The 6 Best Travel Money Cards for the US
Planning a trip of a lifetime to the US? You may find you can do more while you’re there if you pick up a travel money card to spend in US dollars cheaply and conveniently.
In Malaysia you can pick from a good range of travel debit cards, prepaid travel cards and travel credit cards which all have unique features and fees to suit different customer needs.
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 – good value debit card for the US
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 US dollars, as well as a diverse range of other 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 ringgit and switch to US dollars before you travel, or you can let the card automatically switch currencies as required. As soon as you order your physical Wise card, you can also create a Wise virtual card, which means there’s no need to wait to spend - just add your virtual card to a wallet like Apple Pay and you’re good to go.
Wise uses the mid-market exchange rate for currency conversion, with fees from as low as 0.43%. You can also get MYR and USD bank account details, as well as local account details for up to 8 other currencies, to receive convenient 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 the US
|Cons of using the Wise card in the US
✅Hold and exchange 40+ currencies including USD
✅No fee to spend any currency you hold, low conversion fees from 0.43%
✅Mid market exchange rate on all currency conversion
✅Physical and virtual cards available
✅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
6 travel money cards for the US 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 the US line up side by side:
|Card delivery fee
|Fees for spending
|US ATM fee
|13.7 MYR order fee
|Free to spend any currency you hold, currency conversion from 0.43%
|Some free withdrawals every month based, low fees after that
|20 MYR order fee
|1% foreign transaction fee
|10 MYR card order fee; 10 MYR annual fee; 20 MYR deposit which is refunded when you close the card
Free to spend currencies you hold
1.75% fee to spend an unsupported currency
|Up to 10 MYR, depending on the ATM you pick
|25 MYR joining fee
|1% foreign transaction fee
|Up to 10 MYR, depending on the ATM you pick
|1% foreign transaction fee
|15% - 18% depending on usage
|Cash advance fee of 5%, minimum 15 MYR fee + 18% interest charge
|Not applicable (annual fee of 550 MYR applies after Year 1)
|2.25% foreign transaction fee
|15% - 18% depending on usage
|Cash advance fee of 5%, minimum 18 MYR fee + 18% interest charge
We’ll dive into more detail about the features of these popular travel money cards in just a moment. What’s useful to note is that each card has been designed with specific customer needs in mind. Usually that means that travel debit cards are fairly cheap to use, while travel credit cards may have fees - but also often come with perks like cashback or rewards.
Travel debit cards are also handy if you’re on a fixed budget. Just top up your account with the amount you need - and there’s no credit line, so you can’t overspend by accident. Travel credit cards on the other hand let you spend to your card limit, and then repay the amount over a few months if you’d prefer to. Which is best for you will come down to how you like to manage your money - we’ll dive into a few more details about each card type, next.
What is a travel money card?
A travel money card looks and world pretty much like any other payment card. You’ll be able to make payments with the card, or by linking the card to a mobile wallet like Apple Pay, shop online, and make cash withdrawals.
Travel money cards have been optimised for people heading abroad, or spending in foreign currencies online. That can mean your card gets you a better exchange rate or no foreign transaction fees for example. Or, you might find you can earn cashback and rewards when you spend overseas. As each card is designed with its own specific features, you’ll be able to weigh up a few to pick the one that suits you best. This guide covers all you need to know.
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 the US
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
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 USD and 40+ other currencies, convert between them with the mid-market rate
Physical and virtual cards available
Get local account details to receive MYR, USD and 8 other currencies conveniently
Read our full Wise card review to learn more.
Travel debit card Option 2: BigPay
BigPay is a popular e-wallet and card available to residents of Malaysia. You can get your card for a one time fee, and also access a virtual card for online and mobile payments. You won’t be able to hold foreign currencies in your account, but your MYR balance is switched to the currency you need when you’re abroad using the network exchange rate and a low foreign transaction fee of around 1%.
Popular e-wallet with lots of other features like bill payment and remittance
No annual fee and no credit check
Virtual card available as well as physical card
Relatively low foreign transaction fee of up to 1% depending on payment type
Earn AirAsia points when you spend
Pros and cons of using debit travel cards in the US
|Pros of using debit travel cards in the US
|Cons of using debit travel cards in the US
✅ No possibility to run up interest costs or late payment fees
✅ 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 Malaysian 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 much does a travel debit card cost
Travel debit cards often have a fee for delivery or to upgrade from a virtual card to a physical card. As this is usually a one time charge a travel debit card can still present very good value if you travel frequently or use your card to shop online on an ongoing basis.
How to choose the best travel debit card for the US?
There’s no single best travel debit card for the US - it really all depends on your personal preferences and how you expect to transact. If you travel a lot you may prefer to get an account with mid-market currency exchange and a large selection of supported currencies as well as USD and MYR, like Wise. On the other hand, BigPay is a popular local e-wallet and card, which has a fairly low 1% foreign transaction fee and other perks like help with budgeting and analysing your spending.
Is there a spending limit with a travel debit card in the US?
Most travel debit cards have limits for card use, which are set to make the card more secure. Limits may apply on the value of cash withdrawals or contactless payments for example, but in many cases you can view and change the default limits in the provider’s app.
ATM Withdrawals with the debit card
The costs of making ATM withdrawals does vary a lot based on the card you pick. Some - like Bigpay - have a flat fee, while others like Wise have a set limit for fee free withdrawals with low fees based on the withdrawal amount after that.
2. Prepaid Travel Cards for the US
With a prepaid travel card you’ll need to order a card and add funds, to pay merchants and make cash withdrawals. Prepaid travel cards are usually issued on large global networks - and can therefore be used pretty widely. Terms, conditions, features and fees do vary quite a bit, so compare a few before you pick
Prepaid travel card option 1: Enrich Money
The Enrich Money is issued by Malaysian Airlines in conjunction with Merchantrade, and allows you to top up conveniently in advance of spending globally. There are free top up options, and some which come with a fee - and once you have a balance in ringgit you can exchange it to the currency you need, from the selection of 20 supported currencies. You’ll earn rewards as you spend which you can convert to balance to spend with no foreign transaction fee to spend in supported currencies when you’re abroad.
Hold and spend 20 popular global and regional currencies
Visa network for easy spending and withdrawals
Manage your card in an app for ease and earn rewards you can convert to cash back
1.75% fee to spend an unsupported currency
Annual and card issuance fees apply, as well as a refundable deposit
Prepaid travel card option 2: Aeon Prepaid Mastercard
The Aeon Prepaid Mastercard can be used at home and abroad anywhere you see the Mastercard logo. You can top up in a variety of ways, including using cash at an Aeon location - fees may apply depending on the method you use to load funds. Once you have money on your card, you can also get extra benefits when you shop with Aeon partner merchants, and free ATM withdrawals at Aeon ATMs.
No annual fee and no minimum income requirement
Spend anywhere Mastercard is accepted
Relatively low 1% foreign transaction fee
Get discounts and rewards with partner merchants
Safe and convenient to use
Pros and cons of using prepaid travel cards in the US
|Pros of using prepaid travel cards in the US
|Cons of using prepaid travel cards in the US
✅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 may be waived
✅ATM withdrawals supported globally
✅Some accounts have extras like options to earn reward points
❌Prepaid travel cards may not be accepted in certain scenarios, like when hiring a car
❌Transaction fees apply to most accounts
How much does a prepaid card cost?
Prepaid travel card costs do vary based on the provider you pick. You’ll need to Double check the terms of the card you prefer so you know what to expect. Bear in mind also that there can be a few different fees to consider - including some upfront one off costs, and some which are recurring. The Enrich card for example, has an issuance fee, an annual fee and a returnable deposit that you’ll need to pay upfront.
How to choose the best travel prepaid card for the US?
The best travel prepaid card for the US for you will depend entirely on your personal preference and what’s important to you. Enrich Money may be the natural choice if you use Malaysian Airlines a lot and want to hold a multi-currency balance for spending while earning rewards. The Aeon prepaid card is also a good bet with great global acceptance and no fees to make local ATM withdrawals when you’re in an Aeon location.
Prepaid travel card spending limit
To spend with a prepaid travel card you’ll first need to add money. Once you have a balance you can spend up to the amount loaded on the card - although there can be card limits for spending and withdrawals, which are set for security reasons. You’ll need to check your card’s terms and conditions carefully to make sure you pick a provider which suits your needs.
ATM withdrawals with prepaid cards
Prepaid travel cards may charge a fee when you make an out of network or international ATM withdrawal. It’s common to find there are some options for fee free local withdrawals in Malaysia, but costs of about 10 MYR are often added when you’re overseas.
3. Travel Credit Cards for the US
Travel credit cards are similar to any other credit card, but with more international features, such as low or no foreign transaction fees or extra options 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: RHB Visa Signature
The RHB Signature credit card lets you earn cash back on spending, with a tiered system which rewards more the more you spend. Local spending can attract up to 6% cash back, while you’ll also get up to 2% cash back when you’re spending in the US. There’s no annual fee to pay with this card, and a relatively low 1% foreign transaction fee, which may make it an attractive pick for your next trip overseas.
Up to 2% cash back on foreign currency spending
80,000 MYR minimum annual income required
Free lounge access 5x per year, and discounts on additional lounge visits
Complimentary travel insurance
Variable interest rates which apply if you don’t pay off your bill in full
Travel credit card option 2: Maybank Visa Signature
The Maybank Visa Signature card is a premium card which has an annual fee of 550 MYR, but which offers 5x rewards on overseas spending, and lots of perks to make your trips abroad that bit easier. You’ll get access to fast track immigration clearance at airports, and can use the Visa concierge service for extra help when you need it - just bear in mind that the foreign transaction fee can be up to 2.25% which is on the higher side.
Annual fee waived in year one, then 550 MYR annually
5x Treats points for overseas spending, plus rewards when you spend at home
70,000 MYR to 100,000 MYR minimum income required
Airport speed pass to give you fast track immigration clearance in hundreds of airports
Travel insurance coverage and concierge services available
Pros and cons of using credit cards in the US
|Pros of using credit cards in the US
|Cons of using credit cards in the US
✅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 no foreign transaction fee
✅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 much does a travel credit card cost
The fees for your travel credit card can include several different charges - an annual fee, interest costs and penalties if you don’t pay on time for example. You can find some travel credit cards with no annual fee, but others which have more premium benefits are likely to have high fees so read the terms and conditions carefully before you choose.
How to choose the best travel credit card for the US?
Doing some research is the only way to pick the best travel credit card for the US for your own specific needs and preferences. Before you choose, make sure you weigh up the potential fees you’ll need to pay against the benefits and rewards you can earn to make sure it’s worthwhile, and bear in mind that you’ll run into interest charges if you don’t clear down your bill every month, too.
Travel credit card spending limit
Your travel credit card spending limit will vary depending on the issuer’s policy. You’ll be notified of the details for your card when your application is approved.
ATM withdrawals with travel credit cards
ATM withdrawals made with a travel credit card will usually mean paying a cash advance fee of around 5% of the withdrawal value, and immediate interest. Interest is likely to be set at the top end of the range that applies to your card - often about 18%.
How much money do I need in the US?
The costs of your trip to the US can vary a lot depending on your plan and exactly where you’re going. To set your budget you’ll need to do some research into the specific costs in the area you’re visiting, including accommodation, food and transport. Here are a few tips on pricing:
|Getting to the US
|Very varied depending on where you’re heading in the US. At the time of writing, the cheapest flights from KL start from about 3,000 MYR return
|Widely varied - from hostels to high end. Shop around to find the best options based on your budget
|Lunch in a restaurant
|3 course meal for 2 in a mid-range restaurant around 350 MYR
|One way public transport ticket costs on average around 12 MYR, ride hailing services like Uber are also available in many areas, as well as taxis
Compare the costs of your trip based on your specific plans, with Numbeo.com.
Conclusion: Which travel money card is best for the US?
If you’ve planned travel to the US you might want to get a travel money card for simple USD spending. Travel money cards have different features, and can be picked up via 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 - Wise account. Or you might prefer a prepaid travel money card like the Aeon Prepaid Mastercard which has some nice perks if you’re frequently in Aeon locations. 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.
FAQs - Best travel cards for the US 2024
There’s no single best card to use in the US. Which is right for you will depend on your preferences and spending patterns. One good option is to get a multi-currency account from a provider like Wise which you can use in the US and on future trips, too, as you’ll be able to hold, spend and exchange USD and MYR alongside dozens of other major currencies.
Spending with your card is convenient when travelling in the US, 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 some dollars in advance so you have some cash on you for those odd times when cards aren’t available.
You can usually make cash withdrawals with a credit card in the US 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 can be a lower cost option for cash withdrawals in USD.
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 the US, making these good options to look out for when you pick your travel debit card for the US.
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.