Barclays travel card review - 2023
Barclays standard issue Visa debit cards can be used anywhere you see the Visa symbol displayed. However, to give travellers in the euro area and to the US more options, Barclays also has a Travel Wallet you can use to hold and spend USD and EUR, using your regular Visa card.
This guide works through how the Barclays travel wallet and card works, including key features and fees. Plus, we'll also look at the Wise international prepaid card and the Revolut debit card for comparison.
Barclays travel card: key features
Barclays doesn’t offer a prepaid travel card for UK customers - instead, if you have a Barclays account and access to the Barclays app, you can set up a dedicated Travel Wallet to convert and hold US dollars and euros, which you can then spend with no foreign transaction fee, using your normal Barclays Visa card. This has the advantage that you can convert travel money in advance, and lock in the exchange rate - but there is a fee involved you’ll want to know about. More on that in a moment.
First, here’s a quick overview of the pros and cons of the Barclays travel wallet and card:
✅ No foreign transaction fee to spend currencies you hold
✅ Use your regular Barclays debit card - no need to order anything new
✅ No fee to set up your travel wallet
✅ Spending with the travel wallet overseas attracts lower fees compared to using your regular card directly
❌Only USD and EUR holding supported
❌ 2.75% fee to convert GBP to USD or EUR within the wallet
❌2.99% fee to spend currencies you don’t hold
❌ You’ll need to have a Barclays account set up already to benefit
The Barclays travel wallet can offer a new way for existing Barclays customers to spend USD and EUR. You can convert your GBP in advance so you see your travel budget right away, and once you’ve converted there’s no Barclays fee to spend the money, and no foreign transaction fee when making a cash withdrawal. However, this doesn’t make the experience completely free - there’s a 2.75% charge to switch currencies in the first place.
As an alternative which can come with more flexibility and lower overall costs, take a look at travel debit cards from specialist providers like Wise and Revolut. Providers like these allow you to hold dozens of currencies in one account - and you may also benefit from a better exchange rate, lower conversion costs, and no foreign transaction fees. More on that later.
Who is the Barclays travel card for?
The Barclays travel card could be handy if you already have a Barclays account and want to spend with your existing card, in the US or euro area. However, there are fees to convert to USD or EUR in your Barclays wallet, so it may not be the cheapest option available, even if it is pretty convenient.
What is the Barclays travel card?
The Barclays travel wallet supports EUR and USD, and you can then use the standard Barclays debit card that comes with your Barclays account to spend directly in either of these currencies.
If you’re an existing Barclays customer with access to the Barclays app, you can easily set up a travel wallet with just your phone. You can then convert to either of the supported currencies, with a lower fee compared to the foreign transaction fee imposed when you spend overseas with your normal Barclays debit card.
Is the Barclays travel card a multi-currency card?
Yes. The Barclays travel wallet lets you hold GBP, USD and EUR side by side, for spending with your regular Barclays debit card.
Alternatives to Barclays travel card
With only a couple of major currencies covered, the Barclays travel wallet and card isn’t the most flexible option out there. Let’s look at the Barclays travel card head to head against the Wise card and the Revolut card - alternative multi-currency card and account options you may want to consider:
|Barclays travel wallet/card||Wise debit card||Revolut debit card|
|Availability||Set up in the Barclays app - available for Barclays account holders only||Order online or in-app||Order online or in-app|
|Card order fee||Not applicable - you can just use your regular Barclays debit card||7 GBP||No fee|
|Monthly fees||No fee for this service - Barclays account fees may apply for the underlying account||No fee||0 GBP - 12.99 GBP|
|International Money Transfers|
No transfer fee for online payments - exchange rate markups may apply
In branch payments - 25 GBP
|Fees from 0.41%, 70 + countries covered||Fees from 0.3% to 2%, 40+ countries covered|
No Barclays foreign transaction fee for international withdrawals in a currency you hold; ATM operator may impose their own fee
ATM fees may apply based on the underlying Barclays account you hold
|2 withdrawals to 200 GBP/month fee free, then 0.5 GBP + 1.75% after that||Some free withdrawals based on account plan, 2% after that|
|Currency Exchange||Barclays or network rate, depending on transaction type||Mid-market rate||Mid-market rate to plan limit|
|Fee to spend an unsupported currency||2.99%||From 0.41%||Free to plan limit, then 0.5% fair usage fee applies|
|Supported Currencies for holding and exchange||EUR and USD supported||50+ currencies supported||25+ currencies supported|
Information taken from Barclays travel wallet and card desktop site and Barclays - using your debit card abroad guide, Wise pricing page, Revolut international transfer fees.pdf) and Revolut UK; correct at time of writing, 17th May 2023
The Barclays travel wallet could be convenient if you’re headed to the US or euro area and want to continue to spend with your normal Barclays debit card.
However, there are fees to switch from pounds to the currency you need, which you’ll need to consider. Use this guide to get to grips with the Barclays travel wallet and how it works, and to see if it might suit you on your next tip. To help you with your research, we’ll take a closer look at Wise and Revolut as possible Barclays travel card alternatives, next.
Wise offers flexible multi-currency accounts and prepaid international cards, managed from your phone or laptop. Open an account online, hold 50+ currencies, spend in 170+ countries with your Wise card, and send payments to 70+ countries easily. There are no ongoing fees or foreign transaction fees to pay. Just top up in GBP or the supported currency of your choice, and switch to the currency you need with the mid-market exchange rates and low fees starting at 0.41% - or let the Wise card autoconvert for you at the point of purchase, with the same rate and low fees.
You can open a Revolut account for free, without any monthly fees. Alternatively, you have the option to pay a monthly charge to access extra benefits and enjoy some additional free transactions. All accounts can hold and exchange over 25 currencies, and include a connected card for easy spending and withdrawals. Currency exchange uses the mid-market exchange rate, subject to the limits specified in your account plan. Once your account's free exchange limit is used up, a fair usage charge of 0.5% applies.
Barclays travel card fees & spending limits
If you’ve already got a Barclays account and linked debit card, you can just use your regular card to spend overseas without opening the Barclays travel wallet. However, in this case you’ll pay a foreign transaction fee of 2.99% every time you spend in a foreign currency. The Barclays travel wallet, used with your normal card, cuts down the costs of spending USD and EUR slightly, which can mean you save compared to using your normal Barclays card directly in the US or euro area.
You’ll need to have a Barclays account and the Barclays app to open a travel wallet - and any fees that would usually apply to hold and maintain your underlying account will still apply once you have a travel wallet set up.
Here are the costs of using the Barclays travel wallet with your card when you’re travelling:
|Fees & charges||Barclays travel wallet and card|
|Convert sterling to EUR or USD in your Barclays travel wallet||2.75%|
|ATM cash withdrawals in a currency you hold||ATM fees as set in your Barclays account apply - No Barclays foreign transaction fee to pay|
|ATM limits||As set by your Barclays account - 300 GBP is the standard limit, but you can change this in the app if you’d prefer|
|Spending in a currency you hold||No Barclays foreign transaction fee to pay|
|Foreign transaction fee for spending or withdrawals in a currency you don’t hold||2.99%|
|USD and EUR holding balance||Variable - details will be shown in the Barclays app|
|Card annual fee||Variable fees as set in your Barclays account apply|
|Account maintenance fee||Variable fees as set in your Barclays account apply|
Information correct at time of writing - 17th May 2023
The Barclays travel wallet is an extra offered to Barclays customers, which you can open in the Barclays app as a holding facility for EUR and USD. The exchange rate used to convert from pounds to dollars or euros will be set by Barclays, and will include a fee of 2.75%.
You’ll be able to see the exchange rate and fee that apply when you convert your funds in the Barclays wallet - it’s worth checking the rate against the mid-market rate that you’ll find on Google, to see if any extra fees have been added here.
If you’re spending a currency you don’t hold, or if you don’t hold enough balance in the currency you’re spending, your card will convert your GBP balance automatically, using the Visa rate and a foreign transaction fee of 2.99%.
How to get a Barclays travel wallet and card
To get a Barclays travel wallet and card you’ll need to already have an eligible Barclays account, and you’ll need to have the Barclays app up and running. Eligible accounts must be held in sole names, joint accounts aren’t permitted.
To access the app you need to be over 16 - and generally, to open a Barclays account in the first place you’ll have to be a UK resident. Assuming you meet all the eligibility criteria, you can open your travel wallet simply by logging into the Barclays app, tapping Cards, and selecting the option to open a travel wallet.
What documents and information will you need?
To add a travel wallet to your existing Barclays account, you won’t need to provide any extra documents or information, as long as you’ve already completed the verification processes to set up your main Barclays account.
How to use a Barclays travel wallet and card?
Once you’ve set up your Barclays travel wallet you can simply convert the amount of money you want to spend in euros or dollars, and hold it in the wallet until you’re ready to spend. Then once you’re overseas, just use your debit card as usual, and the euro or dollar amount charged will be automatically deducted from your wallet balance with no extra fee.
If your spending is deducted from GBP instead - for example, because you don’t hold enough in EUR or USD to cover the costs - there’s a 2.99% fee to pay.
How to withdraw cash with a Barclays travel card?
Withdraw cash with your Barclays travel wallet and card at an ATM just as you would in the UK - insert your normal Barclays debit card, enter your PIN and confirm the withdrawal amount. Funds will be deducted from the EUR or USD balance automatically.
There’s no Barclays foreign transaction fee to make an international ATM withdrawal from a currency you hold in the travel wallet (USD/EUR), although the operator of the specific ATM might add their own charges.
Is the card safe?
Yes. Barclays is a large, regulated and trusted bank - which means the travel wallet is a safe way to hold and spend your euros or dollars.
How to use the Barclays travel card overseas?
Use your Barclays travel wallet to spend with your normal Barclays debit card in EUR and USD, with no foreign transaction fee at the point of purchase. There’s a 2.99% foreign transaction fee to spend a currency you don’t hold in your wallet.
Conclusion: is the Barclays travel card worth it?
The Barclays travel wallet lets you extend your normal Barclays GBP account to hold EUR and USD as well as pounds. You can get a wallet in the Barclays app easily if you’re already a Barclays customer, and continue to spend on your normal Visa card, with lower fees compared to using the card directly in the US or euro area.
However, the Barclays travel wallet and card isn’t very flexible, and the fees are still pretty high at 2.75% to switch to EUR and USD for later spending. Compare the Barclays travel wallet against alternatives like Wise and Revolut which offer flexible multi-currency accounts with lower currency conversion costs.
Wise accounts can hold 50+ currencies, while currency exchange uses the mid-market rate with fees from 0.41%. Revolut accounts hold 25+ currencies, and you can get currency exchange at the mid-market rate to your plan limit, with a fair usage fee of 0.5% after that. Both providers also offer linked payment and withdrawal cards. Overall, that can mean more flexibility when you travel, and lower costs.
Barclays travel card review FAQ
The Barclays travel wallet is opened in the Barclays app, and lets you spend USD and EUR conveniently with your normal Barclays debit card. A fee of 2.75% applies to switch from GBP to dollars and euros, which means it’s not necessarily the cheapest option out there. As a comparison on flexibility and fees, check out alternatives from providers like Wise and Revolut.
The Barclays travel wallet and card is designed for international use in the US and euro area. You can open a wallet and switch from pounds to dollars or euros for holding, and then spend these currencies with no extra fees with your normal Barclays debit card. If you’re looking for more, try the multi-currency accounts from services like Wise or Revolut, to hold, exchange and spend dozens of currencies with low fees.
The Barclays travel wallet is a bit limited as it only supports USD and EUR. If you want a broader selection of supported currencies, you might consider travel debit cards from providers like Wise or Revolut for accounts with no ongoing fees and dozens of supported currencies.