Sainsbury's Travel Card Review - 2023
Sainsbury's travel cards are available for next day collection in in-store exchange bureaux, or for home delivery, and can hold and spend 15 popular currencies. Not sure if the Sainsbury’s travel money card is right for you? Read on.
We’ll cover the Sainsbury's travel card key features, benefits, fees and limits, and we'll also look at the Wise international prepaid card and the Revolut debit card for comparison, so you can check which is best for you.
Sainsbury's travel card: key features
The Sainsbury's travel card supports 15 popular currencies and can be collected in just a day from your local Sainsbury’s store. However, even though it’s convenient, there are some fees to consider - including a high foreign transaction fee for spending a currency you don’t hold.
Let’s start with a quick overview of the pros and cons of the Sainsbury's travel card:
✅ No foreign transaction fee to spend currencies you hold
✅ Up to 15 currencies supported
✅ Mastercard for global acceptance
✅ No Sainsbury’s ATM fee
✅ No fee to top up a foreign currency wallet (exchange rate margin applies)
❌Top up fees apply for adding a GBP balance
❌5.75% fee if you don’t hold the currency you’re spending in
❌Inactivity fees apply after 18 months of inactivity
❌ No rewards or cash back opportunities
Using a travel card when you’re away can add an extra level of security to your spending as your card isn’t connected to your main UK bank account. The Sainsbury’s card also offers 15 holding currencies, with no fee to spend the currencies you hold. However, there are drawbacks - including a fee to convert to the supported currencies in the first place, and a 5.75% fee to spend any currency you don’t hold in your account.
If you’re thinking of getting a travel debit card you might want to compare the options from providers with broader multi-currency account options, like Wise and Revolut. Currency conversion costs can be lower, and more transparent, which keeps the overall fees you pay down - more on that, later.
Who is the Sainsbury's travel card for?
The Sainsbury's travel card supports up to 15 different currencies: euro (EUR), pound sterling (GBP), US dollars (USD), Australian dollars (AUD), New Zealand dollars (NZD), Canadian dollars (CAD), South African rand (ZAR), Turkish lira (TRY), Swiss franc (CHF), UAE dirham (AED), Mexican peso (MXN), Polish zloty (PLN), Czech koruna (CZK), Swedish krona (SEK) and Japanese yen (JPY).
If you’re planning a holiday to any of these countries or regions, the Sainsbury's travel card may be the one for you. But don’t forget, fees and limits do apply, so comparing a few options is the best way to get the perfect travel money card for your needs.
What is the Sainsbury's travel card?
The Sainsbury's travel money card is a prepaid travel money card on the Mastercard network, which supports holding in 15 popular currencies. You can get your card in the UK before you travel, and switch to the currency you need for your trip. Currency exchange margins apply when you switch currencies, and there’s a fairly high 5.75% fee when you spend a currency you don’t hold in your account - so do make sure the currency or currencies you need are supported before you get started.
Is the Sainsbury's travel card a multi-currency card?
Yes. The Sainsbury's travel money card is a multi-currency card which lets you hold 15 popular foreign currencies.
If you need something different, keep reading for a quick comparison with the Wise card and the Revolut card, which both support a broader selection of currencies, with relatively low overall fees and a fair exchange rate.
Alternatives to Sainsbury's travel card
The Sainsbury's travel card supports a good range of popular currencies, but it’s also got quite a few fees to consider before you pick one up.
To help you decide if the Sainsbury's travel card is right for you, let’s look at it alongside a couple of other popular alternatives:
|Sainsbury's travel card||Wise debit card||Revolut debit card|
|Availability||Pick up in a Sainsbury's store or order online||Order online or in-app||Order online or in-app|
|Card order fee||No fee||7 GBP||No fee|
|Monthly fees||No fee||No fee||0 GBP - 12.99 GBP|
|Top up fees|
2% to add GBP
No fee to add foreign currencies (exchange rate margins apply)
|Free ways to add funds are available||Free ways to add funds are available|
|International Money Transfers||Not available||Fees from 0.41%, 70 + countries covered||Fees from 0.3% to 2%, 40+ countries covered|
|International ATM withdrawals||No Sainsbury’s fee to withdraw a currency 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||Mastercard rate; exchange rate margins apply when converting within your account||Mid-market rate||Mid-market rate to plan limit|
|Fee to spend a currency you don’t hold in your account||5.75%||From 0.41%||Free to plan limit, then 0.5% fair usage fee applies|
|Supported Currencies for holding and exchange||15 currencies supported||50+ currencies supported||25+ currencies supported|
|Inactivity fee||2 GBP/month||No fee||No fee|
|Closure fee||6 GBP if you cash out through Card Services - free to close in a Sainsbury’s travel bureau||No fee||No fee|
|Business Accounts||Not available||Available||Available|
The Sainsbury's travel card is convenient as you can collect one in store just a day after ordering it. It also supports 15 popular currencies, covering a good selection of the destinations Brits like to go on holiday. However, bear in mind that it may not be the absolute best value out there, thanks to foreign exchange markups and foreign transaction fees if you don’t have the currency you need already loaded. There are lots of travel money cards on the UK market, so comparing a few is the smart way to make sure you get a good deal.
Sign up for a Wise account online or via the Wise app to enjoy convenient and flexible travel features, including the ability to securely hold and exchange more than 50 currencies. Use your Wise card in over 170 countries, with currency exchange that uses the mid-market exchange rate and low fees from just 0.41%, plus extras like ways to receive payments like a local from 30+ countries, and fast international transfers to 70+ countries.
Revolut provides various account options with distinct features and pricing. You can select a no-monthly-fee basic account or higher-tier plans that have monthly charges but offer extra benefits and free transactions. All accounts have a linked card and can hold over 25 currencies.
Revolut applies the mid-market exchange rate within the limits specified in your account plan whenever you switch currencies in your account or when spending. Fair usage charges of 0.5% apply after you’ve used the plan allowance.
Sainsbury's travel card fees & spending limits
First, the limits associated with using your Sainsbury's travel card:
|Spending & topping up limits||Sainsbury's travel card|
|Minimum load||50 GBP|
|Maximum load||5,000 GBP|
|Maximum balance at any one time||5,000 GBP|
|Maximum annual balance||30,000 GBP|
|Maximum cash withdrawals||500 GBP in 24 hours|
|Maximum daily transactions||3,000 GBP in 24 hours|
Next, let’s look at the costs of using the Sainsbury's card when you’re travelling:
|Fees & charges||Sainsbury's travel card|
|Charge for GBP top ups||2%|
|Cash withdrawals||No fee|
|Foreign transaction fee||5.75% to spend a currency you don’t hold|
|Closure fee||6 GBP cash out fee via Card Services, close your account for free in an eligible Sainsburys store|
|Maintenance fee||No maintenance fee, but a 2 GBP/month inactivity fee applies after 18 months of inactivity|
Information correct at time of writing - 17th May 2023
If you top up a Sainsbury's travel card in pounds, there’s a 2% fee. Alternatively you can add funds in any of the other supported foreign currencies, but then you’ll find a margin is added to the exchange rate used to switch your pounds to the required currency. That’s also a fee, but it’s a bit trickier to spot. The easiest way to see this charge is by comparing the rate offered by Sainsbury's against the mid-market rate you can get from Google.
Once you have a balance in a foreign currency it’s free to spend it. However, if you’re spending in an unsupported currency, or if you don’t have enough balance in the currency required to cover the costs of your purchase, you’ll pay a 5.75% foreign transaction fee.
How to get a Sainsbury's travel card
You can get a Sainsbury's travel card by ordering online to collect the next day from a participating Sainsbury’s store, or for home delivery which can take 5 to 8 days.
To apply for your card you’ll need to be over 18 and a UK resident.
What documents and information you’ll need
When you apply for a Sainsbury's travel card you may be asked to show some proof of identity and address. This is part of the verification process used to keep customers and their accounts safe.
What happens when the card expires?
Your Sainsbury’s travel card has an expiry date. Once the card expires, you’ll need to apply to get any outstanding balance back - it won’t be sent back to you automatically.
You can get any outstanding balance back by calling Sainsbury’s bank, or in certain stores. The cash out option isn’t available in every Sainsbury’s branch, though, so do check before you head out.
How to use a Sainsbury's travel card?
The Sainsbury’s travel money card can be topped up in pounds or the currency you need, and then you can spend anywhere you see the Mastercard symbol - including contactless payments where supported.
How to withdraw cash with a Sainsbury's travel card?
Withdraw cash with your Sainsbury's travel card as you would with any other debit or credit card. There’s no Sainsbury’s fee to make a withdrawal, but the ATM operator might have their own fees - keep an eye on the ATM screen for details of this.
Is the card safe?
Yes. Sainsbury's travel money cards are issued via PrePay Technologies Limited, which is overseen by the FCA in the UK. That means you can trust it’s safe to use.
How to use the Sainsbury's travel card overseas?
Use your Sainsbury's card to spend any currency you hold for free - however, there’s a 5.75% fee if you don’t have enough of the currency you need in your balance, so make sure you’ve topped up your account enough before you start spending.
You can use your Sainsbury's travel card internationally for in person, online and contactless payments, anywhere you see the Mastercard symbol.
Conclusion: is the Sainsbury's travel card worth it?
The Sainsbury's travel card has some convenient features. It’s readily available only a day after you order it, from your local Sainsbury’s store, and it can hold 15 popular currencies. However, it’s not perfect. There are exchange rate margins applied when you convert to any of the foreign currencies supported by the card; and a 5.75% foreign transaction fee if you spend in a currency you don’t have in your account.
Before you sign up with Sainsbury’s, compare the travel money card against the flexible multi-currency accounts available from alternatives like Wise and Revolut. Currency conversion uses the mid-market rate with no margin added - and overall the fees are pretty low. For example, with Wise if you don’t have the currency you need in your account your card will just autoconvert with the lowest available fee, from 0.41%, while Revolut offers some fee free conversion, with 0.5% fair usage fees once you hit your plan limits.
Sainsbury's travel card review FAQ
The Sainsbury's travel card can hold and exchange 15 currencies, to spend globally anywhere Mastercard is accepted. If you don’t have the currency you need in your balance, there’s a 5.75% foreign transaction fee. If you want to compare your options to look for lower fees, check out alternatives from providers like Wise and Revolut.
The Sainsbury's travel card is intended for international use. You can hold and spend 15 currencies, with no fee to spend a currency you hold in your account. To compare the Sainsbury’s card against providers which cover more currencies, check out the multi-currency accounts from a service like Wise or Revolut.
If the Sainsbury's travel card isn’t right for you, there’s lots of choice out there. Have a look at travel debit cards from a provider like Wise or Revolut as a different option that can come with a broader selection of supported currencies - and, often, lower overall fees.