Digital nomad, Finances

Digital nomad’s payment cards

Traveling in different countries you will start dealing with payments in different currencies. Traditional banks usually use that in their own advantage of getting some commissions out of that. Some countries are more cash-free than other ones. So in this article, we’ll check the most popular options of the payment cards.

It’s worth mentioning that not all the cards are credit cards, and not all debit cards are regular debit cards. A lot of them are prepaid. And payment cards type gives different advantages while traveling.

General overview

Disclaimer: I am not a professional financial expert, so all of the information here is a personal opinion or observation. All the comparisons are based on the cheapest/basic plan/subscription. In the Start field, you see the amount that you’ll get if you register via the affiliate link, by clicking on the number.

BankNoNoNoYes, EUYes, EU
Card typeDebit prepaidDebit prepaidDebit prepaidCredit cardDebit prepaid
One time fee5.99€,
often free
00 9,99€ 0
Yearly fee00000
Free ATM withdrawal limit per month200€200€200€0,
each time 0.99€
5 withdrawals in €,

using non-€
Multi-currency accountsYesYesYesYesYes

🏦 Bank or not

Some of the platforms are banks, and some are not. Revolut has EU banking license, but they are not using it yet. EU banking license adds a lot of regulations to the company but the customer the only benefit is up to 100000€ money protection.

Being digital money institutions companies verify all the risks as well. But for the sake of safety, I wouldn’t keep a lot of money in the account or use it as a salary-account.

💸 Fees

In the standard packages, there are no fees for the cards, except 10€ initial fee for the bunq traveling credit card.

💳 Cards

Revolut, TransferWise, N26 and Monese offer you debit prepaid cards (either MasterCard or Visa). Honestly, in 2019/20 it should not matter, whether it’s MasterCard or Visa – they should be equally accepted (if accepted 🙂). And only bunq offer you a traveling credit card.

Prepaid debit cards can only be used when paid in the terminals, which are connected to the internet because the money is subtracted at the moment of the payment or money withdrawal.

Credit cards theoretically allow you to go below zero, and payment is executed at the end of the month. They can be used offline. And here when it becomes handy to have one: flying on the airplane the terminals most likely will not have the internet, so the only option to pay is a credit card. Some airlines companies accept debit cards, but not prepaid debit cards.

bunq‘s traveling card is intentionally designed for these situations, when you need to make an offline terminal payment or car rental, where they will reserve the money until you return the card.

🏆 Conclusion

  • Revolut is my personal choice and the winner in the comparison is. I’ve started using it many years ago and paid nothing in service fees but saves tons of money.
  • Monese I chose as a backup for Revolut, in case the card becomes invalid or stolen. Monese has also cheaper premium plans if needed, for e.g. withdrawing more money.
  • bunq attracts me as a credit card provider. And their flexible ATM withdrawal scheme is not that bad. Each time just 1€ and not a percentage of the money taken out.
  • TransferWise… honestly, I didn’t find a big advantage of their services, comparing to the other platforms, to consider opening an account there.
  • N26… I wish I could open an account, but shame on them – they don’s accept Lithuanian citizens there. I would use it as my current account in Spain.
    Update: they started to accept Lithuanian citizen, but not giving them Spanish IBAN.

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