Wise Travel Debit Card Review: Fees, Exchange Rates, Limits and How to Use It

There are many things you need to keep track of as a digital nomad, such as visas, travel documents, and accommodation, to name a few.

But one of the most important things to work out is your finances. As a digital nomad, you are likely constantly moving between countries and switching currencies, so having a travel debit card is imperative.

The Wise debit card is an easy financial solution for frequent travelers, digital nomads, and expats. So, what is the fuss about this Wise travel card? How does it work? And most importantly, should you hop on the bandwagon and sign up for it?

I have been using the Wise Travel Card for quite some time now and, in this article, I will give you my honest opinion about it.

What is a Wise Travel Debit Card?

Wise travel debit card with Bangkok in the background

If you travel often, you have probably used or at least heard of Wise (formerly Transfer Wise).

This UK-based tech company was founded in 2011 by Estonian businessmen Kristo Käärmann and Taavet Hinrikus on the principle of providing fast and fair exchange rates for international transfers without any sneaky fees or below-par exchange rates.

I have been personally using their Wise multi-currency account for years now, and it is still the primary way I transfer money abroad. But, I recently started using the Wise travel card, which added an entirely new dimension to my travels.

Can I Use The Wise Card For Traveling Abroad?

The Wise travel card it's not a credit card and functions pretty much like a regular debit card. You simply add funds to the account and insert, swipe, or tap to pay for items.

The main difference? With Wise, you can hold money in more than 40 different currencies and pay like a local for items in more than 160 countries worldwide without having to worry about hefty fees or markups on conversion rates.

Your Wise Travel Card is connected directly to your Wise account, so you can spend funds from your balances.

Who is the Wise Travel Card for?

Wise travel debit card with digital nomads in the background

Obviously, this is a “travel” card, so its primary purpose is for spending abroad while traveling. That said, you could totally use this for your day-to-day expenses. Traditional banks aren’t really designed to cater to frequent travelers or digital nomads, and the Wise Travel Card fills this gap.

For example, my wages are paid from the US, but I live abroad permanently, so I can easily transfer from my US-based bank to Wise and then simply use my Wise card for most of my daily expenses.

You should consider using the Wise Travel Card if one or more of the following applies to you:

  • You frequently transfer funds from another country that uses a different currency.
  • You travel internationally often and need a card with low currency conversion fees.
  • You often shop online with international retailers that sell their products in a foreign currency.
  • You own a business and need a card for international expenses.
  • Your current bank card has high currency conversion fees and you want to get away from a traditional bank account
  • Your current bank card has high fees for using international ATMs.

Wise Card Features for Traveling Abroad

Wise travel debit card and app with New York in the background

If you have used a travel prepaid card like Revolut, Chime, or Monzo in the past, you can expect similar features from the Wise Travel Card. Let's see which ones are those:

  • Low fees on conversions with the mid-market exchange rate
  • Hold, spend, and exchange more than 40 different currencies in your Wise account
  • Available to citizens and residents of more than 30 countries, including the UK, Canada, EU, USA, and Australia
  • Manage, top up, freeze, and view your card balance in the Wise App
  • Use at over 2 million ATMs with free monthly withdrawals up to certain limits.
  • Create up to 3 digital virtual cards for free
  • Auto currency convert feature to automatically convert your funds at your set rate
  • Ability to make Contactless payments
  • Connect to most popular eWallets like Google Pay, Apple Pay, and more
  • Free spending of any currency you hold in your Wise account
  • Biodegradable and eco-friendly card design

Pros and Cons of the Wise Debit Card for Travel

Wise travel debit card with Lisbon in the background

When I first started my digital nomad journey, I quickly came to a rude awakening when I found that my bank was charging exorbitant markups on foreign exchange and fees for ATM withdrawals.

If the same is happening to you, you’ll want to get your hands on this gem of a travel card. But before you sign up, let’s go over some of the upsides and downsides of the Wise Travel Card.

Pros and cons:

  • Low markup (.5%) for currency conversion
  • No annual subscription fees after the initial card fee
  • 2 free ATM withdrawals (up to 200 GBP in total)
  • Access to bank account details in 10 different currencies (This is huge for making bank transfers)
  • Can hold more than 40 different currencies in your Wise Multi-Currency account
  • Must pay a fee to initially order the card (around 10 USD or 7 GBP)
  • After withdrawing 200 GBP (varies depending on your location), you'll pay .5 GBP + 1.75% on ATM withdrawals
  • No option to top up the account with cash
  • Only available as a prepaid card, with no credit card option
  • Shipping can take more than two weeks to arrive (even longer for US customers)

What To Love About the Wise Debit Card?

For me, the Wise card's standout features are the app's user-friendliness, the multi-currency account, and the low markup on exchange rates.

Being able to hold more than 40 currencies is a game changer. Transferring funds to different currencies in their app when I travel abroad is super easy. To give you an example, I spend quite a bit of time in Europe, the USA, and New Zealand. And with Wise, I can have separate accounts for USD, EUR, and NZD, which makes my life SO much more manageable when traveling to these countries!

On top of that, while there is a small markup fee on currency exchange, it is extremely minimal compared to other banks I have used.

What Could Be Improved About the Wise Debit Card?

The obvious downsides of the Wise Travel Card lie with ATM withdrawal limits, longer card delivery timeframes, and the lack of a premium option.

I am based in the USA, and my card took more than 2 weeks to arrive. Most digital nomads don’t spend too much time in each place, so this can make it difficult to receive your card initially if you are a frequent traveler.

Also, while card transactions are becoming the norm in many countries, cash is still king in several countries I have traveled to in the past few years. The Wise card is NOT exactly the ideal card for withdrawing cash. You’ll only get two transactions for free, and then you’ll be paying a usage fee as well as a 1.75% to 2% markup. This definitely isn’t a dealbreaker, but I hope Wise will improve this in the future.

What Currencies Can You Use With the Wise Travel Card?

Wise travel debit card with Bali villa in the background

One of the main reasons Wise has kept me on board as a customer all these years is their multi-currency account. This is truly the crown jewel of all of Wise’s features.

You can store 40+ currencies in various wallets in your Wise account, but this doesn’t mean you are limited to spending in those currencies. In fact, you can use the Wise debit card in more than 160+ countries! If the currency you are spending in doesn’t have a wallet option, the Wise card will simply exchange the money into the payment currency at the time of your purchase.

For example, I was recently in Guatemala, and, unfortunately, I was not able to store Quetzal (the local currency) in my multi-currency account. But when I bought something, my funds were automatically converted from USD to Quetzal at the mid-market rate (plus 0.5%).

There are also 11 currencies for which you get account details to make bank transfers. This means you can transfer funds in the following currency balances directly from your Wise account to another bank account.

  • USD
  • GBP
  • EUR
  • AUD
  • MYR
  • NZD
  • CAD
  • HUF
  • SGD
  • TRY
  • RON

This is a feature of Wise that I use often. If I need to transfer funds from my US bank account to one in another country, I almost always use Wise as a “middleman” in order to avoid unexpected transfer fees.

While you won’t be able to make bank transfers in other currencies, you can hold them in your Wise account and spend with your travel card.

How Does the Wise Card Exactly Work?

As you can see, the Wise Travel Card is a wise decision for any traveler (see what I did there?), but how does it exactly work?

As with any new bank account or credit card, there is a bit of a learning curve when first using your Wise travel card. That said, using this card isn’t rocket science, so you’ll be saving money on exchange fees in no time!

How to Use the Wise Travel Card Abroad

Wise travel debit card, app and receipt with London in the background

The Wise travel card is specifically designed for spending money outside of your home country, so as you would expect, it is pretty easy to use abroad.

All you need to do is order your card, activate it, create a PIN, add money to your account, and you will be all set to use the card in a different country!

Important note: If you are a US or Japanese customer, you must activate your card in the US or Japan before traveling. This was another major downside for me. As an American digital nomad, I had to wait to activate my Wise card until I was back in the USA. All other nationalities can use their card immediately and won’t have to be physically present in their home country.

The Wise App

Wise mobile app

There is nothing more annoying than an app that is built for developers and not for the general public. Your banking and financial app should be easy to navigate and access.

I personally find the Wise app to be extremely user-friendly and intuitive. All features are easy to find, and when navigating through the app, I rarely got stuck or failed to find a setting.

I was easily able to change personal settings, connect bank accounts, exchange money, and send transfers from the app.

How to Order Your Wise Travel Card

How to order a Wise Travel Debit Card

Ordering your Wise Travel Card can take some time (mine took more than 2 weeks to arrive), so I recommend getting on this as soon as possible to ensure you have the card for your next trip!

These are the 3 simple steps you will need to go through:

Step 1: Create a Multi-Currency Account

If you don’t have one already, your first step will be to sign up for a Multi-Currency Account with Wise

Step 2: Start Using Your Virtual Card Immediately

After making an account and verifying your details, you will then be directed to choose a digital/virtual card or a physical card. Digital cards are free and can be added to Google/Apple Pay or used for online payments immediately!

If you want instead a physical card, you can do so by clicking on the “Card” tab on the main page and then click on “Order a Debit Card”. Physical cards cost a one-off fee of 7 GBP/7 EUR/10 USD, and it will take 7 to 21 business days for the card to arrive, based on your location.

If you'd like to visualise the entire process, watch the instructional video below:

How to Activate Your Wise Card

Once your Wise travel card arrives, it is time to activate it and start spending! Luckily, for most Wise account holders, you won’t need to take any steps to activate the card, simply make a chip and PIN payment, and the card is ready to go!

Activate Your Wise Card (for US and Japan Customers Only)

As I mentioned above, Wise customers in the USA or Japan must activate the card separately. This isn’t too much of a headache, just don’t forget you need to be in your home country.

Here is a step-by-step breakdown of activating your card if you are a US and Japan customer.

  1. Log into the Wise app and tap on “Card”.
  2. Then tap on “Activate Card”.
  3. You’ll then be prompted to enter a 6-digit code that you’ll find on your card.
  4. After entering the code, you’ll create your PIN.

If you'd like to visualise the steps to activate your Wise card for your region, watch the instructional video below:

How to Change the PIN for Your Wise Card

Did you forget your PIN? Don’t worry, it happens to the best of us!

Luckily, if you are a US card holder, you can easily change your PIN in the Wise app:

  1. Tap on “Card” in the Wise app
  2. Select “Change PIN
  3. Enter your new PIN 2 times, and you are all set!
Keep in mind that you must be in the US to do this.

If you are a non-US Wise card holder, you cannot change your PIN in the app, unfortunately. Instead, you’ll need to change it using an ATM that supports PIN changes.

My best advice? Choose a PIN you’ll never forget, or keep it written down somewhere secure.

How to Add Money to Your Wise Travel Card

How to Add Money to Your Wise Travel Card

Your Wise travel card is linked to your Wise Multi-Currency account, so you’ll need to top up your Wise account with funds before using the card.

This is a pretty straightforward process:

  1. Logging into your account
  2. Choose which currency balance you want to add money to.
  3. Click “Add”.
  4. Choose which currency you want to use to top up the account.
  5. Type in the amount of money you want to add.
  6. Choose your payment method (bank transfer, debit card)
  7. Confirm the top-up and verify the money arrives in your balance.

Watch the instructional video below to visualise how to top up your Wise balance:

How to Freeze/Unfreeze Your Wise Card

One of the downsides of constant travel is that you put yourself at risk of fraud or losing your card. If you notice potential fraudulent transactions from your Wise card, or you believe your card is lost/stolen, you should freeze your card immediately. This way, you’ll avoid more fraud on your account.

Here are the steps to take to freeze your Wise Travel Card.

  • After logging in to your Wise account, tap on “Card.”
  • Then simply click “Freeze Card”, or if you want to unfreeze, “Unfreeze Card.”
  • Fill out this transaction dispute form and contact customer support right away. They will be able to help you determine what to do next.

How to Replace a Lost or Stolen Wise Card

If you can confirm that your card has been lost or stolen, you’ll want to cancel the card and then order a new one.

  1. Log in to your Wise account and click on “Card.”
  2. Tap “Replace Card.”
  3. You’ll then be prompted to answer why you need a replacement card.
  4. Wait for the new card to arrive.

How to Use an ATM with Your Wise Travel Card

As mentioned above, ATM withdrawal is not the strongest feature with the Wise card, but you can definitely still use the card to take out cash. Spending with your Wise card is simple since the card can make contactless, chip, and swipe payments and is eligible for Google, Apple, Fitbit, and Garmin Pay. But how do you use an ATM with the Wise card?

Using an ATM with the Wise Travel Card is the same as using any other bank card. Simply insert your card into the machine, enter your PIN, determine how much cash you want to withdraw, and take your cash. Don’t forget to take your card back when you are done (I have made this mistake too many times…).

Wise Card ATM Limits

One of the biggest downsides with the Wise card is that you’ll have limited free ATM withdrawals. For all accounts, you’ll have 2 free ATM withdrawals each month, after which you will be charged an ATM usage fee and a percentage markup on the amount of cash you withdraw.

I use the Wise Travel Card for many of my day-to-day travel expenses, but I use my Charles Schwab Investor Checking account for ATMs. This card not only has a 0% ATM markup, but it also refunds any fees the ATM provider charges. This includes international withdrawals!

Country Allowance ATM Usage Fee Variable Rate
USA 100 USD 1.50 USD 2%
UK 200 GBP .50 GBP 1.75%
EEA/EU 200 EUR .50 EUR 1.75%
Australia 350 AUD 1.50 AUD 1.75%
New Zealand 350 NZD 1.50 NZD 1.75%
Canada 350 CAD 1.50 CAD 1.75%
Brazil 1,400 BRL 6.50 BRL 1.75%
Malaysia 1,000 MYR 5 MYR 1.75%
Singapore 350 SGD 1.5 SGD 1.75%
Japan 30,000 JPY 70 JPY 1.75%

Wise Card Delivery Timeframe

Wise travel debit card with London in the background

Once you order your Wise Travel Card, you can expect it to take between 3 and 21 days to arrive, depending on your location. If you live in Singapore, you’ll get your card SUPER fast. Unfortunately for Americans like me, this isn’t the case.

Country Delivery Timeframe
USA 14 to 21 working days
EU Up to 14 working days
UK 2 to 6 working days
Malaysia Up to 5 working days
Singapore Up to 3 working days
Australia 7 to 14 working days
New Zealand 7 to 10 working days
Japan 7 to 10 working days
Brazil 5 to 7 working days
Canada Up to 14 working days

Wise Travel Card Fees and Exchange Rates

One thing I really love is that using Wise itself is free, and you won’t have to pay an ongoing fee to Wise to use the card. In fact, there isn’t even a Premium account feature, so all users get 100% of the features for free. All this said, there are some charges and exchange rates you should know about before you start using the Wise Travel Card.

Type of Fee Wise Fee Amount
Ordering New Wise Card 7 GBP/ 7 EUR / 10 USD
Replace an Expiring Card Free
Currency Conversion 0.42%
First 2 ATM Withdrawals Less than Free Limit Free
ATM Withdrawals After Free Limit 1.75% (2% in USA) + Usage fee (after 2 free withdrawals)

Comparison: How Does the Wise Card Holds Up Against Other Travel Cards?

Travel debit cards compared

Wise is a leader in the travel account realm, but it still has some major competitors. While all of these different companies vary, they all cater to digital nomads and frequent travelers. The table below will compare some key factors with Wise, Revolut, N26, and Chime.

Wise Revolut N26 Chime
Free ATM Limits 100 USD (200 GBP) 400 USD (200 GBP) 3 Free withdrawals per month None
ATM Fees 1.75% (2% USA) + usage fee 2% 1.7% (non EUR ATM) + 2 EUR per Withdrawal 2.50 USD fee for out-of-network ATMS
Card Order Fee 7 GBP (10 USD) Delivery fee only (amount subject to location) 10 EUR delivery fee Free
Exchange Rate Markup +.42% No fee up to 1,000 USD/GBP (.5% after that) No fee No fee
Exchange rate Mid-Market Mid-Market Mastercard Visa
Available Currencies 40+ Currencies 26 Currencies Euro only USD only
Account Fees Free Free (standard), 9.99 USD/7.88 GBP per month (Premium) Free (Standard), 4.90 EUR (Smart), 9.90 EUR (You) Free
Account Eligibility 30+ Nationalities 38 Nationalities (15 more can use Lite Accounts) EEA Only USA Only

You may also be interested in:

5 Best Debit Cards for US Travelers in Europe
Multi-currency cards, zero ATM fees, and more. Find our expert picks for the perfect debit card for US travelers heading to Europe.

So, What Travel Card is the Best?

This is a close call and pretty dependent on where you are located. For example, N26 and Chime are awesome choices if you live in the EU or USA (respectively). But, with these options, you can’t hold different currencies like with Revolut and Wise.

For most digital nomads, Wise or Revolut will be the best option. You can hold a huge number of currencies, and they are available to many different nationalities. I have personally used both Wise and Revolut and can say they are both excellent options.

Spending Limits for the Wise Travel Card

Wise travel debit card in Apple Wallet with Thailand in the background

The Wise Travel Card has set daily and monthly spending limits for all types of transactions. While these limits won’t be a deal breaker for the vast majority of users, they are still worth noting.

Transaction Category Single Transaction Daily Spending Limit Monthly Spending Limit
Chip and Pin Max: $2,000 Default: $1,000 Max: $2,000 Default: $1,000 Max: $15,000 Default: $5,000
Contactless Max: $200 Default: $400 Max: $1,000 Default: $500 Max: $6,000 Default: $1,500
ATM Max: $1,000 Default: $250 Max: $1,000 Default: $250 Max: $4,000 Default: $1,500
Online Transaction Max: $1,500 Default: $1,000 Max: $1,500 Default: $1,000 Max: $6,000 Default: $1,500
Magnetic Stripe Max: $1,500 Default: $1,000 Max: $1,500 Default: $1,000 Max: $6,000 Default: $1,500

Keep in mind the above limits are for US Wise customers. The amounts will differ slightly for customers based in different regions.

Is It Safe to Use the Wise Travel Card?

Wise is a trusted and safe travel card provider, so you can rest assured that your funds will be protected when using the Wise Travel Card. A licensed and regulated financial institution, your funds are safeguarded in Wise. It is, however, worth noting that since Wise is not considered a bank, it is not FDIC insured. FDIC insures up to $250,000 of bank customer's money, but Wise works a bit differently. Wise safeguards users’ money and is required to ensure all customers have access to all of their funds.

So, is Wise safe to use? Yes, absolutely! We don’t recommend keeping all of your money in Wise, but in general, it is a perfectly secure financial institution.

Additionally, the company uses several security features to protect your data, including HTTPS encryption, a two-step login process, and 24/7 fraud prevention.

What to Do If Your Wise Card Is Lost, Stolen, or Compromised

If you lose your Wise card or suspect it to be stolen or compromised, you’ll need to act quickly to prevent any further fraud. Below, we will go over a step-by-step process for what to do if your card is lost, stolen, or compromised.

  1. Freeze your card in the Wise app.
  2. Contact Wise support if you suspect the card to be compromised.
  3. Cancel the card in the app if you confirm the card is lost or stolen or if fraud charges have been made.
  4. Order a new card.
  5. Wait for the new Wise card to arrive.

Bottom Line: Is the Wise Travel Card Worth it?

Wise travel debit card with Tokyo in the background

Time for the 1 million dollar question: Should you get the Wise Travel Card?

If you are a frequent traveler like me and you don’t already have a solid travel card with fair exchange rates, low ATM fees the answer is a resounding yes!

The Wise Travel Card is one of the best cards for digital nomads and expats, as it allows you to seamlessly spend money, withdraw cash, and transfer funds from anywhere around the globe without having to worry about excessive fees. The best part? After paying a one-time card order fee, your Wise account is completely free to use!

Ready To Save Money Abroad with Wise?

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