The Best International Prepaid Debit Cards

Originally published at: The Best International Prepaid Debit Cards

Sometimes, when you’re traveling, you find yourself spending way more than you budgeted for. Prepaid travel cards can be fantastic in helping you to control your spending. Plus, when you are abroad it’s always a smart idea to have more than one way to access your money, just in case.

International prepaid cards have gained so much popularity amongst avid travelers and digital nomads recently. This is because they offer many advantages and various options for the users.

In this article, I want to introduce you to prepaid debit cards. What are they? How can you use them to your advantage? And which one offers the best deals? Keep reading this article to find out.

What Is a Prepaid Card?

Essentially a prepaid debit card is similar in function to a debit card. You can use it to make ATM withdrawals, payments in stores, and in some cases online purchases. The difference is, you won’t be bothered with an overdraft. This is because you won‘t be able to spend more than you already have on the card. It is more convenient to carry and safer than carrying a lot of cash on you. So the idea is pretty basic. However, prepaid cards can be life-savers abroad. Especially if you choose a card that is suited for digital nomads or avid travelers.

I’ve personally found prepaid debit cards to be excellent budgeting tools. As you can top it up with how much you think you should spend, and literally can’t go overdrawn. This way you will be more careful and think about your spending. Additionally, there should be no extra fees or surprising costs depending on exchange rate fluctuations. Plus, you won’t waste any time looking for a currency exchange office in a foreign environment, giving you more time to have fun on your trip.

How Does a Prepaid Card Work?

Basically, you will pick up your prepaid card before you leave home, and you can top them in dollars online. Then, you will be able to select the currency you need when you are abroad and easily switch your balance. This means that you will know exactly how much you have in foreign currency.

There are also some cards that don’t exchange your dollars before your trip but do it if and when you use it for spending. These are closer to using a regular debit card. However, you won’t be able to see the exchange rates until after the transaction.

One awesome bonus security feature of a prepaid debit card is that it’s not linked to any of your other accounts. This means that in the case of fraud or theft, whoever stole your card won’t be able to access your normal bank balance. This is a huge relief wherever you are in the world.

The Advantages and Disadvantages of Prepaid Cards


  • Opportunity to lock in the exchange rate before traveling to avoid rate volatility
  • Ability to load several currencies into a single card
  • Ability to make ATM withdrawals, shopping payments, and online transactions
  • Monitor spending
  • Option to gift
  • With some cards; benefits such as travel insurance, concierge, travel lounge, and more


  • Chance of getting frozen accounts or funds
  • It may take up to a few days in some instances to load the card, which can leave you stranded in a foreign country for cash
  • However, while the opportunity to lock in exchange rates can prove to be a huge advantage, currencies can also fluctuate unfavorably
  • No overdraft facility
  • It may not be allowed in all locations, such as hotels where only credit cards operate

How To Get an International Prepaid Debit Card?

Getting a prepaid card is usually pretty simple. You can get it from almost any bank in your country. Though there are some banks that offer cards with better benefits than others, as you’ll see later in this article when we dive deeper into the types of debit cards you can acquire.

Generally, the application is free, easy, and straightforward. All you need to do is fill an application form (some banks offer online applications), provide your personal details and proof of identity. Once the application is processed and your identity is verified, the card will be sent to your house. Then, you can load the currency of your choice and start using it. You will often need an app that you can download to use with the card.

Best Prepaid Debit Cards For International Use

Wise is an online neo-bank that offers a massive range of services. For those based in the US, UK, Australia, New Zealand, or Europe, Wise is a fantastic option. You can open a free Wise Multi-Currency Account online, and get a Wise debit card.

You will be able to hold over 40 currencies in your account. Additionally, you will get local bank details for major currencies like US, New Zealand, Australian and Canadian dollars, British Pounds, and Euros. With these accounts, you’ll be able to receive payment from these regions for free.

You can also convert currencies easily using the mid-market exchange rate and for a low fee that you see upfront. You can spend any currency you hold on your card for free, and withdraw up to $250 (or it’s equivalent in other currency) monthly for free. After that limit, there’s a small ATM fee.

Review on Wise Multi-Currency Account