The 6 Best Travel Money Cards for Europe
If you’re travelling to Europe, a travel money card can make spending and withdrawing cash when you’re away cheaper and more convenient. Different types of travel money cards, including travel debit cards, prepaid travel cards and travel credit cards, are available to support different customer needs. The right one for you will depend on your personal preference and how you like to manage your money.
Read on for all you need to know, including a closer look at travel money card types, some great options to consider, and the sorts of fees you need to think about when you choose.
Wise - our pick for travel money card for Europe
Before we get into details about different travel money card options, let’s start with the Wise card as a good all-round option that allows you to hold and spend euros, as well as a diverse range of other European and world currencies.
Wise accounts have the flexibility to hold and exchange more than 40 currencies, plus you can get a linked Wise card for a one-time delivery fee. You can either top up your account in dollars and switch to EUR, RON, HUF, NOK, DKK, SEK or any of the other supported European currencies before you travel, or you can let the card automatically switch currencies as required.
All currency conversion uses the mid-market exchange rate, with fees from as low as 0.43%. You can also get EUR, GBP and HUF bank account details, as well as local account details for up to 6 other currencies, to receive payments to your Wise account.
Here are some of the advantages and disadvantages of using the Wise travel money debit card, to help you decide if it's suitable for you.
|Pros of using the Wise card in Europe
|Cons of using the Wise card in Europe
✅ Hold and exchange 40+ currencies including AUD and a selection of other world currencies
✅ No fee to spend any currency you hold, low conversion fees from 0.43%
✅ Mid market exchange rate on all currency conversion
✅ Some fee free ATM withdrawals every month
✅ No ongoing fees and no interest to pay
❌ 13.7 MYR delivery fee
❌ No option to earn points or rewards
What is a travel money card?
A travel money card can be used for payments online and in stores, and for cash withdrawals, just like your regular bank card can be. However, with a travel money card you’ll find the features and fees have been optimised for international use. That might mean you get a better exchange rate compared to using your normal card overseas, or that you run into fewer fees. Some travel cards also have options to earn cashback and rewards when you use your card internationally.
6 travel money cards for Europe compared
We’ll look at each of these card options in a little more detail in just a moment, but let’s start with an overview of how 6 top travel money cards for Europe line up side by side:
|Fees and exchange rates
|Wise debit card
|BigPay debit card
|MAE by Maybank2u (prepaid debit)
|AEON Member Plus Card (debit)
|Standard Chartered Worldmiles Mastercard (credit)
|Standard Chartered Worldmiles Mastercard (credit)
What are different types of travel cards?
Broadly speaking, Malaysian customers are able to select a travel money card from either a regular bank or a specialist provider, which may be a travel debit card, travel prepaid card or a travel credit card. We’ll walk through what each travel money card type is, and pick out a couple of good card options, so you can compare and choose.
1. Travel debit cards
2. Travel prepaid cards
3. Travel credit cards
1. Travel Debit Cards for Europe
Travel debit cards are usually offered by specialist providers, with linked digital accounts you can use to hold and convert a currency balance. While different cards have their own features, travel debit cards can usually be topped up easily online and through an app, with the option to see your balance and get transaction notifications through your phone too. That makes it easier to keep on top of your money, no matter where in the world you are.
Travel debit card Option 1 Wise
Wise is our best value travel money debit card for Europe.
There’s no fee to open a Wise account, and just a small delivery fee for your Wise card, with no minimum balance and no monthly charge. You just pay low Wise fees from 0.43% when you convert currencies, and transparent ATM fees when you exhaust the monthly free transactions available with your account.
No fee to open a Wise account, no minimum balance requirement
13.7 MYR one time fee to get your Wise card
2 withdrawals, to 1,000 MYR value per month for free, then 5 MYR + 1.75%
Hold EUR and 40+ other currencies, convert between them with the mid-market rate
Get local account details to receive EUR and 8 other currencies for free
Read our full Wise card review to learn more.
Travel debit card Option 2: BigPay
BigPay accounts have linked international cards, and come with handy budgeting features and some international transfer options. You’ll only be able to top up and hold MYR in your BigPay account, but spending overseas uses a fair exchange rate and a relatively low conversion charge of 1% or less.
No fee to open a Standard BigPay account
Up to 1% currency conversion fee when spending overseas
6 MYR local ATM fee, 10 MYR international ATM fee
Send payments locally, and internationally to select countries
Use the BigPay card in person, online and with mobile wallets
Earn AirAsia points as you spend
Pros and cons of using debit travel cards in Europe
|Pros of using debit travel cards in Europe
|Cons of using debit travel cards in Europe
✅ No possibility to run up interest costs or late payment fees
✅ Some cards let you hold and exchange currencies in advance or at the time of spending
✅ Accounts can be topped up, viewed and managed digitally
✅ Safe to use, as accounts aren’t linked to your main bank account
✅ Travel debit cards are issued on popular global payment networks
❌ Transaction and currency conversion fees may apply
❌ Cash back and rewards may not be available
How to choose the best travel debit card for Europe?
The best travel debit card for Europe really depends on your personal preferences and how you like to manage your money. If you’ll be travelling widely it makes sense to look for an account with mid-market currency exchange and a large selection of supported European currencies as well as EUR, like Wise. Other providers like BigPay can also be a good pick, particularly if you would like extra perks like the option to earn AirAsia points on spending.
Is there a spending limit with a travel debit card in Europe?
Different providers set their own limits for card use. Limits may apply daily, weekly or monthly, and can apply to different types of transactions. You might find you have a limit to the amount of ATM withdrawals you can make per day, for example, or the value of contactless payments - these limits are set for security and can sometimes be managed and changed in the provider’s app.
2. Prepaid Travel Cards for Europe
With a prepaid travel card you’ll need to order a card and add funds, to pay merchants and make cash withdrawals. While prepaid travel cards are usually issued on large global networks - and can therefore be used pretty widely - not all cards are accepted globally, so you’ll need to check network coverage in your destination country.
Prepaid travel card option 1: MAE by Maybank2U
MAE is Maybank’s mobile wallet and comes with a linked debit card you can top up from your Maybank account manually or automatically. While this card doesn’t allow you to hold foreign currencies, you may be able to access preferential exchange rates when you spend your MYR balance abroad, which makes it a good choice when you’re away from home.
Get a card for free by ordering online - 8 MYR/year annual fee applies
Top up manually or automatically in MYR
Preferential exchange rates when spending overseas
Access many of Maybank’s services online and through your MAE app
Send and receive payments, spend with your card and scan QR codes to pay in store
Budgeting and saving features available
No interest to pay
Prepaid travel card option 2: AEON Member Plus Card
The AEON Member Plus Card is a prepaid debit card you can pick up in person at an AEON outlet or store, or order online. You can earn rewards on your spending in AEON outlets, plus when you’re overseas and spend with the card. AEON Member Plus Cards are on the Visa network and can be used wherever Visa is accepted.
12 MYR annual card fee
Visa rate + 1% fee when spending overseas
ATM withdrawal fees of 10 MYR when overseas
Earn rewards on local and overseas spending
Extra perks like free parking at AEON malls
Pros and cons of using prepaid travel cards in Europe
|Pros of using prepaid travel cards in Europe
|Cons of using prepaid travel cards in Europe
✅ Manage your account online or with an app, to add more money or pay off your bill
✅ Accounts with no monthly fees are available
✅ Foreign transaction fees can be relatively low
✅ ATM withdrawals supported globally
✅ Some accounts have extras like options to earn reward points
❌ You may pay a fee to get the card, or an annual fee to maintain it
❌ Transaction fees apply to most accounts
How to choose the best travel prepaid card for Europe?
There’s no single best travel prepaid card for Europe - it’ll come down to your personal preference. If you’re looking for a prepaid debit card you can use in Europe with a major Malaysian bank, try the MAE card option. However, if you’d rather get rewards for overseas spending, the AEON card can be a strong pick thanks to the local and international reward options available.
Is there a spending limit with a prepaid card in Europe?
Different prepaid travel cards set their own limits for spending and withdrawals, which can vary between currencies. You’ll need to check your card’s terms and conditions carefully to make sure you pick a provider which suits your needs.
3. Travel Credit Cards for Europe
Travel credit cards typically offer some extra international features compared to regular credit cards, such as low or no foreign transaction fees or extra option to earn rewards when you’re abroad. In general, travel credit cards are safe and convenient but can be more expensive compared to using a debit card option. Before you select the right card for you it’s important to check the fees, rates, eligibility rules and interest rates which apply, so you can make sure it’s a good fit for you.
Travel credit card option 1: Standard Chartered Worldmiles Mastercard
The Standard Chartered Worldmiles Mastercard has a relatively low 1% foreign transaction fees when you spend overseas, plus a cash advance fee when you use an ATM, at 25 MYR or 5% whichever is higher. You’ll need to repay your bill in full every month to avoid fees and interest, but can earn travel rewards and miles on your day to day spending.
600 MYR annual fee, 1% foreign transaction fee
Earn travel rewards on spending
Get extras like free lounge access
Variable interest rates which apply if you don’t pay off your bill in full
Travel credit card option 2: Citi PremierMiles
The Citi PremierMiles card has a variable interest rate of 15% - 18% with a foreign transaction fee of 2.4% to pay when you’re shopping overseas. There’s also a 600 MYR annual card charge to get your card in the first place, but in exchange, there are benefits and rewards available for cardholders.
Variable interest rates and a 600 MYR annual fee
Earn rewards, and get discounts when spending with partner retailers
2.4% foreign transaction fee
Network exchange rates apply
Pros and cons of using credit cards in Europe
|Pros of using credit cards in Europe
|Cons of using credit cards in Europe
✅ Spread the cost of your travel over several months
✅ Check eligibility for a card online with no impact on your credit score
✅ You may pay relatively low foreign transaction fees
✅ Network exchange rates usually apply, which are usually pretty fair
❌ Interest charged if you don’t repay in full every month
❌ Eligibility rules apply
How to choose the best travel credit card for Europe?
The best travel credit card for Europe will depend on your personal preferences. If you’re interested in earning rewards and cash back on your overseas spending, a travel rewards card like the Citi PremierMiles card could be a good bet as it offers rewards on all spending. Whichever card you’re considering you’ll want to weigh up the potential fees you’ll need to pay against the rewards you can earn to make sure it’s worthwhile.
Conclusion: Which travel money card is best for Europe?
If you’ve planned travel to Europe you might want to pick a travel money card for EUR spending, or to spend in any of the other currencies used in European countries, like Polish zloty or Bulgarian lev. Travel money cards have different features, and can be picked up via regular banks or online specialists.
You could opt for a low cost travel debit card which comes with a linked account to hold a selection of currencies - like the Wise account. Or you might prefer a prepaid travel money card like the MAE by Maybank2u debit card which can be linked to a fee free account. Finally, another option is to get a travel credit card either to earn cashback and rewards, or to avoid foreign transaction fees.
Use this guide to start your research and pick the right option for your specific needs.
FAQ - Best travel cards for Europe
There’s no single best card to use in Europe. Which is right for you will depend on your preferences and where exactly you’re headed to. While many countries in Europe use euros, there are also quite a lot of other currencies - so having a multi-currency account from a provider like Wise can be a good bet as you’ll be able to hold and exchange EUR alongside dozens of other major currencies for convenience - or check out BigPay as another travel card specialist with low currency conversion fees.
Spending with your card is convenient when travelling in Europe, but you’ll be best off having several different payment methods just in case your first choice isn’t supported. For example, you could choose 2 different debit or credit cards, issued on different networks, and you could also get euros in advance so you have some cash on you for those times when cards aren’t available.
You can usually make cash withdrawals with a credit card in Europe at any ATM that supports your card network. You’ll often find that a fee applies, and you may start to accumulate interest on the withdrawn amount immediately. Travel money debit cards from providers like Wise and BigPay can be a lower cost option for cash withdrawals in EUR.
You can use your Malaysian card anywhere you see the card network’s logo displayed. Visa and Mastercard networks are very well supported globally, including in Europe, making these good options to look out for when you pick your travel debit card for Europe.
You can use your debit card anywhere you see the card network’s logo displayed. Visa and Mastercard networks are very well supported globally, including in Europe, making these good options to look out for when you pick your travel debit card for Europe.
Prepaid cards from reputable providers are safe to use at home and abroad. They aren’t linked to your main bank account which can offer extra peace of mind, and may also make it easier to manage your travel budget. However, you’ll need to check the card features and fees carefully to make sure you're getting the best match for your needs.
The fees applied for travel cards can vary widely depending on the provider and the card type. With debit cards you may find ATM fees, and costs for converting currencies, although specialist providers like Wise and BigPay have linked accounts which can bring down the costs of currency conversion. Credit card fees include cash advance charges, foreign transaction fees and interest.