There are cards without commissions abroad, but these are not usually the ones given by traditional banks such as ING, Banco Santander or BBVA, with commissions of between 3 and 5% plus other costs for paying in another currency or withdrawing money from ATMs.
Here, I am going to detail the best cards to travel abroad, so that you can pay and withdraw money without commissions at ATMs around the world.
And best of all, many are free and have no maintenance costs! (with some limits, but no small print).
Even if you already have a card, it’s always nice to have a second one. If it is lost, damaged or your own bank blocks it for security (something quite common when you go abroad if you do not notice it beforehand), you can run out of cash in the other part of the world.
Another of the main advantages of these cards is that they have mobile applications with which you can manage everything, without having to go to a bank branch, wait for your card movements to be updated or have to call from abroad. before any incident.
Also read: What are neobanks, how do they work and what are their services?
Best cards without commissions abroad
The rules of the banking game have changed thanks to online banks that offer free cards and accounts without fees, so here are the best cards to pay and withdraw money abroad!
First I will give you a summary table with the main characteristics of the best debit cards for traveling and then I will go into detail with each one, telling you about my experience, I have tried them all!
|Bank||banking license||Minimum requirements (income, payroll…)||card delivery||Free withdrawals/month||Cost per withdrawal in €||Commission refund (from the ATM) in Spain||Cost for withdrawal in another currency||Commission payments in another currency|
|Yes||Nope||Free||Up to €200||3%||Nope||3%||0%|
|wise||Nope||Nope||€7||2 (up to £200)||£0.50 + 1.75%||Nope||£0.50 + 1.75%||0% (if you have money in that currency)|
|Revolut||Nope||Nope||€6||Up to €/£200||two%||Nope||two%||0%|
|EVO||Yes||Yes||Free||two||€1||Nope||They use their own exchange rate||They use their own exchange rate|
N26: the best card to pay in another currency and use as a current account in Spain
This is my favorite of all. You can get it in less than 10 minutes online with a video call or by following a few simple steps and you have a virtual debit card instantly that you can link to Google or Apple Pay to make payments and withdraw money with your mobile at ATMs that accept contactless (there are more and more). For this, your mobile also has to have NFC.
If you want them to send you a physical card to your home, with the free account, then it costs €10.
When you order an N26 card, you are opening a current account with a Spanish IBAN, so you can even direct debit your salary and receipts.
If you put your address in Spain it will be opened with a Spanish IBAN, and if you live in any other country in the eurozone with a German IBAN.
They have a banking license, so your savings are guaranteed up to €100,000, just like the rest of the traditional banks.
They do not ask you to enter payroll or domicile anything. You simply have to reside in a country of the European Union and be of legal age.
N26 Card Features
- 3 free withdrawals per month at ATMs anywhere in the world, then €2 per withdrawal. In Spain, it returns the commission that any other bank charges you, you can withdraw for free in the one you want! If you domicile your salary, you will have 5 free withdrawals.
- When you withdraw money in a currency other than the euro, you will be charged the Mastercard exchange rate + 1.7% of the amount you withdraw (most banks charge you at least 3% + commission for withdrawal).
- Free European transfers.
- Card payments abroad in another currency without commissions. They directly apply the exchange rate that Mastercard has at that moment (most banks, such as ING Direct, charge you at least 3% in exchange).
- To put money in your account, you can do it by direct debiting your salary or by bank transfer (they are free in the vast majority of banks).
Order an N26 card
This card suits you compared to the others that I detail below if you live in Spain and want to withdraw money from any ATM for free and also if you travel both to countries in the eurozone and to others where you need to pay in another currency and you are not going to make more than 3 cash withdrawals per month.
It is the only one of all the cards that I give you that returns the commission charged by ATMs in Spain. Let me explain, in many, they do not charge you for withdrawing money, but here there are always two commissions, the one charged by your card and the one charged by the ATM itself, something that N26 also covers (up to 3 times a month in Spain) and the rest no.
This bank also offers you several premium options such as the N26 You card, which costs €9.90 per month and in return includes the following advantages:
- Travel insurance that covers medical expenses up to 1 million euros. If you were already going to take out travel insurance and it was going to cost you more than €118.80, for that reason alone this card is right for you. I tell you €118.80 because that is what this card is worth per year, which is the minimum contracting period.
- Withdrawals abroad with free currency exchange. The official Mastercard exchange rate is used, without adding 1.7%. If you withdraw more than €580 per month at ATMs abroad, this option is also more profitable than the free one.
Besides, they also have other accounts, the N26 Smart, which is only worth €4.90 per month, and the best of all, the N26 Metal, is the one I have and includes damage and theft insurance for your mobile phone and car rental insurance. car when you travel. The card they give you is metal and is already worth €16.90 per month.
|Plan||maintenance cost||Free withdrawals/month||Cost per withdrawal in € (once the free limit is exceeded)||Cost for withdrawal in another currency||Commission payments in another currency||Other advantages|
|N26 Standard||€0||3||€2||1.7%||0%||5 free withdrawals if you domicile your payroll|
|N26 Smart||€4.90||5||€2||1.7%||0%||Free card delivery|
|N26 You||€9.90||5||€2||0%||0%||Travel insurance|
|N26 Metal||€16.90||8||€2||0%||0%||Travel, mobile and car rental insurance – Metal card|
Vivid Money: best if you want to invest in cryptocurrencies and stocks
Vivid Money is the latest online bank that has come out and beware that it brings very interesting functionalities and advantages.
It operates thanks to Solaris Bank, a German bank with a banking license in this country and therefore also allows it to operate throughout the European Union.
The two most interesting things about this innovative card is that it allows you to easily invest in cryptocurrencies and virtual stocks and it has a rewards program with which you can get up to €100 a month back on your card.
You can have different pockets that call you with money in your currency, in other currencies that you want to change to at any time, stocks and cryptocurrencies.
When you change money from one currency to another, they make you the change that the ECB has at that moment with a commission of 0.5% in most cases (sometimes up to 1%). This is sometimes better than the exchange itself indicated by VISA or Mastercard, which is what most cards are governed by.
Vivid Money Card Features
With the free plan you have:
- A bank account with IBAN from Spain
- Free card delivery
- Up to €20 cashback
- Commission-free payments worldwide
- free transfers
- Free withdrawals at ATMs up to €200/month (minimum €50)
- 24/7 customer service in Spanish (and quite fast)
Request a free metal card from Vivid
If you like the world of investing in stocks and cryptocurrencies, this is your card.
To withdraw money from ATMs is not the best since after the limit of €200 per month they already charge you 3%, but if you are one of those who pays everything with a card, you can take advantage of their rewards system.
With the payment plan, called Prime, you already have up to €100 a month of cashback: 0.1% on all purchases, 10% on Netflix and Spotify, 3% in any restaurant outside the EU…
And all that money goes to a separate portfolio with which you can invest in virtual stocks and then withdraw it whenever you want. These virtual shares are actually called fractional shares, a concept that is very well explained to you when you activate this service.
The Prime option already costs €9.90 per month, something that you can more than amortize with its rewards system and that you can also try for 1 month to see if it’s really worth it or not.
Important, it is not one of those subscriptions that you do the test and then they charge you for forgetting to unsubscribe, before passing the Prime plan they ask you if you are interested in continuing and you have to accept it.
Wise: the best card to have money in various currencies and receive international transfers
Wise, formerly known as TransferWise, is one of the first platforms created to make currency exchanges at low cost and now they also offer their own Mastercard debit card, with which you can withdraw money at ATMs around the world and make payments in different currencies without paying hardly commissions.
The great advantage that Wise presents compared to all the options that I put here is that in the same account you can have bank account numbers of:
- United Kingdom
- New Zealand
And this without the need to be living in these countries!
This is very useful if, for example, you arrive in any of these countries, find a job and need to give a local account number so that they can pay your salary and thus not have to deal with the requirements that foreign banks ask you to open an account. to your name.
Features of the Wise Mastercard
The Wise Mastercard is one more complement to the multi-currency account that Wise offers you. That is, you can open a Wise account without having to ask for the card to be sent to you.
With the Wise Mastercard, you can make payments without commissions in other currencies only if you have money in that currency in your balances, otherwise, you will have to convert it and pay a commission that ranges from 0.35 to 2% in most cases.
Using this card to pay in different currencies is only convenient for you compared to the rest if you receive money for transfers in the currencies that you are going to use. For example, if you work as a freelancer and receive payments from Australia, New Zealand, the USA or the United Kingdom, they can make transfers to you without additional costs and you can save the money in those currencies to use them with your card or make transfers without paying commissions.
At the time of withdrawing money from an ATM abroad, the same, they do not charge you a commission if you have a balance with money in the currency that you are going to use. As soon as you withdraw more than 200 pounds per month, they charge you 1.75% + £0.50.
Open an account with Wise
Opening an account with Wise is free and requesting your Borderless card has a cost that varies depending on the country where you want to receive it.
In Spain, for example, the shipping costs are €7 and in Australia it is free.
Neither the account nor the card has any maintenance cost unless you have more than €15,000 in it, for which they already charge you 0.40% per year.
Revolut: the pioneer, but without a banking license in Spain
Revolut is a lifelong prepaid card, one of those that you top up with the money you want to spend and until it came out, it was undoubtedly the best for investing in cryptocurrencies and changing money to other currencies instantly.
Although they have a banking license in Lithuania, in Spain they operate with an electronic money license, so your savings are not protected up to €100,000 as is the case with N26 or Vivid.
It may be one of the most popular that I put here since it was one of the first to come out, but over time they have been removing some advantages and they even charge you for putting money into an account through card payments.
Characteristics of the Revolut card when used abroad
- Withdraw money for free at ATMs around the world, up to €200 or £200, and then they charge you 2% (up from N26’s 1.7%). This is something that they hide in their conditions (or at least I haven’t found it) when you look at their plans. In the app at least if it lets you see how your free limits are going.
- Interbank exchange rate to withdraw money from foreign ATMs in a currency other than the euro. This is the same as Vivid, but Revolut does not charge you that 0.5% that most of these transactions cost unless it exceeds €1,000.
- If you pay at a store in foreign currency, the interbank exchange rate also applies (limit of €6,000 per month, then 0.5% applies).
- Free currency exchange up to €6,000. You have the option of having several currencies on the same card (there are up to 26 currencies available from other countries). For example, you have €100 on your card balance and you want to change it into pounds, you can change it instantly, knowing how many pounds you are going to get for each euro. You can then pay or withdraw money using that currency.
- You can load the card with money instantly, making a payment with another card that you have associated. This is very comfortable and was great before it was free, but now they charge you a percentage of around 1.35%, that is, if you want to put €500, they charge you €6.68.
The main drawback of this card is that sometimes by default it charges you in pounds and applies a double conversion with which you lose money and for which they are not responsible.
It only offers you one free international transfer per month.
Their customer service by chat is lousy, they usually take a long time to answer in English.
They don’t have very good press and have been involved in a few “worker exploitation” scandals.
Request the Revolut card
This card is especially convenient for you when you are in countries with a currency other than the euro, where it is necessary to make a currency exchange every time you pay or withdraw money at an ATM, since sometimes it is the one that makes the best change of all.
When you spend more than €200 per month, since they already charge you 2%, then the N26 may be more convenient for you. You can order both, use Revolut up to €200 and then N26.
They charge you €6 shipping costs.
This card also has several payment options, from €2.99 per month to the €13.99/month that its metal card costs. The main features of the payment plans are:
- Extend the limit of free withdrawals
- Fewer commissions when exchanging between the most famous cryptocurrencies, such as Bitcoin, Ethereum and Litecoin.
- Free card delivery
EVO: the worst card of all these to travel abroad
EVO is a Spanish bank that has more than 40 offices throughout Spain, open from 9:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m., and among its products, the EVO Smart Account stands out, with which they give you a card that you can withdraw money at ATMs all over the world. world for free, but be careful with the change they apply!
Characteristics of the EVO smart card when used abroad
- Withdraw money for free at more than 12,000 ATMs in Spain and at the rest of it is a minimum amount of €120, with no transaction limit
- You have 2 free withdrawals at any other ATM in Spain. From the third EVO it only costs €1 and they assume the rest of the cost up to a maximum of €2.
- Free cash withdrawal at any ATM in the world, with no minimum amount and no transaction limit.
- Currency Exchange – They have their own exchange rate, usually well above the official Visa or Mastercad ones and this is where they lose out to N26 and Revolut.
- If you pay in a foreign currency at a store, they apply their own exchange rate, so it is also more expensive to pay in another currency with this card than with the others mentioned here. In payment in pounds, for example, you would be paying around 2.7% more than with another card that only applies the Visa exchange rate.
You can also get it without having to go to an office, with a video call, but here, unlike what happens with the N26 and Revolut, if you have to direct payroll, pension or unemployment or make a monthly income of at least €600.
If you are between 25 and 35 years old, it is enough to make 6 payments a year of €300 each, by means of a transfer from another entity, direct debit your mobile bill and make at least two payments a month.
Request an EVO Smart Account
When there is no currency exchange involved, the EVO smart card is the best to withdraw money from ATMs for free, since it does not have the limit of 5 withdrawals or €200, from which they start charging you, as if they have the N26 or Revolut respectively.
So this card is the best and is especially convenient if you want to have a Spanish account number, you have a payroll and if you travel to countries in the eurozone.
EVO and its previous brands were the pioneers in issuing this type of card in Spain, to withdraw money abroad
What are Visa and Mastercard?
In order for you to understand the costs of using a card, it is convenient to understand well what Visa and Mastercard are.
One thing is your bank and another is Visa and Mastercard. Your bank is where you have your bank account, where your savings are.
And, Visa and Mastercard are two independent companies, among many other things are dedicated to issuing cards in collaboration with your bank or any other entity related to financial products.
Every time a person pays at a store with his card, for example, Visa, it takes a percentage of said purchase, which is never paid by the buyer, always by the merchant.
That is why many stores they do not accept cards or they only do so for a minimum purchase, to avoid these commissions (and in many cases also to evade taxes on the Treasury).
Another great business of Visa and Mastercard is in currency exchanges when withdrawing money from an ATM or paying abroad.
Maybe your bank tells you that it does not charge you anything for this currency exchange, but who will not forgive you will be Visa or Mastercard, they will always charge you. (Except for Revolut and Vivid that use the interbank interest rate and they already manage with Mastercard and Visa)
The exchange rate offered by Visa or Mastercard is where banks usually apply an extra cost that sometimes goes up to 4%, or they directly refer you to their own exchange rates (above those of Visa or Mastercard and they remain with the difference like the EVO smart card does).
So, a bank can offer you a card that does not charge you for withdrawing money abroad but can charge you a high commission for currency exchange.
Comparison of how many euros it costs me to withdraw $100 with the different cards without commissions
To give you a clearer idea, here is how many euros would be charged to our card by withdrawing $100 from an ATM in the US on April 27, 2021.
To these amounts, you should always add what the local ATM charges you.
N26 You: €82.92
The change offered by Mastercard.
The change offered by Mastercard + 1.7%.
Change of the ECB + 2% if you have already exceeded the free limit of €200 per month.
If you do it within its free limits, it would be €82.82, then it wins everyone.
Mastercard exchange + 0.41% for currency exchange + 1.75% + £0.50.
If you withdraw money within their free limits (£200/month) it would cost you €83.13.
Exchange of the ECB + 0.5% for currency exchange + 3% for withdrawing money once your free limit of €200 per month has passed.
If you do it within its free limits, it would be only €83.20.
They establish their own exchange rate, they say that they do not charge you anything and it is with whom you get the most expensive.
Try withdrawing money abroad at the same time with N26, Revolut and Bnext
And leaving mathematics and theories aside, some time ago I decided to do a real test and taking advantage of the fact that I was in the Philippines, I tried the 2 cards that I used the most so far, to see which of them definitely gives me the best chance.
I carried out this test on November 9, 2018 at 01:10 am, at a BDO ATM, which adds 250 pesos to the amount you are going to withdraw (as the vast majority of ATMs in the Philippines do).
I have withdrawn 10,000 pesos, which with what the cashier adds, would be 10,250 pesos.
Here is what each card has charged me:
The limit of withdrawing €200 had already passed, after which they charge you 2%, a total of €3.40. Assuming I had used it within the free limits, I would have been charged €169.81.
Even charging you 1.7% of the Mastercard change, it beats Revolut when you spend more than €200 per month with it.
In conclusion, what is the best card to use abroad?
Well, it depends on the use you are going to give them, but personally, I think that the best option is to order all of them (except the one from EVO Banco) since you can do it in a few clicks, they do not ask for many requirements and they do not have maintenance costs or minimum uses.
And so you can use each of them up to their free limits.
For example, I always go with the N26 and, furthermore, of those that I have listed here, they are the only ones with a European banking license.
This is important to know since you have to remember what happened back in the day with PayPal prepaid cards (which were actually from the YouniqueMoney company), with which many customers were unable to get their money back when it stopped working.
Previously, I used more Revolut, but since they made me a double conversion in a couple of purchases and especially since they started charging for putting money on the card, I have stopped using it completely.
In N26 now I have my savings because they have a banking license, it is safer and they offer Spanish IBAN. It is also the one that I use to withdraw money from any ATM in Spain because they return the commission to me (it is the only one that does it of those that I have put here) and with Vivid it is with whom I pay with a card to accumulate rewards, especially abroad where they give me back 3% of what I spend in restaurants.
To withdraw money abroad I only use N26, which since I have the Metal, they do not charge me anything, apart from having travel insurance.
Tell us about your experience or ask any questions you have
If you know any other card to withdraw money and pay abroad without commissions, you want to comment on your experience with any of these or you have any questions, leave a comment!