Best prepaid travel money cards 2023

Which prepaid travel card do you need?

Prepaid travel cards, also known as ‘currency cards’, allow you to load money in pounds and spend in another currency.

They typically come with no foreign exchange fees on spending or cash withdrawals and usually allow you to lock in competitive exchange rates, saving you money compared with using your everyday debit or credit card.

Here are the different types of prepaid travel cards to consider packing for your next trip:

  • Multi-currency prepaid cards allow you to load several currencies onto one card, ideal for visiting multiple destinations. For example, you could have £100, $200 and €300 stored on one card in different ‘wallets’. You can lock in rates by converting when you load the cash, or store some money in pounds to convert later.
  • Sterling prepaid cards offer the most flexibility, as you can load your card with pounds and spend in dozens of different currencies. Each time you spend or withdraw cash, the pounds are converted to the required currency at the exchange rate on the day. This may make it harder to forecast how much money you’ll have available in any given destination.

The best multi-currency prepaid cards

Multi-currency prepaid cards allow you to load a variety of major currencies in one place.

We’ve analysed the main providers of multi-currency prepaid cards including the type of currency offered, load fees (loading money onto the card), fees for withdrawing cash, and inactivity fees that could catch you out.

Please note the table is ordered alphabetically, not ranked in order of features.

The Post Office Travel Money Card can load the most currencies, however, charges apply for cash withdrawals at an ATM – so if you’re planning on doing this during your holiday, you might be better off with a different card.

Sainsbury’s, Travelex and Asda had similar offers with free ATM withdrawals and £500 limits. Nectar cardholders can get better exchange rates at Sainsbury’s, so this may be worth considering.

All the cards allow you to load money that is immediately converted to a foreign currency free of charge. However, more than half of the providers charge a fee of up to 2% for topping up your wallet with pounds to convert at a later date. So if you plan on doing this often you may be better off with one that doesn’t charge.

The best sterling prepaid cards

Sterling prepaid cards offer the most flexible option for travellers and our analysis shows they can be as competitive as single and multi-currency deals.

We looked at the exchange rates offered, as well as the fees you’ll pay and maximum balances.

Please note the table is ordered alphabetically, not ranked in order of features.

These cards are convenient as it means you can load as much currency as you want into your account, however, you’ll need to download an app to use them.

The Revolut card is free and you will incur no fees on the exchange rate if you convert money Monday to Friday – therefore it’s worth loading up and exchanging before the weekend. You’ll be charged fees if you withdraw more than £200 a month.

The Wise card uses the interbank exchange rate but charges a smaller 0.45% fee every day of the week. It also has two fee-free cash withdrawals of up to £200 each month.

Both Wise and Revolut are regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and operate under e-money licenses. This means your money is not protected by the FSCS, however, your money is held in ring-fenced client accounts with a bank which means your money can’t be lent out.

What exchange rate do you pay?

Prepaid card providers offer different exchange rates.

Some use the ‘interbank rate’ (the rate banks charge one another) and others may use Mastercard or Visa’s exchange rates.

In some cases, a provider may pick one of these rates, then apply a percentage on top, usually between 1% and 2.5%.

When picking a prepaid travel card you should compare the exchange rates offered as well as the card’s fees.

Fees and charges to watch out for

Prepaid cards designed for spending abroad are usually cheaper than spending on your everyday debit or credit card.

However, almost all prepaid cards currently on the market come with a variety of fees and charges. Common charges to watch out for include:

  • Application fees – some providers apply a one-off charge to open the account ranging from £5 to £10, though most will offset this if you load a certain amount.
  • Monthly fees – the worst prepaid cards will charge an ongoing fee just for holding the card. It can range from £2 to £5 a month, which can be hugely expensive over a year.
  • Top-up fees – if you’re using a credit card to top up your prepaid card you could be charged a fee by your prepaid card provider. Plus as it counts as a ‘cash transaction’ your credit card provider could charge you a fee and interest. So it’s usually best to use a debit card to top-up your account.
  • UK and foreign ATM withdrawal fees – some prepaid cards charge for using ATMs abroad, usually £1.50 to £2 per withdrawal. Some providers will waive the fee if you withdraw a certain amount. You can minimise the risk of being hit with fees by planning how much you want to spend before you travel and taking out cash in one lump sum.
  • Cross border fees – if you use your prepaid card for a transaction that’s not in your card’s currency, you could be charged a fee of around 2.75%.
  • Inactivity fees – if you don’t use your card you could also face a penalty. Some providers will charge around £2 a month if you haven’t spent on the card within 12 months.
  • Replacement fees – prepaid cards, like credit and debit cards, come with an expiry date, which can range between one and five years after opening. You’ll normally have to pay a renewal fee of around £5 if you want to continue to use the account.
  • Redemption fees – some providers charge a fee to get any money you haven’t used back. This can be up to £10 so it’s wise to only load what you plan to spend and nothing more.

Prepaid cards also often come with limits on loading and transactions, which could leave you in a tricky situation if you aren’t aware of them.

Alternatives to prepaid travel cards

Prepaid cards are a safe way to carry cash overseas. But you won’t be able to spend from your main current accounts or borrow money in an emergency.

A credit card with low fees on overseas spending can work out as the best option for purchases made abroad, as long as the bill is paid off in full each month. For a credit card with low overseas spending fees, check out the best travel credit cards.

Alternatively, many banks offer debit cards with fee-free overseas spending. We round up your options in our guide to the best debit cards to use abroad.

That said, applying for a credit card or current account for a debit card requires a credit check, whereas applying for a prepaid card doesn’t. So if you have a poor or no credit history it will be easier for you to get a prepaid card.


Currensea has launched what it calls the ‘first UK direct debit travel card’. This card is linked to your bank account which means you do not need to top up the card, as long as you have money in your account.

It provides a layer over your existing bank account that will allow you to spend in all 180 currencies without charges. It uses the interbank exchange rate for 16 major currencies and Mastercard rates for all other available currencies.

Currensea doesn’t charge any non-sterling transaction fees or dormancy fees. For personal accounts, there is a 0.5% markup on the exchange rate. ATM withdrawals are free under a limit of £500 a month. After this, a 2% fee will be applied.

Is it worth getting a prepaid card?

If you’re considering getting a prepaid travel card, here are the pros and cons to weigh up.

Each card provider will have its own terms and conditions, so read them carefully before you sign up.

What are the pros of getting a prepaid card?

  • Widely accepted around the world.
  • Comes with chargeback protection.
  • Can help you budget and avoid overspending.
  • Could be cheaper for overseas spending and withdrawals.

What are the disadvantages of getting a prepaid card?

  • Not accepted for pre-authorised transactions such as hiring a car.
  • No Section 75 protection on purchases over £100.
  • Low withdrawal limits and no way to borrow money in an emergency.
  • Come with a variety of fees including charges for lack of use.

Prepaid travel cards FAQs

Still have questions about prepaid travel cards? Take a look at our FAQs to see if we have the answer.