Wise for travel

Well I’ve ventured into Wise. As much as I can’t stand to admit it, I do use physical cash in some of the countries I visit, mainly the USA, Dubai and South Africa. So the purpose is to be able to withdraw cash from ATMs in the local currency if required rather than sorting travel cash out prior to departure from the U.K.

I found the onboarding process as easy as any other account I’ve opened recently. I funded the account with £20 from my Algbra account. I then saw the cost of the physical card at £7 which I thought was bloody steep! So I didn’t initially bother. Today however, I decided to bite the bullet and order a card and the cost had dropped to £2.50 :person_shrugging: So I’ve ordered one.

I’m off on travels in a few weeks time, so I’ll give it a whirl. I will of course be using my Chase debit card for everyday purchases in shops and supermarkets. The cash I use is mostly for use with street vendors or in my favourite establishment, the best down and dirty bar I can find :laughing:

Your Chase card would still be used to withdraw cash at no fee up to max of £1500 equivalent a month (can be raised if you contact support). However, Wise charges a small fee for its currency conversion and only give free withdrawals of £200 equivalent a month while abroad. After the £200, Wise will charge a fee of 1.75% on top. Also, you can only do 2 free ATM withdrawals in a calendar month, anything more will attract additional 50p charge.
Chase does not have all these fees.
The Wise currency conversion fee for USA is 0.44% and that for S. Africa is 0.64%.
Over to you.


Also in the USA if you use the Chase card in Chase ATMs they don’t charge the usual $5 or so. Wise is good as a backup particularly as it’s Visa and most cards are MC these days but too expensive to use as a main card abroad (as a main ATM card especially).

I’m down to just Revolut as a travel debit now. I did look at Wise but it seemed to have a lot of the same restrictions.

Revolut charges 0.5% to 1% extra on the weekend.

Wise comes with FSCS protection (investment style, not bank style) if you use their ‘interest’ option.

Both useful if you’re saving up your euros/dollars/whatever in advance but if you’re not, then it’s simpler to just use Chase/Starling directly. Those give you full FSCS protection and no weekend charges (not Monzo as it limits ATM withdrawals).

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Also worth mentioning you need to trust the cashpoint in the country you’re going to. I’m buying some RMB before I move to avoid having the situation of fake notes coming from the cashpoint and dealing with faff

Price-wise, there are generally offers for getting the initial card. Neither Wise nor Revolut charge to renew your card i.e. you just pay for the first card.

This isn’t an issue for me in South Africa as I only ever use the ATMs inside branches of FNB or Nedbank.

As far as the US is concerned, yes, stupidly I’d completely forgotten about the fact I can use Chase ATMs without fees, but I haven’t been back to the US since I opened the Chase account.

I only got the card to dabble with to be honest and I will use it but certainly not for large withdrawals from ATMs, just for a bit of back up cash. I’m not a young back packer :laughing: My idea of fun is sitting in a crap hole bar in a back street in Vegas :laughing:

I’m going to give it a one time go. I’ve read that Banca March are literally one of the only Spanish banks that still aren’t (apparently) charging for ATM withdrawals on foreign debit cards.

As I’ll have Euros on the Wise card, I’m assuming they’ll be no conversion fee anyway :thinking: plus I clearly won’t accept DCC.

I may have got all this completely wrong but at worst I only envisage losing a couple of quid in fees, nothing too heartbreaking.

And for everything else, I do of course have my Chase debit card and my Wife is still a Starling customer, so I reckon I’ve got it covered :+1:

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Looks like there’s a planned move. :grin:

Oh no, definitely not me going back to Starling. I dropped them because I got fed up to the back teeth of their boring App. Rubbish excuse for ditching them I agree :laughing: My Wife however, has no ideas of dumping them.

Anyway, and I squarely put the blame on you for me rising to your Starling highlight, it’s off topic and I don’t want any more trouble, do you hear me? :rofl:

Are you depositing euros directly to it, or converting a GBP transfer to euros within wise before withdrawing?

If it’s the latter you still get charged their FX fees (21p on £50 worth of euros according to their calculator) and pay their slightly higher markup than the Mastercard rate.

Maybe I’m misunderstanding something here for which I can only apologise for being thick :laughing: but I don’t have any Euros at all except for what I’ve converted/transferred from my Wise GBP account to Wise Euro account, so I don’t actually understand what you mean by depositing Euros directly to it? I told you I was thick :rofl:

Irrespective, if we’re just talking pence over Chase/Starling for conversion fees, it’s hardly a deal breaker in my book, but as you might say, pennies turn into ££££.

Like I say, I only intend doing one €50 withdrawal for spends with street vendors, I’m not using it for everyday spending. It really is just an experiment as far as I’m concerned. I could of course just have negated all of this faff and nipped to my local Tesco Bureau de Change, but where’s the challenge in that? :laughing:

Plenty of banks in the U.K. offer euros accounts that lets you deposit and hold your money in euros. You can transfer euros from that account to your wise euros account and there will be no fee since it’s already in euros.

It is just pence until you go over 2 withdrawals or £200. Then we’re talking £s in fees.

The reality is Wise hasn’t been close to the top for travel cards for several years, and it was never really what it was meant to be used for.

Since you have Chase, your best bet would be just stick with them, unless you’re doing Martin Lewis’s hedging trick, because for converting GBP to Euros before you go, Wise’s fee is pretty good.

I fully understand that, surely though if you have for instance, a Starling account and you transfer £££ into a Starling €€€€ account, they still charge a conversion fee? Is it really that much different to the Wise conversion rate? After all, all I’ve done is transfer the equivalent amount in GBP from my Wise GBP account to the Wise Euro account. To me, that’s just the same as whether you’re converting/moving between Starling accounts?

By the way, I do appreciate your input :+1:

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So from Starling:

Want to convert your euros into pounds or vice versa? Make it happen with a tap. You’ll get the current exchange rate with a 0.4% conversion fee added on top to cover our costs. No hidden commission, no sneaky extra charges.

Your traditional bank would charge you more than that however for the same thing (or in some cases claim no fee, but heavily markup the exchange rate instead). For comparison, Wise’s conversion fee is 0.43% (the 21p I keep banging on about), so Starling have purposely very slightly undercut the major competition for that process. But we’re talking a penny difference here on £50.

It’s this scenario where Wise typically wins though.

To summarise it briefly from most expensive to least expensive:

  • Convert from GBP to EUR with your bank
  • Convert from GBP to EUR with Wise
  • Spend in the local currency with a debit or credit card (such as chase, starling, or Barclaycard Rewards) which passes on the Mastercard base rate and charges no FX for foreign currency transactions.

If you’re buying your euros before you go, wise is a cheap way to do it providing you’re staying under the £200 withdrawal limit.

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Fantastic, well explained :+1:

Just for info, I got charged 0.22pence on the conversion with Wise at an xchange rate of 1.14824. I’m not gonna grumble and if indeed Banca March don’t levy a withdrawal fee when I get there, that’ll be a bonus in my book.

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Nah :laughing:

As it happens, I’ve just in the last couple of days received my Wise debit card. A lovely bright green :green_heart:

And before anyone gets excited, no, it’s not who I’ve been talking about elsewhere :laughing: indeed, I’m just about to stick a few Euros on it because I’ll be using the card to pull out the cash from an ATM for my ice cream and kebab spends.


You didn’t go for the eco-friendly white one made from plant starch?

They don’t do the white ones anymore. I hope they come back before mine eventually, because I really do like that card.

Not gonna lie, I did check! :rofl:

Through process of elimination from the apps on my phone I’ve whittled down the obtrusive Home Screen advertisers to First Direct and Monzo. If it’s neither of those, then it’s app I thankfully don’t use at all. A case could be made for Barclays, RBS, and Nationwide, but it’s not too bad there IMO.

Half tempted to start a thread on in app advertising in all honesty. It’s something I really can’t stand.