It’s fairly easy and convenient to get foreign currency, but it leaves you at the mercy of hidden fees and exchange rates. A quick trip to the ATM while abroad, or currency exchange at the airport, can leave your bank account hurting.
This is when a travel money card can be your friend. Such cards allow you to load up foreign currency, so you can enjoy your holiday without being stung by sky-high exchange rates and fees.
However, not all travel money cards offer the same features or charge the same conversion fees. So, while convenient, it pays to be aware of attached fees, or you might end up paying as much as you would with an FX operator.
As part of our mission to help consumers make the right choices, Canstar’s expert in-house researchers crunched the numbers on several travel money cards. And the winner is Wise, the recipient of our Travel Money Card | Outstanding Value Award 2023.
What is Wise?
Wise is more than just a simple travel money card.
Wise provides users with a single multi-currency account, that allows people in their increasingly global lives to pay, to get paid, and to spend, in any currency – wherever they are and whatever they’re doing.
Through your Wise account you can send, spend and receive foreign currencies, both online or via the Wise debit card.
All of these are done at the real market exchange rate, helping you retain as much value as possible. A single exchange fee is charged up-front, but there are no other hidden fees – you always see the total cost upfront.
What does Wise offer?
A Wise account offers:
- Account details: get account details in nine currencies (GBP, EUR, USD, AUD, NZD, SGD, CAD, HUF and TRY) in minutes, so you can pay and be paid like a local
- Direct debits: share your AU, EU and UK account details with merchants to conveniently automate and pay bills and subscriptions
- Payment methods: pay bills in NZ via a range of methods including cards, Apple Pay, bank transfer or BPay
- Manage your finances: keep track of payments and manage accounts via integration with accounting software like Quickbooks and Xero
- Saving jars: set money aside in individual Jars, for rainy days, vacations or anything else
- International money transfers: send money to over 75 countries at the real exchange rate. Money can be transferred instantly when using PayID
- Scheduled transfers: set up recurring transfers to automate the process of sending money abroad with Wise’s API
- Real-time tracking: transfer money and and view its progress in real-time
What does the Wise debit card offer?
- Spend: use the Wise debit card in over 200 countries and anywhere online
- Free to use: there are no monthly subscription, maintenance or transaction fees*
- Save money: spend at the real exchange rate, with no sneaky mark-ups
- Withdraw cash: withdraw up to NZ$350 per month for free (a small fee applies for withdrawals after the first $350)
- Security: set spending limits, freeze/unfreeze the card instantly in the app and get real-time notifications for every transactions
- Smart money-saving technology: automatically chooses the currency that offers the best conversion rate
- Virtual cards: No need to wait for your card to be delivered, your card details appear on your account as soon as your order, so you can start spending in store and online immediately, with Google or Apple Pay. Have up to three virtual cards at one time
*A small conversion fee is charged if you card doesn’t have the local currency pre-loaded, requiring currency conversion
Travel money cards: what other options do you have?
While Wise is our Travel Money Card | Outstand Value Award winner, our team crunched the numbers on four other travel money cards in this year’s award.
- Air New Zealand OneSmart
- Cash Passport Platinum Mastercard
- Travelex Money Card
- Westpac Global Currency Card
Air New Zealand OneSmart
- Load up to eight foreign currencies plus NZD at any one time (AUD, SGP, HKD, JPY, GBP, EUR, CAD and USD)
- Earn one Airpoints dollar for every NZD $100 spent overseas
- Earn one Airpoints dollar for every NZD $200 you spend domestically
- Use anywhere Mastercard is accepted
- Withdraw local currency from any ATM that accepts Mastercard
- Each month, your first three ATM withdrawals are free
Cash Passport Platinum Mastercard
- Load up to ten different currencies on one card (NZD, AUD, EUR, USD, GBP, JPY, CAD, HKD, SGD and AED)
- Lock in exchange rates each time you load and reload
- Manage and track your Cash Passport on the go via your mobile, tablet, laptop or PC
- Use your Cash Passport like you would a credit or debit card, except with your own prepaid funds. In-store, online or to withdraw local currency at ATMs
Travelex Money Card
- Manage nine popular currencies on the go including: USD, AUD, EUR, GBP, CAD, SGD, JPY, HKD and NZD
- Zero ATM, Eftpos and online shopping fees
- Shop at millions of outlets wherever MasterCard is accepted
- Optional additional emergency card 24/7 global assistance
- Exclusive discounts with Mastercard Priceless Cities benefits
Westpac Global Currency Card
- Manage it online, anytime
- Lock in exchange rates with up to nine different currencies (AUD, USD, GBP, SGD, EUR, NZD, HKD, JPY, CAD)
- No purchase fee, no monthly fees and no bank transfer fees
- 24/7 assistance
Compare Travel Money Cards
Headed off overseas and looking for the best in money cards? Here’s a rundown of some of the most popular cards in New Zealand:
The display order does not reflect any ranking or rating by Canstar. This information is not an endorsement by Canstar of travel money cards or any specific provider. Information correct as of 20/09/23. For full pricing details see individual providers’ websites.
This report was written by Canstar Content Producer, Caitlin Bingham. Caitlin is an experienced writer whose passion for creativity led her to study communication and journalism. She began her career freelancing as a content writer, before joining the Canstar team.
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