why we’ve done an in-depth analysis for you!

Top Cards Available in Your Country (Citizens or Residents)

Below is a brief summary of each service to help you decide.

Europe

N26, Revolut, Monese

UK

TransferWise, Revolut, N26, Monzo, Monese

USA and Canada

TransferWise, Revolut, N26

Australia and NZ 

TransferWise, Revolut

TransferWise

TransferWise is a leading UK-based currency transfer service whose multi-currency debit card is linked to their borderless account. TransferWise lets you hold money in 40+ currencies! Moreover, you have the option to get international bank details for AUD, NZD, USD, GBP as well as EUR.

TransferWise converts your money at the real mid-market exchange rates and keeps their foreign currency conversion fees pretty competitive. Their travel money card is available in UK, Europe, USA, Australia and NZ.

Features
TransferWise Costs and Fees 
Card Issue Fee Free
ATM withdrawal fee Free up to £200 / 30 days; a 2% charge is applicable beyond this monthly limit
Exchange rate Mid-market
Currency conversion fees 0.35 –1%

Spend in currencies in your account

Free (if you're spending online in a currency other than GBP/USD/AUD/NZD/SGD, the seller might charge their own conversion fee)

Revolut

Revolut offers full service current accounts (easily managed via their app) linked to a contact-less debit card. You can conveniently transfer money from your regular bank account to your Revolut account and proceed to use the card just as any debit card for your overseas expenses. Revolut is known for their mid-market exchange rates on foreign transactions without any mark ups (except on weekends).

Their travel money card is available in UK, USA, Bonaire, Europe, Australia, and Singapore.

 Features
Revolut 
Card Issue Fee Free plan; €6.99/m for Premium; or €12.99/m Metal.
ATM withdrawal fee Free up to €200 per month with free card, €400 per month with Premium and up to €600 per month with Metal. Flat fee of 2% for amounts above.
Exchange rate Mid-market
Currency conversion fees Free up to €5000 on Standard card (0.5% above that). No monthly limit on Premium and Metal Cards.

Spend in currencies in your account

Free


N26

N26 is Europe’s first “mobile bank” and based in Berlin. It was launched in 2013 and has gained traction globally within a short time. N26 is one of the few services that actually allow you to start using the app for transactions even before your Mastercard currency card arrives in the mail. N26 is offers mid-market exchange rates on foreign currency transactions, with no markups even on weekends.

You can sign up for the N26 card if you’re from the Eurozone, UK and USA.

Features
N26 Costs and Fees 
Card Issue Fee Free plan; €9.90/m for N26 You plan; or €16.90/m for the Metal plan.
ATM withdrawal fee Foreign currency ATM withdrawals include fees. With the N26 account, there’s a fee of 1.7% of the withdrawal amount. There is no fee for N26 You or N26 Metal members. A €2 fee applies to additional withdrawals beyond their Fair Use Policy.
Exchange rate Mid-market rate
Currency conversion fees N26 doesn’t charge exchange mark-ups or conversion fees.

Spend in currencies in your account

Free

Monzo

Monzo is currently only available to UK residents (you need to be 16 years old or older).

Features
Monzo Costs and Fees 
Card Issue Fee Free
ATM withdrawal fee First £200 in 30 day period is free and a 3% fee is applicable thereafter.
Exchange rate Mastercard exchange rate
Currency conversion fees Monzo doesn’t charge exchange mark-ups or conversion fees.

Spend in currencies in your account

Free

Monese

Monese was publicly launched in the UK in 2015 and offers instant current accounts and contactless Mastercard debit cards to UK and Eurozone residents. Monese is known for providing real-time, wholesale exchange rates on foreign currency transactions globally with low exchange fees.

Features
Monese 
Card Issue Fee Free for the Simple Plan; €4.95/month for Monese Classic; and €14.95/month for Monese Premium
ATM withdrawal fee £200/30 days on the Simple plan; £800/30 days on the Monese Classic plan, a flat 2% fee is applicable thereafter beyond these limits; no ATM withdrawal fees on the Premium plan.
Exchange rate Wholesale exchange rate
Currency conversion fees 2% on the Simple Plan (€2/£2 minimum); 0.5% on the Classic plan; and no fee for the Monese Premium plan

Spend in currencies in your account

Free

Compared (Ultimate Show Down)

All the services listed above have pros and cons. But if you want the best bang for your buck, keep both the big picture as well as your specific usage requirements in mind.

That being said, here’s a quick snapshot of all the travel money cards we’ve covered so far.

 

TransferWise

Revolut

N26

Monzo

Monese

Card Availability

UK, Europe, USA, Australia, NZ

UK, USA, Europe, Australia, and Singapore

UK, Eurozone, USA

UK only

UK and Eurozone

Account Opening Fee

Free

Free plan; €6.99/m for Premium; or €12.99/m Metal.

Free plan; €9.90/m for N26 You plan; or €16.90/m for the Metal plan.

Free

Free for the Simple Plan; €4.95/month for Monese Classic; and €14.95/month for Monese Premium

ATM withdrawal fee

Free up to £200 / 30 days

2% over £200 / 30 days

Free up to €200/m with free plan; €400/ m with Premium plan; or up to €600/ m with Metal plan. Flat fee of 2% for amounts above.

1.7% of withdrawal amount on the free plan; no fees on N26 You and Metal plans. fee of 1.7% of the withdrawal amount. A €2 fee applies to additional withdrawals beyond their Fair Use Policy.

Free up to  £200 / 30 days; 3% fee thereafter

£200/30 days on the Simple plan; £800/30 days on the Monese Classic plan, a flat 2% fee is applicable thereafter beyond these limits; no ATM withdrawal fees on the Premium plan.

Exchange rate

Interbank Rate (same as mid-market rate)

Interbank Rate (+0.5% to all major currencies)

Interbank Rate

Mastercard exchange rate

Wholesale exchange rate

Currency conversion fees

0.35 –1%

Free up to €5000 on Standard card (0.5% above that). No monthly limit on Premium and Metal Cards.

N26 doesn’t charge exchange mark-ups or conversion fees.

Monzo doesn’t charge exchange mark-ups or conversion fees.

2% on the Simple Plan (€2/£2 minimum); 0.5% on the Classic plan; and no fee for the Monese Premium plan

Spend in currencies in

your account

Free

Free

Free

Free

Free

What’s unique

Wide availability and true multi-currency card with over 40+ options

Option to avail travel insurance at a low cost

Full service current accounts that can be managed via their mobile app

Fully authorized and regulated digital bank; Apple Pay and Google Pay integrations

Easy to set up direct debits for monthly expenses

Potential deal breaker

Higher currency conversion fees

Surcharge on FX rates on weekends

Customer service

Unexpected account freeze

Customer support

 

Before You Get on the Plane

Travel money cards are great and provide a distinct advantage over bank-issued credit or debit cards. But remember, not all currency cards are made equal. To ensure you’re getting the best deal, compare the exchange rates, subscription fees, and cash withdrawal fees before zeroing in on a service.

Apart from that, here are some other things to watch out for:

During our in-depth analysis, we noted that some Monzo customers (as well as users of their competitors) had struck out with unexpected account freezes. However, we noted that it’s essentially not the companies but the regulations governing these financial institutions (to prevent theft, money laundering or terrorism) that can lead to unprecedented account hold ups.

So here’s a simple solution: avoid putting all your eggs in one basket

We know it can be frustrating when that happens, especially when your account has no reason to be flagged. That’s why we recommend expats to save money on day to day transactions with a travel money card of their choosing as well as have a backup option to hold the majority of their funds. Also, remember to take up employment as a working holiday maker or an expat in the approved seasonal industry or with a registered business sponsor only, respectively, to rule out account holds after receiving your wages.

If money transfers are the main reason for getting the card, we found that specialist money transfer companies like OFX, TorFX and TransferWise (the money transfer side of the business) are going to be better if you are transferring large or critical amounts.

Another issue that can lead to a crummy experience with any of the service providers is poor customer service (according to Trustpilot reviews). However, on digging deeper, we noticed that while some services may have a track record for dodgy customer service (and that’s unacceptable when your money’s on the line). Fortunately the card providers featured here all seem to aim to resolve issues as soon as possible.

So, if you ever find yourself on the other side of bad customer service, make sure you have a backup option to fall back on as well as the necessary documentation to sail through the resolution process. And lastly, don’t forget to read the fine print of your chosen service provider as this will largely dictate which issues can be flagged and resolved through their customer service portals.

Happy Travels!


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