Some people like plastic, whilst others prefer cash. These two payment methods have been around for generations, and, until recently, there has been little to choose between them when it comes to choosing how to pay for goods and services.
Today, however, and particularly in the Western world, it seems that we are increasingly moving towards a “cashless” society, where debit and credit cards, or even mobile wallets, hold sway. But what about when we spend time overseas?
Ordering travel money, be it in advance, like sensible people do, using specialist providers who can deliver cash to your home or office whilst offering you the most competitive rates, or at the airport, where fees are high and exchange rates less than competitive, used to be a staple of any trip abroad. Why? Because in general, debit cards did not work in overseas cash machines, or because using them incurred high fees, not to mention those stingy exchange rates.
Banks can charge a small fortune for using their services abroad, because these kinds of services fall outside of their usual activity and hence require investment in administrative services, such as using a correspondent bank to establish a connection with a foreign bank, or making sure that there are foreign exchange reserves available.
For this reason, numerous services have sprung up that leverage today’s breakthrough disruptive technology to provide cheaper alternatives for those looking to either send money, or travel, abroad.
The latest offering is the multi-currency credit card. This is essentially a debit card that allows you to hold a number of different currencies at once, so that when you need to make a transaction in a foreign country, you can access the appropriate account and avoid paying any of the fees usually associated with paying in a foreign currency.
Ingenious, I hear you say? This is certainly a concept that would not have been possible to implement even a decade ago, but thanks to new technology, setting up overseas bank accounts today can be done almost instantaneously, in a matter of seconds – if you know the right service provider.
Let’s look at 3 of the best providers of multi currency debit cards. There is not much to choose between these services, suffice it to say that, chances are, you are better off with at least one, than none, and especially so if you frequently travel, or send money abroad.
The original, and best? TransferWise has taken London and the world by storm and is one of only a handful of fintech startups to have achieved the fabled Unicorn status – a valuation of more than $1 billion.
TransferWise’s multi-currency debit card allows users to spend in local currency around the world, without conversion fees, and all funds held are protected in because they are held at custodian accounts, with either Barclays, or Wells Fargo.
Revolut calls its contactless card “the perfect travel companion”, as it allows users to spend in more than 130 currencies, fee-free, and at the real local exchange rate.
Having raised a $250m funding round this million, Revolut is hot on the heels of TransferWise. The company, despite some teething problems, plans to release a metal (yes, metal!) debit card in the coming weeks.
MoneyCorp offers a prepaid debit card that can be used to load numerous different currencies. Known as the Explorer Card, it can be used to make cashless payments or withdraw cash without the usual fees. Beware, however, as not every store, or even cash machine, will accept the Explorer card, which can make things tricky.
This content is sourced and brought to you by The Money Cloud – comparing the best rates for sending money overseas offered by hand-picked, regulated brokers and money transfer agencies.