Best prepaid travel cards in Malaysia 
Using a specific travel card when you’re spending in a foreign currency can be a smart move. Whether you’re planning a trip overseas or shopping online with a retailer based abroad, many standard debit cards add extra fees when you convert from MYR to a different currency. This can push up your overall costs. Using a prepaid travel card which has international options can be secure, convenient, and cheaper.
Some prepaid travel cards in Malaysia offer multi-currency holding accounts you can use to keep your travel money separate from your regular ringgit balance. Others let you leave your balance in MYR but charge relatively low fees, with preferential exchange rates when you spend in a foreign currency. This guide walks through a few options to consider, from specialist non-bank providers like Wise, popular ewallets like BigPay, and a couple from major Malaysian banks, too.
Best prepaid debit cards for international use
Prepaid debit cards can be offered by banks and specialist providers. They’ll be linked to a digital account you can add money to, and then spend and freely make withdrawals at home and abroad. This guide will focus on some popular prepaid debit cards which have been optimised specifically for international use. Here’s an overview of the cards we’ll feature, plus there’s lots more detail coming up soon.
Wise - great all-round prepaid card
- Large selection of 40+ supported currencies
- Mid-market exchange rates with low conversion fees
- Spend and withdraw in 150+ countries
The Wise card is a good all round option, with no ongoing fees to pay, a broad selection of supported currencies and no exchange rate markups. Use your card as and when you want to, with no hidden charges and no minimum balance to worry about.
More information about Wise ⬇️
With Wise card:
Hold and exchange 40+ currencies and exchange with the mid-market rate
Withdraw up to 1,000 MYR a month free before ATM fees apply
No ongoing charges, you only pay for the services you use
Ways to send payments to 160+ countries and get paid with local bank details for 9 currencies
It’s not all good news though:
13.7 MYR card order fee
ATM fee of 1.75% + 5 MYR once you’ve used your free withdrawals
Some transaction fees apply
Learn more: How to use Wise card abroad for travel
BigPay - great for collecting AirAsia points
- Hold MYR and spend overseas with a 1% foreign transaction fee
- Secure way to hold your travel money separately to your main bank account
- Collect AirAsia points as you spend
The BigPay card lets you add money in MYR and spend around the world with a 1% fee, while collecting AirAsia points. Because your BigPay card isn’t linked to your bank account, it's secure, and can also make it easier to manage your money when you travel. Just add the funds you want to spend, and there’s no way you can accidentally blow your budget on your trip.
More information about BigPay ⬇️
With BigPay card:
Keep your money in ringgit and spend with a low 1% foreign transaction fee
Top up, view and manage your account with your phone
Make international cash withdrawals for your travel money
Easy ways to pay bills and send money overseas from the BigPay app
It’s not all good news though:
Card order fee applies, and monthly charges may be applied if you don’t transact often
10 MYR international ATM fee
All foreign currency spending has a 1% fee
HLB - great for earning interest
- Link to a Pay&Save Account or a Pay&Save Account-i
- Hold 11 foreign currencies and spend with your HLB debit card
- Earn interest, which increases if you transact frequently and use more HLB products
The HLB Pay&Save Account and Pay&Save Account-i come with a linked debit card which you can use to spend and make withdrawals in 11 supported foreign currencies with no foreign transaction fee. This card isn’t strictly a prepaid debit card if you choose to use your HLB Pay&Save account as your main transaction account. However, because the costs of using this card are pretty low, you could open an account and keep it solely for travel if you’d like to, earning interest as you go.
More information about Hong Leong Bank ⬇️
With HLB card:
Save and spend in MYR and foreign currencies
No foreign transaction fees to spend a currency you hold in your account
Use as a full bank account or a standalone card account
Interest earning opportunities
It’s not all good news though:
You’ll need to visit a branch to open your account
Hold a balance of 200 MYR or more to avoid maintenance fees
High international ATM fees
HSBC - great for low cost global withdrawals
- 11 currencies offered for holding and exchange
- Preferential exchange rates available
- Benefits for Advance and Premier customers
The HSBC Everyday Global card lets you hold 11 currencies, and has low or no cost ATM withdrawals in HSBC Malaysia and internationally. The fees and benefits available will depend on your HSBC customer status - there are perks for Advance and Premier customers who hold a higher balance with HSBC.
More information about HSBC ⬇️
With HSBC card:
Hold 11 currencies, with no fee to spend a currency you have in your account
Get preferential exchange rates
If you choose to you can use your Everyday Global account as a main bank account
Some ATM withdrawals are free, and costs are lower overseas if you use HSBC ATM terminals
It’s not all good news though:
Exchange rates are likely to include a markup
Some transaction fees apply, which vary based on your customer status
10 MYR annual dormant account fee
What is a prepaid travel card?
A prepaid card is usually a debit card that’s linked to an account from a bank or specialist provider, which doesn’t include an overdraft facility. That means you’ll need to add a balance to the account before you can spend, but you can’t accidentally blow your budget, and there’s no interest to pay either.
This guide looks specifically at cards that are optimised for travel. This usually means they’ve got options to hold a foreign currency balance, with no extra fee to spend a currency you hold when you’re abroad. We’ve included a couple of cards in our roundup which can be used either as prepaid cards or as full bank accounts. To use these cards in a similar way to a prepaid card you’d just need to ensure no overdraft facility is set up, and only add money you want to spend overseas.
Pros and cons of travel prepaid cards
Travel prepaid cards can be helpful when you’re travelling overseas, but also when you’re shopping online. If you’re going to be paying in a foreign currency, use your travel card to settle the bill, and you could find you get a better exchange rate and lower overall cost compared to using your normal bank card. Here are a few of the key pros and cons of travel prepaid cards for you to think about when you’re deciding if one is right for you.
How do I get a travel prepaid card?
Generally you’ll need to get a travel prepaid card from a specialist service by ordering online and having it delivered to your home. If you’d like a card from your bank you’ll usually need to visit a branch and can either collect your card instantly or have it delivered later.
In all cases you’ll need to provide some ID and a proof of address to get your travel card. This is for verification and to ensure your account can be kept secure. Banks may request that you go to a branch and take along your documents to show a staff member. Digital options, such as Wise and BigPay, have ways you can get verified without leaving home - just upload images of your documents instead.
Generally, you’ll need to add some money to your account to activate your prepaid travel card - but the entire process is usually pretty straightforward and doesn’t require a credit check.
Fees and charges when travelling abroad with a prepaid card
When you use a foreign currency, either to make a payment or when you’re getting cash from an ATM, there are usually some extra fees to consider. Different cards have their own charges, so you’ll need to read your terms and conditions document carefully - here are a couple of important charges to look out for:
Fees when paying with your prepaid bank card abroad
If you spend with a bank card overseas you’ll often find a foreign transaction fee applies. If your bank account offers multi-currency account balances - such as the RHB and HLB accounts we’ve detailed in this guide - you may avoid this charge, but only if you’ve already topped up your account in MYR and changed it to the currency you need before you spend. Otherwise your spending will have an extra fee added. This cost can vary pretty widely depending on the bank and the specific card network.
Here are a few of the foreign transaction fees that apply with cards from major Malaysian banks, as an example:
Maybank cards issued on American Express network: 2.5%
Maybank cards issued on Visa/Mastercard network: 2%
Public Bank cards (usually Visa network): 1.25%
HSBC Malaysia cards: 1%
Fees when withdrawing cash with your bank card abroad
Standard bank cards also have ATM fees which can often be pretty high when you’re making an international ATM withdrawal. These charges can vary pretty widely and be quite complicated to understand.
The final fee you pay may depend on the specific ATM you use, or the value of your withdrawal, for example. Make sure you read your bank’s fee schedule before you make a withdrawal so there are no surprises - and keep an eye on the ATM screen to make sure the ATM operator isn’t adding an extra charge, as well.
Travel prepaid cards fees and charges
Prepaid travel cards usually have fees that may apply, although what you pay overall will depend on how you transact. It’s important to read through the fee schedule associated with your card carefully to make sure you’re not caught out by surprise costs. Some to watch out for include:
Card order fee
Top up fees
Account maintenance fees
Foreign exchange fees
ATM withdrawal fees
Inactivity or dormancy fees
Account closure fees
Statement retrieval fees
Look for a card which has transparent fees that are clearly shown and easy to understand, such as the Wise card.
Is there any travel prepaid card with no fees?
You’ll almost always pay some fees when you get a travel prepaid card. However, some cards have no monthly maintenance costs which means there’s not an ongoing fee to pay. You just pay for the services you need to use.
Choosing a card which allows you to hold a foreign currency balance lets you add money in ringgit and then convert in advance to the currency you need in your destination, so there will be no extra charge to spend while you’re away. That can make it easier to keep an eye on your balance and manage your travel budget.
Adding money onto your prepaid debit card
Different cards offer a selection of ways to add money to your prepaid card. It’s almost always possible to add money from your bank using FPX, and you can sometimes top up with a card as well. In some cases you can add cash by visiting an agent or branch location, but bear in mind that the fees for different top up methods may vary. While you might find it’s free or cheap to add money by FPX, adding cash or paying with a credit card can be more costly.
Are prepaid travel cards safe?
Generally using a travel card is a safe way to spend while you’re abroad. If you get a prepaid travel card which is separate to your everyday MYR account, that adds an extra layer of security to your finances, as well. If you were unlucky and lost your travel card, you can cancel it conveniently in the provider or bank’s app, without having to cancel your primary payment card.
Some card providers like Wise also offer virtual cards which come along with physical payment cards. A virtual card has different card numbers to your physical card and can be used when making online purchases. If you’re ever concerned about the card being compromised, you just cancel it and create a new one.
How are deposits on prepaid debit cards protected?
If you choose a prepaid card from a licensed Malaysian bank your funds will be protected by PIDM insurance. There’s no need to sign up for PIDM, it applies automatically, and is intended to protect bank customers in the event that the bank runs into financial difficulties.
Providers like Wise protect customer funds differently, through a process called safeguarding. This means that any balance you hold with a service like Wise is deposited in a top tier bank and held separately to Wise’s own operating capital. That means it can’t be spent by Wise, and is kept safe for when you need it.
What’s the difference between a travel prepaid card and a credit card?
Travel prepaid cards are debit cards. Before you can spend, you’ll need to add a balance. And because there’s usually no overdraft function, you can’t spend more than you add to your account, making them handy for managing a budget. The downside to this is that you won’t be able to spread out the costs of travel over a few months - but the advantage is that you’ll not need to pay interest, there are no penalty fees, and there’s no credit check needed, either.
Tips to use your card abroad
Before you travel check out these few tips to help make your money go further while you’re away:
Always pay in the local currency wherever you are to avoid hidden charges
Take several cards with you, ideally on different payment networks, so you’ve got a back up if one fails
Be careful when making ATM withdrawals, to make sure that the ATM operator doesn’t charge their own usage fees in addition to your card’s fee
Check all the card fees carefully, so there are no surprises when you travel
Best prepaid travel cards FAQs
Which is the best prepaid travel card?
There’s no single best prepaid travel card, so which is right for you will depend on how you intend to use it. If you want a low cost card you can use with no ongoing fees, which supports a good selection of currencies, check out the Wise card. For a card you can use to earn interest and for easy spending, try HLB.
What are the advantages of a prepaid travel card?
Prepaid travel cards are convenient and cheap to use, and often support holding a foreign currency balance which means you can spend overseas with no additional fee to pay. Each card has its own features and fees, so comparing a few before you decide is important. Check out the Wise card and BigPay for example, for good examples of prepaid cards with their own strong features.
Should I use a debit, credit or prepaid card abroad?
Using a card is popular, but which type of card really depends on your personal preferences. Prepaid cards are helpful if you want a card that sits separately to your main ringgit account, while debit cards can be more flexible for use at home. Credit cards can come with higher fees and more stringent eligibility requirements, but they’re useful as a payment guarantee when checking into a hotel, for example. Having one or two different card types is usually a good idea, so you can use the right card for the specific transaction you need to make.