The 6 Best Travel Money Cards for Travelling Overseas 2024
If you’re planning on travelling overseas, getting a travel money card can help you cut the costs usually involved in spending foreign currencies.
Travel money cards can include travel debit, prepaid and credit cards, which each work slightly differently, but which all come with features optimised for reducing the costs of spending and withdrawing cash overseas. This guide covers everything there is to know about the different travel card categories, plus we’ll introduce 6 of our top travel card picks so you can see if any suit you.
Wise - our pick for travel debit card when travelling overseas
Wise accounts can hold and exchange 40+ currencies, and you can get a linked Wise card for a one time delivery fee. Top up your account in GBP and switch to the currency of your choice before you travel. All currency conversion uses the mid-market exchange rate, with low fees from 0.41%. Here are some of the pros and cons of the Wise travel money debit card, to help you decide if it’s right for you.
Hold and exchange 40+ currencies
No fee to spend any currency you hold, low conversion fees from 0.41%
Mid market exchange rate on all currency conversion
Some fee free ATM withdrawals every month
No ongoing fees and no interest to pay
7 GBP delivery fee
No option to earn points or rewards
What is a travel money card?
Travel money cards work much like any other credit or debit card you might have, but are designed to be easy to use when you’re overseas or spending in a foreign currency. You’ll be able to use a travel money card to spend and make ATM withdrawals while you’re travelling abroad, or when you shop online with foreign retailers. Most cards have contactless technology and can also be added to a wallet like Apple Pay for mobile spending, too.
The features you get with a travel money card can vary a lot, but you’ll often find you can hold a balance in multiple currencies, pay low or no foreign transaction fees, or earn cash back and rewards overseas.
What are different types of travel cards?
Travel cards can broadly be split into the following categories. We’ll walk through the features and benefits of each in a moment:
Quick summary: Best travel cards for travelling overseas
UK customers can pick from a good selection of different travel card types and providers. This guide includes an overview and in detail reviews of 2 of our favourites from each travel card category to help you choose. Here’s what we’ll be looking at:
Wise travel debit card: Hold 40+ currencies with no ongoing fees, and spend with the mid-market exchange rate with no foreign transaction fee and low conversion costs from 0.43%
Revolut travel debit card: Hold 25+ currencies in one of 4 different plan types, including some with no monthly fee, and some which come with ongoing costs but which unlock more benefits and no fee transactions
Post Office travel money card: Hold 22 currencies, with no fee to spend a currency you hold - 3% fee applies if you don’t have the currency required in your account
Monese travel money card: Hold a balance in GBP, then spend in foreign currencies with no fees, up to your plan’s limit. Different plans on offer, including Simple which has no ongoing fees to pay
Barclays Rewards Visa travel credit card: Spend with the Visa exchange rate, and earn 0.25% cash back, with no foreign transaction fee and no cash advance fee. Interest and penalties can apply
Halifax Clarity Mastercard travel credit card: No foreign transaction fee, no annual fee, and no cash advance fee if you withdraw money at an ATM. Variable interest and penalties can apply
Travel money cards for travelling overseas compared
Here’s a brief comparison of all the cards we’ve picked out - in a moment we’ll also look at each card in more detail.
|Overseas ATM fee
|7 GBP order and delivery fee
|2 withdrawals, to 200 GBP value per month for free, then 0.5 GBP + 1.75%
|Free to spend currencies you hold in the account
|Mid-market rate with conversion costs from 0.43%
|Variable fees may apply depending on account plan
|No fees to plan limit, 2% fair usage fee may apply once you exhaust your plan no fee limit
|No fee to spend currencies you hold in the account
Mid-market rate to plan limit
Fair usage fees of 0.5% - 1% apply after you exhaust your plan limit
|No fee for spending up to your account limit, which varies based on plan chosen
|Network exchange rate
|Fee varies by currency - equivalent of around 1.5 GBP per withdrawal
Free to spend currencies you hold in the account
3% fee to spend a currency you don’t hold in your account
Variable exchange rate depending on how you top up
|No cash advance fee, but interest may apply
|28.9% representative APR
|No fee - interest may apply
|Network exchange rate
|No cash advance fee, but interest applies instantly
|Variable based on credit score
|No fee - interest may apply
|Network exchange rate
The good news is that you’ve got lots of different travel cards available in the UK, from specialist providers, banks and card issuers. The right one for you will depend a lot on the way you like to manage your money - but by doing a bit of research you’ll be able to find a good match for your preferences, even travel cards with no foreign transaction fees.
Generally, travel debit cards can be cheap and flexible, but you’ll need to have your travel money saved in advance, so you can top up your account. Credit cards have the advantage that you can spend now and repay later - but are usually more expensive overall between interest and fees. This guide walks through some key points about each of these travel money card types, and proposes a couple of options you might want to check out and compare.
Travel Debit Cards for travelling overseas
Travel debit cards can be ordered online from specialist providers, and are usually linked to a digital multi-currency account. Add money to your account in GBP and then you can either convert to the currency you need in your destination if the card supports it, or just leave your money in pounds so the card’s autoconvert technology can do the conversion for you at the point of payment.
Travel debit cards are generally cheap, secure and reliable, but the exact range of supported currencies, and the way the card fee structure works, can vary a bit depending on the provider you select.
Travel debit card option 1: Wise
There’s no fee to open a personal Wise account, but you’ll pay a one time card order fee of 7 GBP. After that there’s no minimum balance and no monthly charge. Wise accounts can support 40+ currencies for holding and exchange, with low fees from 0.43% when you convert currencies, and transparent ATM fees when you exhaust the monthly free transactions available with your account. If the Wise card can’t support the currency you need to spend in your destination, you can just leave your money in pounds and the card will convert for you at the point of payment.
No fee to open a personal Wise account, no minimum balance requirement
7 GBP one time fee to get your Wise card
2 withdrawals, to 200 GBP value per month for free, then 0.5 GBP + 1.75%
Hold 40+ currencies, convert between them with the mid-market rate
Get local account details to receive GBP, NZD, EUR, USD and a selection of other major currencies conveniently
Travel debit card option 2: Revolut
Revolut has a selection of different account tiers for personal customers in the UK, from Standard plans with no monthly fee, to the top end Ultra plan which has a 45 GBP/month fee and comes with loads of perks including a fancy platinum plated card. You can hold around 25 currencies, and convert currencies with the mid-market rate to your plan’s allowance. The higher account tiers also come with extras like various different forms of complimentary insurance, discounts, cash back opportunities and travel benefits. If the currency you need can’t be held as a balance in your Revolut account you can still use your card to pay - just let the card do the conversion for you with the live rate at the time you transact, plus any applicable fair usage fee.
No monthly fee for a Standard Revolut account, or upgrade to one of 4 different account plans which have monthly fees running from 3.99 GBP/month to 45 GBP/month
All accounts have some no fee weekday currency conversion with fair usage fees after that which are 1% for Standard plan holders
Standard plan holders can withdraw 200 GBP overseas per month for free
Hold around 25 currencies
Pros and cons of using debit travel cards when travelling overseas
|Pros of using debit travel cards when travelling overseas
|Cons of using debit travel cards when travelling overseas
✅ Hold and exchange 25+ currencies in the same account
✅ Spend in 150+ countries - including spending in currencies the card can’t support for holding balances
✅ Order your physical card and get instant access to a virtual card for mobile payments
✅ Accounts can be opened and managed digitally
✅ Safe for spending and withdrawals when travelling overseas
❌ Some account plans have ongoing monthly costs
❌ Transaction and currency conversion fees may apply
❌ You may need to wait a few days for delivery of your physical card
How much does a travel debit card cost?
Travel debit cards are usually free or cheap to order, and often offer low or no cost currency conversion.
To give an example - Wise has a one time fee to get your card, but then no monthly charges or minimum balance requirements. Currency conversion uses the mid-market exchange rate with low fees from 0.43%. Revolut has 4 different account plans, including one with no ongoing charges, or several different account options with a monthly fee in exchange for extra perks and benefits. Each account has some no-fee currency exchange, but fair usage fees of 0.5% - 1% apply if you exceed your allowance.
How to choose the best travel debit card for travelling overseas?
There’s no single best travel debit card for travelling overseas, the right one for you will depend a lot on the way you prefer to transact and manage your money.
The key things to consider include whether you’re happy to pay a monthly fee for a card or would prefer to have an option with no ongoing fees for occasional use. You’ll also want to look at the transaction costs you’ll need to pay, and what exchange rate is applied when converting currencies.
If you’re struggling to decide whether a travel debit card suits you, the Wise card and the Standard Revolut card both offer no ongoing costs, so are a fairly low risk and low commitment way to test out your options.
Is there a spending limit with a travel debit card when travelling overseas?
You’ll probably find there’s a spending limit for your travel debit card. However, this limit can vary quite significantly, depending on the provider you pick. You can also usually adjust your spending limits for security in the provider’s app which means you can set the limit you’re comfortable with.
For the providers mentioned above, Revolut UK travel debit card holders have some spending caps based on merchant and transaction type. This applies to things like sending money to others, buying travellers cheques or money orders, and betting. Wise caps monthly card spending at 30,000 GBP but you can also move your limit lower if you’d like to, for security reasons.
ATM withdrawals with a travel debit card are also likely to be subject to limits. Revolut applies a 3,000 GBP limit based on any given 24 hour period. Wise ATM withdrawal limits are 4,000 GBP per month. Both providers allow you to make some no fee ATM withdrawals monthly, but the exact amount you can withdraw will depend on your account type.
Prepaid Travel Cards for travelling overseas
[Prepaid travel cards] (https://exiap.co.uk/guides/best-prepaid-travel-cards) work in a similar way to travel debit cards, but may have slightly different features and charging structures. The way prepaid travel cards work varies - for example, with the Post Office Travel Money Card, you can collect your card in person at a branch and add any of 22 currencies to it for spending and withdrawals.
The Monese Travel Money Card only lets you hold GBP, EUR and RON, but allows you to spend in foreign currencies with no fees up to a limit specified in your account plan. This range of different functionalities means you can pick the card that works best for your specific needs.
Prepaid travel card option 1: Post Office Travel Money Card
You can order a Post Office Travel Money Card online or pick one up in person at a branch as long as you have a valid ID on you. You’ll be able to top up and hold in 22 currencies, although bear in mind a fee applies if you add money in GBP. There’s no fee to add foreign currencies. The exchange rate used when you top up or convert may include a markup, but once you hold a currency balance in your account you can spend it with no further charges.
22 currencies are supported for holding and exchange
No fee to spend a currency you hold on your card
3% cross border fee if you spend in an unsupported currency
Small ATM withdrawal fee which varies by currency withdrawn, about the equivalent of 1.5 GBP per withdrawal
Manage your account and card from the Post Office travel money app
Prepaid travel card option 2: Monese Travel Money Card
Monese offers several different account plans which come with linked cards you can use while overseas. Depending on the plan you pick you’ll get some free international spending and some free ATM withdrawals. Simple account plans have no monthly fees, but are more limited in terms of no-fee transactions compared to the other account tiers.
Pick the account plan that suits your needs, including a Simple plan with no monthly costs and some plans which do have a fee to pay every month
Accounts offered in GBP, EUR and RON
Simple account plan holders can spend up to 2,000 GBP a month in foreign currencies with no fees - other account plans have unlimited overseas spending with no extra fees
All accounts have some fee free ATM withdrawals every month, with variable limits based on account plan
Virtual cards available
Pros and cons of using prepaid travel cards when travelling overseas
|Pros of using prepaid travel cards when travelling overseas
|Cons of using prepaid travel cards when travelling overseas
✅ Secure way to hold a balance and make overseas payments
✅ Cards available with no monthly fees
✅ Usually free to spend a currency you hold
✅ Issued on globally supported networks for easy spending and withdrawals
✅ Some cards can be picked up instantly if you’re in a hurry
❌ Ongoing charges may apply to your account
❌ Not all providers offer multi-currency holding options
❌ Transaction fees apply to most accounts
How much does a prepaid card cost?
A prepaid travel card could help you save money compared to using a bank debit or credit card when you travel abroad, but the chances are there will still be a few fees to pay. That could be ongoing monthly fees, currency conversion charges, or fees when you top up, particularly if you top up in cash. Weighing up a few different prepaid travel cards is the only way to decide which is the best value for your particular needs.
How to choose the best travel prepaid card for travelling overseas?
The best prepaid travel card for travelling overseas depends on your spending patterns. The Post Office Travel Money Card has the advantage that you can convert your money to the currency you need in your destination and see your budget instantly. However if you don’t do this, you might end up paying a 3% fee. Monese has different plan types, so has the flexibility to allow you to pick the one you want - but you can’t hold a foreign currency balance aside from RON and EUR.
Prepaid travel card spending limit
The Post Office travel card lets you top up to 5,000 GBP at a time, with the maximum balance at any given time set at 10,000 GBP, or 30,000 GBP annually. Monese accounts may have different limits based on the tier you pick - usually set at a maximum holding balance at any time of 40,000 GBP. You may be limited to spending up to 7,000 GBP a day, depending on your account type.
With the Post Office card, you can make up to the equivalent of 300 GBP maximum daily withdrawals and each withdrawal costs the equivalent of 1.5 GBP. Monese accounts may have a maximum ATM withdrawal of 300 GBP a day, depending on the specific account you pick, so it’s worth reading the fee schedule carefully to understand the details.
Travel Credit Cards for travelling overseas
Travel credit cards are like other credit cards in that you’ll be set a spending limit which you can not exceed on a monthly basis. At the end of the month you’ll have to pay back your bill in full to avoid interest and penalties. When you spend overseas your foreign currency transaction is converted back to GBP to add to your monthly charge - often with a foreign transaction fee added, which can be around 3%. Travel credit cards often waive this foreign transaction fee, which makes them better value for foreign currency spending compared to other credit cards. However, as with any other credit card, you might find you have fees to pay in the form of interest, particularly if you use your card in an ATM, making this a relatively expensive way of managing your money internationally.
Travel credit card option 1: Barclaycard Rewards Visa
The Barclaycard Rewards Visa credit card is a good, straightforward option for UK customers looking for a credit card which does not have foreign transaction fees, and which doesn’t have an annual fee. As with any credit card, some costs can apply including interest fees if you don’t clear your bill monthly, but you’ll be able to earn 0.25% cash back on all your card spending at home and abroad.
No annual fee, with 0.25% cash back on card spending
Currency exchange uses the network rate and no foreign transaction fee
No ATM withdrawal fee - but interest can still apply
28.9% representative APR, with penalty fees for late payments
Secure spending with extra protection on some purchases
Travel credit card option 2: Halifax Clarity Mastercard
The Halifax Clarity Mastercard has a variable interest rate which is based on your creditworthiness, but doesn’t use different rates for different transaction types as some cards do. There’s no foreign transaction fee when you spend or withdraw in foreign currencies, but bear in mind that an ATM operator might charge a fee, and interest accrues instantly for cash advance transactions.
No foreign transaction fee when spending or making a cash withdrawal overseas
Interest applies instantly when making cash withdrawals
Same interest rate applies on all purchase categories
Variable APR based on your credit score - you’ll need to check your eligibility online to see the APR you’d be offered
Spending is covered by the Consumer Credit act which means extra protections for purchases from 100 GBP to 30,000 GBP in value
Pros and cons of using credit cards when travelling overseas
|Pros of using credit cards when travelling overseas
|Cons of using credit cards when travelling overseas
✅ Spread the cost of your travel over several months
✅ Check eligibility for a card online with no impact on your credit score
✅ You may pay no foreign transaction fee
✅ Can be used where a payment guarantee is required
✅ Network exchange rates usually apply, which are pretty fair
❌ Interest can accrue instantly on ATM withdrawals
❌ Interest charged on POS spending if you don’t repay in full every month
❌ Eligibility rules apply
How much does a travel credit card cost?
Credit cards are convenient and secure - but they’ll also often be the most expensive way to pay for things. That’s because you may end up paying an annual fee, interest costs, foreign transaction fees, cash advance charges, and penalties if you’re late to repay. The cards we’ve picked out above have the advantage that they have no annual fee, no foreign transaction fee and no cash advance fee - but if you use your card in an ATM you’ll start to accrue interest instantly, which does mean paying more in the end.
How to choose the best travel credit card for travelling overseas?
The best travel credit card for travelling overseas depends on your preferences and situation. Because there’s an eligibility screening process with credit cards, you may find you can’t get approved for some cards if you don’t have an established and strong credit history. It’s generally worth looking for a card with no annual fee, and the lowest available interest rate, just in case you can’t always repay your bill monthly.
Travel credit card spending limit
Your travel credit card spending limit will be set by the card provider, and will depend on your credit score. You’ll be shown details of your spending limit when you’re approved for a travel credit card.
The cards we’ve looked at earlier don’t charge a cash advance fee, but this is a common cost when using a credit card at an ATM, so worth looking out for when you select any credit card. It’s also worth noting that it’s very common for ATM withdrawals to start accruing interest instantly, so you’ll end up needing to repay some charges whenever you use your credit card in an ATM.
How much money do I need when travelling overseas?
Naturally, the costs of your trip can vary wildly depending on where you’re going, how long for, and what you’ll be up to during your holiday. Costs to consider when budgeting include:
Any visa fees, or travel health costs such as vaccinations, if required
Travel or medical insurance
Flights or other travel costs - don’t forget to buy baggage allowance in advance if you need it
Travel to and from the airport, or parking if you drive yourself
Local SIM or roaming data
Accommodation, plus any local tourist taxes
Food and drinks while you’re away
Activities and entry costs to tourist sites
Travel within the country - taxis or bus rides for example
Kennels or any other requirements to look after pets back home
Conclusion: Which travel money card is best for travelling overseas?
Travelling overseas is exciting but does need a bit of planning. In particular, working out how you’ll manage your money while you’re away is essential if you don’t want to get ripped off by poor exchange rates, pay high fees, or end up having a stressful time with money changers on arrival.
Travel cards can help you avoid all these potential pitfalls, manage your travel budget flexibly, and pay less for your trip in the end. Consider a Wise travel debit card for convenient, low cost spending and withdrawals with ways to pay and get paid in foreign currencies. Or as an alternative, check out a Monese travel prepaid card for free currency conversion to your specific plan limit, or a travel credit card like the Barclays Rewards Visa for cash back opportunities and ways to spread your costs over several months if you need to. No matter what type of travel card suits you best, there’s going to be an option for you - use this guide to figure out which is your perfect match, and your travel money could take you further in the end.
FAQ - Best travel cards for travelling overseas
Can you withdraw cash with a credit card when travelling overseas?
Yes. You can use your credit card to make an ATM withdrawal at any ATM where your card network is accepted when travelling overseas. However, bear in mind you’ll pay interest instantly when you use a credit card in an ATM. Choosing to withdraw with a low cost travel debit card from Wise or Revolut may bring down your overall fees.
Can I use a debit card when travelling overseas?
It’s unusual to find you can’t use a card to pay in tourist areas in more developed countries, towns and cities. However, card usage varies widely and in many places, cash is still king. Because of that, having multiple ways to pay is essential and carrying both a prepaid or travel debit card and some foreign currency in cash is a smart plan.
Are prepaid cards safe?
Yes. Prepaid cards are not linked to your normal UK bank account which means that they’re safe to use. Even if you were unlucky and someone stole your card while you're travelling overseas, they would not be able to access your main account - and you could freeze your prepaid card in the app easily if you needed to.
What is the best way to pay when travelling overseas?
Paying for things with a specialist travel debit, prepaid or credit card when travelling overseas is most convenient. However, having a few options for payment is a good plan, just in case your preferred payment method can’t be used for some reason. Consider getting a travel card from a provider like Wise or Revolut, which has some no fee ATM withdrawals so you can also conveniently get cash as a back up, and for when card payments aren’t offered.