Simply using your bank issued card for international purchases is easy.
The problem is it is expensive – often extremely expensive with hidden fees that can go unnoticed.
Fortunately, now days there are a handful of international prepaid debit cards designed to help significantly reduce costs.
Like: The Wise debit Mastercard (formerly TransferWise).
The Wise card can be used throughout the MasterCard network and enables multiple currency access either online or while travelling.
And it gets better:
Apart from paying for things in any currency at low cost, you can hold many currencies and convert them at will.
It’s basically like having several bank accounts in different currencies converted at the best rates with a card that can access them all seamlessly.
But it is not for everyone.
Some people can’t get it, while for others you may not need it. We will reveal all.
Let’s get stuck into it!
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Low conversion fees and no transaction fees for multiple currencies
Free ATM withdrawals up to $250 per 30 days (most countries)
Automatically converts your currencies
Accepted anywhere MasterCard is accepted + Apple and Google Pay
Available in the UK, Europe, USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand (and many others).
1. What is a Wise Card (Really)?
The Wise Card is linked to your Wise multi currency account (review) which functions much like a bank account — minus the high fees (see below).
Before you get too excited – check you can get one and what it can do (each is slightly different)
With the multi-currency account you can:
- Receive your salary, pension, tax benefits, etc.
- Hold up to 55 currencies and spend like a local when relocating or traveling abroad
- Pay your utility bills or mortgage without the currency conversion fee
- Get paid like a local with international bank details in 10 currencies (USD, CAD, GBP, EUR, AUD, NZD, SGD (Singapore dollars), TRY (Turkish lira), RON (Romanian lei), and HUF (Hungarian Forint)
- Spend online without foreign exchange fees
The Wise Debit card is available for users in the UK, Europe (EEA), USA, Canadian, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, and Japan.
First things first – check you can get a Wise Multi-currency Account (opens a new tab) for personal or business use before you can get the card.
With the card you can enjoy benefits like:
- Low conversion fees and no transaction fees for multiple currencies
- Issue up to 3 virtual cards for temporary usage
- Free ATM withdrawals with limits
- Automatically convert your currencies at the mid-market rate
- Use anywhere MasterCard (or Visa) is accepted
- In-store contactless payments
- Businesses can issue employee debit cards with custom limits
It’s great for expats, frequent travelers, and growing businesses.
However, here are a few key things you can’t do with a Wise Card:
- Depositing cash at an ATM
- Spend on credit
The Wise card gives you access to a potentially much better way to manage your money if you work, travel, or do business overseas.
2. Is the Wise Card Right for You? (And When It’s Not)
Right For You
- You want a debit card that lets you spend different currencies (up to 55+) you already have in your Wise multi-currency account.
- You’d like to get better currency conversion rates and avoid hidden fees changed by regular bank debit cards (which use dynamic currency conversion).
- You’d like complete control over your money and card on the Wise app, which lets you track your spending, transfer money, and pay bills And, if your card is ever lost or stolen, you can block it from the app to keep your money safe.
- You’d like to be able to make ATM withdrawals (Wise card offers 2 free withdrawals a month, but the amount you can withdraw depends on where your card was issued).
- Examples of who it’s great for: Frequent traveler, digital nomad, expats living in foreign countries that often spend in multiple currencies.
Not Right For You
- The Wise card is not for you if you’re looking for an international credit card. You must have money in your Wise multi-currency account (either the currency you want to spend or another currency) to pay for goods and services online or in-store.
- Because Wise is not a bank, you don’t earn interest on the money you hold in your card or multi-currency account.
- Because Wise is not a bank, you are not protected by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FDIC in the US, FSCS in the UK, FCS in Australia) or similar in your country which acts like a kind of insurance for amounts you hold
- See how the Wise debit card compares with their competitors and banks below
The Wise debit card can be very helpful addition. However you do need to have a positive balance in your multi currency account (in any currency) to use the card and you won’t earn any interest on your balances held.
3. How to Get One
The Wise Debit card is available in the UK, Europe (EEA), USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, and Japan — which covers about 70% of the areas they service.
Click here to see if the card is available in your country.
- Sign up for your Wise multi-currency account and verify it with the relevant documents.
- Apply for the card once signed-up. You’ll be asked to fund your multi-currency account with a small fee ($20 USD/£20 GBP) to apply as well as pay the card-issuing fees (see below for more details about fees – below).
- Once you receive your card (takes 2-3 weeks, depending on your location), activate it and set your PIN. (When you’re traveling, enter your 4-digit PIN even if the ATM asks for a 6-digit PIN)
- The card is accepted anywhere MasterCard (or Visa if your card is powered by Visa) is accepted.
The card works like a regular debit card and can be used for contactless payments in stores, online payments, and ATM withdrawals worldwide (fees applicable).
4. Is the Wise Card Really Safe?
Wise is a big, trusted company with millions of users and is highly regulated in many different countries.
While all this regulation appears boring (safety is best when it’s boring), it helps because each country has its own rules and needs.
Wise is registered with many financial institutions where they operate like the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (USA), the UK Financial Conduct Authority (UK) amongst many others including Europe, Hong Kong, Singapore, Canada, Australia, India, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand, Singapore and the UAE.
Beyond extreme regulation, the company itself seems very serious about its safety and security.
However it must be said:
The Wise debit card is used with the Multi-Currency Account that holds different currencies.
But these funds are not insured like the funds held in your bank.
They do say, “We keep your money in low-risk financial institutions like JP Morgan Chase, Deutsche Bank, and Barclays.”
So we’d say the Wise card and associated multi currency account is safe.
You can also freeze and unfreeze your card whenever you like. PIN reminders and instant transaction notifications, also help to ensure you know what is going on.
5. How Much Does the Wise Card Cost? (Fees and Limits)
Here’s a quick look at how much a Wise card costs along with associated fees and limits:
|Card issuing fee||$7 USD / £5 GBP/ €6 EUR/ $10 SGD/ $10 NZD and free in AUD (the first time)|
|Currency conversion fees||Approx. 0.35–2.22%|
|Fees for spending currencies you hold||No fees|
|ATM withdrawal fees||Varies by country|
For UK/Europe: 200GBP/EUR per month for free (with 2 free withdrawals, 1.75% fee thereafter)
For Australia, New Zealand, or Singapore: 350 AUD/NZD/SGD per month for free (with 2 free withdrawals, 1.75% fee thereafter)
For US: $100 USD per month for free (with 2 free withdrawals, 2% fee thereafter)
For Japan: 30,000 JPY per month for free (with 2 free withdrawals, 1.75% fee thereafter)
The card also has daily, weekly, and monthly spending limits that vary by country – check them out here.
Currency conversion fees:
While it is hard to say up front exactly how much you will have to pay in conversion fees, you can use the convenient Fee Checker to check out all fees before spending or withdrawing.
6. Wise Card vs. Competitors: Main Differences
The Wise debit card is one of the most popular cards for travelers, expats, and growing businesses. But it’s by no means the only multi-currency/travel money card out there.
Let’s see how the Wise debit compares with major competitors:
|Availability||the UK, Europe (EEA), USA, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, and Japan||Country specific (unless they have branches abroad)||The UK, EEA, Australia, and Singapore||EEA and the US|
|Hold multiple currencies||Yes (40+ currencies)||No (multi-currency cards and accounts are not provided by high street banks)||Yes (30 currencies)||No (account is in the currency of the country of registration)|
|Fees||Fees include card issue fee, ATM withdrawal fee (over the country-specific limit), card replacement fee, and currency conversion fee||2-3% currency conversion fees + 1.5-2% convenience fees while traveling abroad | Free withdrawals at in-network ATMs | charges for out-of-network withdrawals between 2-3% in the US.||Fees include tiered membership plan charges, ATM withdrawal fees (over the rolling monthly limit), card delivery, and currency conversion fee||Fees include tiered membership plan charges, ATM withdrawal fees for both domestic and international withdrawals (8 free withdrawals with the highest plan), currency conversion charges.|
|Bank license||Not a bank | But regulated in their major countries of operation.||Country specific||Banking license in 10 European countries (Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Estonia, Greece, Latvia, Malta, Romania, Slovakia, and Slovenia)||N26 is licensed as a bank in Europe and partners with Axos bank in the US to provide FDIC-insured accounts|
|Perks||Hold and manage 40+ currencies, bank details in major international currencies, get paid, and spend like a local in the currencies in the multi-currency wallet||Limited | Varies from bank to bank||Rewards and discounts at partner restaurants and stores. Other perks like travel insurance, saving pots, lounge access, etc. vary by membership tier||Rewards and discounts at partner restaurants, physical stores, and apps. Like Revolut, their other perks like travel insurance and lounge access depend on your membership tier.|
In summary, The Wise card with a linked multi-currency account is a simple, convenient and inexpensive option when compared to competitors:
- The Wise multi-currency account is free to open and maintain.
- You don’t have to pay any monthly charges for the Wise card.
- Currency conversion fees on the card don’t go over 3% (compared to 4-5% for banks) when you’re using the card while traveling abroad.
- Spending currencies you already hold is free — much more cost-effective than the dynamic currency conversion that banks use.
- Although there are some charges like currency conversion (for currencies you do not currently hold) and country-specific ATM withdrawal fees, it’s more affordable than its competitors and high-street banks.
Overall, the availability of the Wise card is also much higher and it supports more currencies than its closest competitor Revolut.
The Wise multi-currency account is likely to be far more attractive to international people, especially when you have the ability to give people bank details in major currencies.
This makes Wise useful for getting paid and spending like a local so much easier.
N26 and Revolut are two of the best alternatives to the Wise Card. As the table shows offer quite different services.
7. Real Reviews (Including Negative Ones)
The online feedback for Wise as a whole service is generally positive. It has a score of 4.5/5 based on over 161,000 reviews on Trustpilot — that’s not an easy score to achieve.
While we didn’t see as many star reviews for the Wise card specifically, the general feedback is positive with a score of 4.6/5 based on 44 reviews from producthunt.com.
It’s especially a big hit with frequent travelers and freelancers who need to accept payments from clients around the world.
Many liked that the card was easy to set up and use, and its low fees. They also appreciated the option of having a virtual card to keep their money safe in case of one-time transactions.
But, no service can be perfect. And we always like having a look at the negative reviews a well so you can find out whether something is really right for you.
Some users were disappointed with:
Card delivery times
Since Wise has a wide coverage for their card, the delivery time can vary quite a bit. For example, if you stay in Singapore, you can get the card within 2-3 days, while EEA residents may get it after 2 weeks.
If your card delivery is delayed, you can get in touch with Wise’s (very responsive) customer service team for an update or apply for a new card on the app.
Costs and fees associated with the card
Some users found the costs associated with the card quite high.
However, if you compare them with currency conversion charges on bank-issued credit and debit cards, ATM fees charged by banks and competitors, and membership charges of competing services like N26 and Revolut, Wise is one of the most affordable multi-currency cards out there.
Problems with contactless payments
Contactless payments are great for small in-store payments. If you’re having trouble making contactless payments with your Wise card, it could be for the following reasons:
- You’ve never used your contactless card (you need to do an ATM transaction with your Wise before contactless payments can be enabled)
- You’ve reached your spending limit (the card has spending limits that vary by country)
- You have an older card (cards issued in the US before December 2019 don’t support contactless payments)
Wise runs rings around banks and has very few negative reviews compared to its competitors.
The Wise card, formerly TransferWise card, comes as an awesome solution for anyone who wants to spend in multiple currencies — like expats, frequent travelers, and businesses.
It’s way cheaper (jump to fees) and more convenient than a traditional bank debit card if you’re making online purchases or need to spend while traveling.
However, it may not be right for you depending on your need (jump to “When it’s right for you or not”). For example, you can’t spend on credit with the Wise card.
But if you’re looking for an easy way to spend in multiple currencies that are already in your multi-currency account (review) and want access to better exchange rates, the Wise card is definitely something to consider.