Heading overseas? The smart way to travel with money | finder.com

Travel Money Comparison

Discover how far your travel money can take you.

Traveling overseas involves a lot of planning — and that includes your money.

Which option is right for your next trip?

Travel money card comparison

Updated August 17th, 2018
Name Product Currency Conversion Fee Annual Fee APR (Annual Percentage Rate) for Purchases
None
$195
16.74% variable
Enjoy unique excursions, privileged access to exclusive events and insider opportunities.
None
$0
14.74%, 18.74% or 24.74% variable
Earn unlimited 1.5% cash rewards on purchases. See Rates and Fees
None
$495
16.74% variable
Mastercard Black Card members receive an annual $100 air travel credit toward flight-related purchases including airline tickets, baggage fees, upgrades and more.
None
$995
16.74% variable
Earn points every time you spend. Luxury Card enhances your purchasing power by providing you with one (1) point for every one dollar ($1) you spend. Every purchase gets you closer to the rewards you want.
None
$0 annual fee for the first year ( thereafter)
16.74%, 22.49% or 25.49% variable
Get 4 points back on dining, 3 on travel, 2 on Uber rides and online shopping and 1 on other purchases, and redeem points for Uber credits, gift cards or cash back.
None
$0
16.74% to 24.74% variable
20,000 online bonus points offer. Ditch the restrictions of typical airline rewards cards. Any airline, any hotel, anytime. No blackout dates.
None
$0 annual fee for the first year ($95 thereafter)
14.74%, 21.24% or 24.74% variable
Earn 50,000 bonus miles after spending $3,000 on purchases within the first 3 months from account opening.
None
$0 annual fee for the first year ($95 thereafter)
17.74% to 24.74% variable
Earn 50,000 points when you spend $4,000 on purchases within the first 3 months of your account opening, and an additional 30,000 points when you spend a total of $30,000 on purchases within the first year of your account opening.
None
$95
17.74% to 24.74% variable
Earn unlimited 2 points for every $1 spent on travel and dining purchases and 1.5 points for every $1 spent on all other purchases.
None
$450
17.74% to 24.74% variable
Earn 50,000 BONUS POINTS after spending $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening* — that's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
None
$550
None (Charge Card)
Get 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel and 5X points on eligible hotels booked on amextravel.com.
None
$450
17.74% to 24.74% variable
Enjoy United Club membership, Premier Access® travel services, free checked bags, plus earn miles on every purchase.
None
$75
16.74% to 24.74% variable
Buy one ticket, get one for just the taxes and fees ($0 fare plus taxes and fees from just $22) after you make $1,000 or more in purchases within the first 90 days of your account opening. There are no blackout dates.
None
$195
17.49% to 26.49% variable
Earn 70,000 Bonus Miles and 10,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles(MQMs) after spending $3,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months.

Compare up to 4 providers

Promoted
Travelex Money Card

Why we like: Travelex Money Card

Load GBP, EUR, CAD, AUD, JPY or MXN onto this prepaid travel money card and use it at millions of locations worldwide.

  • Not linked to your bank account for safety.
  • Convert currency with a 5.50% Foreign Exchange Fee
  • Contactless payments
  • Reload, withdraw, or replace your card for free.

    What is travel money?

    Travel money, for lack of a better term, essentially means the options of credit cards, debit cards, prepaid cards and foreign currency — all designed for travel and foreign transactions. Each form of travel money has different benefits and depending on the destination, one may be suited as better than another.

    When considering travel money, be sure to do your research. It’s wise to always take a combination of products to ensure that you’ll have an acceptable option of payment no matter where you are.

    A quick comparison of travel money cards

    Travel money feature

    Prepaid travel card

    View cards

    Credit card

    View cards

    Debit card

    View cards

    Fees
    No currency conversion feesYesYesNo
    No ATM withdrawal feesYesYesYes
    No initial currency load feeNo
    Currency
    Pre-load currenciesYesNoNo
    Instant reload (no delay)Yes
    Convenience
    Worldwide acceptanceYesYesYes
    Emergency cash facilityNoYesNo
    Purchase over the counterYesYesYes
    Security
    Chip & Pin protectionYesYesYes
    Emergency card replacementYesYesNo
    Backup cardsYesNoNo
    Account management
    Mobile applicationYesYesYes
    Online account loginYesYesYes
    Rewards
    Reward points for spendingYesYesYes
    Frequent flyer benefitsNoYesNo
    Promotional interest rates
    (0% purchases, 0% balance transfers)
    NoYesNo

    This table is a general summary of the travel money products in the market. Features and benefits can vary between cards.

    How to decide which type of travel money is best for you?

    The best travel money option for you will depend on your destination, how you plan to spend and what you can afford. Prepaid travel cards, credit cards and debit cards all have their uses, but the differences lie in their features and fees. To be safe, many travelers bring more than one type for convenience and security.

    Here you can compare the different travel money options available to discover which one offers you the best value for your next trip.

    Prepaid travel money cards

    To determine whether a travel card is the right choice for you, weigh up some of the pros and cons below.

    Benefits of using a prepaid travel card

    • Multiple currencies. When you load dollars onto a prepaid travel card, you can transfer them into a supported foreign currency so that you can spend or withdraw your own funds without the cost of currency conversion fees.
    • Locked-in exchange rates. When you convert your dollars into a supported foreign currency, the funds will be locked in at the current exchange rate. Depending on which way the currency goes, this can be a good way to avoid negative exchange rate fluctuations while traveling.

    Things to consider using prepaid travel cards

    • Availability. Most prepaid travel cards are either Visa or Mastercard, meaning you can use them worldwide.
    • Fees. The fees you’ll have to pay will depend on the card, but some include a purchase fee, loading or reloading fee, currency conversion fee, inactivity fee and account inactivity fee.
    • ATM withdrawal limits. If your prepaid travel card charges a fee per transaction and you need a large amount of money, it could get expensive quickly if the ATMs you withdraw from only allow a small amount per transaction .
    • Currencies. Your prepaid travel card will support a number of foreign currencies, though the exact ones will depend on the individual card.

    Compare prepaid travel money cards

    Promoted
    Travelex Money Card

    Why we like: Travelex Money Card

    Load GBP, EUR, CAD, AUD, JPY or MXN onto this prepaid travel money card and use it at millions of locations worldwide.

    • Not linked to your bank account for safety.
    • Convert currency with a 5.50% Foreign Exchange Fee
    • Contactless payments
    • Reload, withdraw, or replace your card for free.
      Back to top

      Travel credit cards

      Enjoy financial security, flexibility and extra features with a credit card. Look for a credit card that is designed for overseas use, preferably one that doesn’t charge currency conversion fees, foreign transaction fees or overseas ATM withdrawal fees.

      Plus, credit cards come with features like travel insurance, a concierge service and rewards programs.

      Benefits of using a credit card overseas

      • Access to credit. A line of credit is often larger than your savings, which can come in handy for large or emergency purchases. Remember that you have to repay everything (plus interest) to the card.
      • Rewards. These cards are typically more expensive, so make sure that the value of the rewards you redeem will outweigh the costs.
      • Extras. Complimentary travel insurance, purchase protection and concierge services will surely benefit any traveler.

      Considerations when using credit cards for travel

      • Availability. Visa, Mastercard and American Express should be accepted widely around the world. Some cards can’t be used in some locations (such as Cuba, Iran, Myanmar, North Korea, Sudan and Syria) due to economic sanctions. Check with the provider to confirm whether your card can be used in your destination before you leave.
      • Fees. If you use your regular credit card overseas, it’s likely you’ll be charged currency conversion or foreign transaction fees. You’ll also be charged cash advance fees — which tend to be pricey — if you use your card for ATM withdrawals
      • Currencies. Look for a card that will waive currency conversion or foreign transaction fees, otherwise you’ll rack up fees every time you use your card for purchases in the local currency.

      Compare the full range of travel credit cards with our complete guide

      Back to top

      Travel debit cards

      The advantages of using a debit card can include international ATM alliances , no withdrawal fees, no currency conversion fees, no foreign transaction fee and access to your personal money. And since it is your personal money, it allows you to budget effectively.

      How debit cards can benefit you overseas

      • Access and manage your own cash. Unlike a credit card with a line of credit or a prepaid card with a loaded amount of funds, a debit card gives you direct access to your savings. This saves you the inconvenience of loading a prepaid card, but might deter the overspending that comes with credit.
      • Fewer fees than credit cards and prepaid travel cards. If you get a debit card designed for overseas use, you might not have to pay ATM withdrawal, currency conversion or foreign transaction fees.
      • ATM availability worldwide. If your debit card is a Visa or Mastercard, you should be able to withdraw from ATMs around the world. To avoid ATM withdrawal fees, look for a card that belongs to the Global ATM Alliance like a Barclaycard or Bank of America card.
      • Fraud protection. Your provider is likely to offer protection against fraudulent transactions made on your account so long as you follow the necessary steps to report unusual activity.

      Considerations to keep in mind

      • No backup or additional card. Debit card accounts don’t provide a backup. This means that you may have to wait up to two weeks for a replacement to arrive to your overseas destination.
      • Daily currency exchange rate. You’ll receive the daily exchange rate for your withdrawal from Mastercard or Visa. Due to the uncertainty of exchange rates, it is wise to do market research to find which option may be better for you.

      Comprehensive guide to using debit cards overseas

      Foreign cash

      Holding a certain amount of foreign cash provides you with convenience and payment flexibility. Some stops on your destination may be cash-only and having extra on you can provide a smooth transition to wherever your destination may be.

      Exchanging money is as easy as ordering online and picking up in store.

      Knowing how the dollar has performed against foreign currency in the past few years and months will enable you to get the best exchange rate for your foreign exchange transaction. Our travel money guides will inform you on some of the ways to access cash and ATMs worldwide.

      Traveler’s checks

      Traveler’s checks were once a widely used form of travel money, but they’re going the way of the dinosaur. You can weigh up whether they’re worth your time below — but we’d advise looking elsewhere.

      How a traveler’s checks could still work for you

      • Secure. Traveler’s checks are an extremely secure method to spend money overseas.
      • Safe. They can be easily replaced if lost or stolen.

      Considerations to keep in mind

      • Cost. You might be charged a purchase fee when you first pick up your traveler’s check.
      • Acceptance. Traveler’s checks are generally accepted less than Visa or Mastercards.
      • Difficult to use. Can be bulky and awkward to carry. Plus, you’ll have to go to the effort of getting them cashed rather than having immediate access to your cash like you would with a card.

      Destination money guides

      For your next international trip, plan ahead by knowing how much to bring, and which travel money option is best for you. Choose your destination to get the full guide:

      The most commonly asked travel money questions on the internet

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      2 Responses

      1. Default Gravatar
        VinitaDecember 19, 2017

        Can I get dirhams–Moroccan currency–from any Chase branches?

        • finder Customer Care
          RenchDecember 20, 2017Staff

          Hi Vinita,

          Thanks for your inquiry. Please note that we are not affiliated with Chase or any company we feature on our site and so we can only offer you general advice.

          Yes, Chase offers international money transfers including dirhams. You can also get helpful tips on this page on comparing currency exchange companies.

          Best regards,
          Rench

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