Wise Card vs Travelex Card: A Full Comparison on Features and Fees 2024

Travel money cards are a convenient – and very often, cheap – way to spend and make withdrawals when you’re away from home. But what’s best between the Wise card and the Travelex card?

The Wise card comes with a linked account that can hold 40+ currencies, spend in 150+ countries, send money to 160+ countries, and receive money with local bank details for up to 9 currencies. The Travelex card supports 9 currencies, has no overseas ATM fee, and no upfront currency conversion fee when you load a foreign currency. But which will suit you best?

This guide walks through all you need to know about the Wise card vs the Travelex card.

Key points:

Wise card Travelex card
14 NZD order fee, no ongoing costs Varied fees depending on where you get your card
Hold 40+ currencies Hold 9 currencies

 

Mid-market exchange rates with conversion fees from 0.35% Exchange rates set by Travelex and may include a fee
Accounts can also be used to send money to 160+ countries and receive payments in up to 9 currencies

 

No ATM fees overseas (domestic withdrawal fees apply)

 

Wise card vs Travelex card in New Zealand: Side by side

Before we get into details: an overview.

Wise card Travelex card
Eligibility Available for New Zealand residents, and residents of most countries globally Available for New Zealand residents
Cost to get a card 14 NZD There’s no fee if you add a foreign currency. If you add NZD you pay 10 NZD or 1%, whichever is greater
Supported currencies 40+ currencies supported 9 currencies supported
Exchange rate Mid-market exchange rate Exchange rate set by Travelex, likely to include a markup
Cost to spend a currency you hold No fee No fee
Cost to spend a currency you don’t hold From 0.35% 4%
ATM fees 2 withdrawals, to a value of 350 NZD/month free – after that, 1.5 NZD + 1.75% No fee for overseas withdrawals – domestic withdrawals cost 2.95%
Virtual card Available Not available
Dormancy fee No fee 4 NZD/month
Account close fee No fee 10 NZD

This overview gives a pretty good indication of the main similarities and differences between the Wise card and the Travelex card. Which is best for you depends on how you prefer to manage your money.

Wise has a broader range of currencies, and uses the mid-market rate for currency conversion. Wise is transparent about the fees charged – you’ll see the cost of converting your money in the app, split out from the exchange rate. Conversion costs from 0.35%. This makes it easier to see exactly what spending with your card is costing you.

You can pick up a Travelex card in your local branch or order online. There’s no fee to get your card if you add a foreign currency, but if you add NZD costs apply. Spending a currency you don’t hold attracts a 4% conversion fee. It’s also important to note that although Travelex doesn’t charge specific fees to convert currency on your card when loading or exchanging in your account, they’re a business and need to make money. This is likely to mean that there are costs involved – they’re just added to the exchange rate rather than being split out as a separate fee.

Pros and cons

Wise card pros Travelex card pros
  • 40+ currencies supported
  • Mid-market currency exchange with low fees
  • Some free ATM withdrawals monthly
  • Accounts also offer ways to send and receive international payments conveniently
  • Get a card instantly in a branch or order online
  • No ATM fee overseas
  • No separate fee to convert currency when loading
  • Mastercard exclusive benefits on offer
Wise card cons Travelex card cons
  • 14 NZD card order fee
  • Variable currency conversion costs depending on the currency in question
  • 4% foreign transaction fee for currencies you don’t hold
  • Account dormancy and closure fees

Wise card vs Travelex card: The Verdict

The Wise card and the Travelex card have similar features, but slightly different approaches – which might mean different customers prefer one or the other.

The Wise card comes with an account which can support 40+ currencies, and offers mid-market exchange rate conversion with low and transparent fees. There are some free ATM withdrawals offered monthly, with a small charge after that. Plus you’ll get other handy features to send and receive global payments. This may make it a winner for customers looking for mid-market exchange rates and transparent fees when exchanging and spending overseas.

The Travelex card can be ordered online, and supports 9 currencies, with no local ATM fees. There’s no upfront fee for currency conversion when you load or exchange in the app – but there’s likely to be a charge in the exchange rate used, which makes it difficult to work out exactly what you’re paying to use the card in the end. There’s also a 4% fee to spend a currency you don’t have in your account. This card can be handy for customers travelling to somewhere which uses one of the 9 supported currencies,  looking to pick up a card instantly in a branch.

How do they work?

Order a Wise card online or in the Wise app in a few clicks, for delivery to your home address. There’s a one time 14 NZD fee, and no ongoing charge to pay. Your card is linked to a multi-currency Wise account which can hold, send, spend and exchange 40+ currencies.

Top up in NZD or the currency of your choice, and then you can either convert to the currency you need in advance or let the card switch at the point of payment with no extra fee to pay. Currency exchange uses the mid-market rate with low fees from 0.35%.

Travelex cards have no ongoing charges as long as you use the card regularly. If not, dormancy fees apply. You can order your card online or get one instantly in a branch. Cards support 9 major currencies, and while there’s no stated currency conversion fee to convert in your account or when loading, there are likely to be costs rolled into the rate offered in the form of a markup. There’s a 4% charge to spend a currency you don’t have in your account.

Wise card limits

You’ll find there are some limits for how you can use your Wise card, which are in place for security. When you get your card, the limits are set to a default amount per month. However, you can also set yourself daily limits within the Wise app if you’d prefer to control your cash flow differently.

Here are the Wise card limits for New Zealand:

Minimum load: No minimum

Maximum load: No maximum

Maximum balance: No maximum

Maximum spend amount: 52,500 NZD a month

Maximum ATM withdrawal amount: 7,000 NZD a month

Travelex card limits

The Travelex card limits work in a slightly different way to the limits of a Wise card – here’s a rundown:

Minimum load: 250 NZD for first load when buying online, 100 NZD after that

Maximum online and in-app load: 10,050 NZD per day, to 20,000 NZD in a 21 day period

Maximum balance: 75,000 NZD

Maximum ATM withdrawal amount: 3,000 NZD a day

Maximum spend amount: 15,000 NZD a day

What type of cards are they?

The Wise card can be issued on either the Visa or Mastercard networks. It’s a debit card so you’ll need to add money before you can spend – but there’s no interest to pay, and no credit check to get a card.

The Travelex card is a Mastercard debit card, and is globally accepted.

Are Wise and Travelex cards available in New Zealand?

Yes. You can order the Wise card using a proof of address and ID from New Zealand. It’s also available in most other countries globally. The Travelex card is available for New Zealand residents.

Wise vs Travelex card: Fees

Here’s an overview of the key fees you’ll pay with both Wise and Travelex:

Wise card Travelex card
Cost to get a card 14 NZD There’s no fee if you add a foreign currency. If you add NZD you pay 10 NZD or 1%, whichever is greater
Currency conversion fees From 0.35% Set by Travelex, variable
Cost to spend a currency you hold No fee No fee
Cost to spend a currency you don’t hold From 0.35% 4%
ATM fees 2 withdrawals, to a value of 350 NZD/month free – after that, 1.5 NZD + 1.75% No fee overseas

 

2.95% local withdrawal fee

Dormancy fee No fee 4 NZD/month
Account close fee No fee 10 NZD

*Correct at time of writing – 16th May 2024

Wise has a focus on transparency when it comes to fees – so the costs you’ll pay are split out so you can see and compare them. Travelex has a few costs which are likely to creep in but which are harder to see – particularly around currency conversion. There’s no conversion fee stated when you top up or convert currencies in the Travelex app, but there are likely to be charges in the exchange rate – plus there’s a dormancy fee which may apply if you don’t use your card regularly.

Which card is cheaper?

So, given they have somewhat different pricing schemes, which is cheaper: Wise or Travelex?

Wise works in a very distinct way when it comes to fees – all the costs you pay are shown as transparently as possible, so you can compare them. There’s a one time fee for the Wise card, of 14 NZD. You can add money for free using some payment methods – the costs will depend on how you choose to pay. Once you have a balance, your currency is converted with the mid-market exchange rate and conversion fees from 0.35%. This means it’s easy to see what you’re spending. Plus Wise accounts also offer extras like ways to be paid in foreign currencies and easy options to send money to 160+ countries.

The Travelex card has no separate currency conversion cost when topping up or converting in the account and no overseas ATM fee. It’s also free to get your card in the first place as long as you’re topping up in a foreign currency. However, this doesn’t mean it’s free to use. There’s a 4% fee to spend a currency you don’t hold in your account, charges are likely to be added to the exchange rate when you convert currencies, and there are account dormancy and closure fees as well. Domestic purchases and withdrawals also cost 2.95%.

Make sure you compare the fees – and all the available exchange rates – carefully before you choose which card is best for you, as it’s not always easy to spot all the costs which will apply.

Are Wise and Travelex cards safe to use?

Yes. Both are safe to use with normal precautions.

Wise is a globally regulated business, overseen by the DIA in New Zealand. The Wise card comes with a handy app you can use to manage your money, check your balance, receive transaction notifications, and freeze or cancel your card if you have to. You’ll also get a Wise virtual card you can use for safer online shopping.

Travelex is a large global specialist in currency conversion and travel money – it also has the advantage of a branch network so you can always get face to face advice if you need it.

Ease of use

  • Creating an account: Register with Wise online or in the Wise app. There’s no need to create an account with Travelex – you can just order online or collect a card in a branch
  • Ordering a card: Order a Wise card online or in the Wise app. You can order the Travelex card online or in your local branch. 
  • Where can be used: Both cards can be used globally 
  • Replacement: Your Wise card will be replaced for free when it expires – you’ll be reminded of the expiry date so you can check your shipping address. The Travelex card is free to order online – just submit a request for a new one when your old one expires 
  • Visa or Mastercard: The Wise travel card is issued on either the Visa or Mastercard networks. The Travelex card is a Mastercard debit card. 
  • Limits: Wise cards can hold an unlimited balance, with monthly limits on spending and ATM withdrawals which you can adjust in the Wise app.The Travelex card has limits on the amount you can load and hold, including annual limits, as well as daily ATM and spending limits. 

Can I use the Wise and Travelex cards abroad?

Yes. Both cards are optimised for international use. Use your card wherever the network is accepted. It’s free to spend any currency you hold in either account – Wise supports 40+ currencies, and Travelex has 9.

Supported currencies on Wise and Travelex cards

The Wise card supports 40+ currencies for holding and exchange. The Travelex card can hold 9 major currencies.

If you don’t have the currency you need in your account with Wise, the required funds in your balance will be converted automatically at the point of payment, to ensure the lowest possible fee. Conversion is from 0.35%. Travelex charges a 4% fee if you spend an unsupported currency or don’t have enough of a particular currency to cover a transaction.

Alternative cards

Not sure about Wise and Travelex? There are plenty of other travel card you can use for overseas and foreign currency spending – you may want to consider:

Revolut: Open an account with no ongoing fees, or upgrade to one with monthly charges and more features. Hold 25+ currencies, and get some no fee weekday currency conversion with all account tiers. Out of hours conversion fees apply

Cash Passport: Cash Passport cards support 10 currencies, and can be free to get if you order online. Cash Passport uses the Mastercard rate for conversion, with foreign transaction fees of 5.95%

Conclusion

Whether the Wise card or the Travelex card works for you will depend on how you’d like to use your card, and what other account features you need.

The Wise card has low, transparent fees you’ll see upfront. You can hold 40+ currencies in your account and all currency conversion uses the mid-market rate with low fees from 0.35%. Accounts also come with extras like easy ways to send money to others in 160+ countries, and to receive payments with local bank details from a selection of countries.

The Travelex card lets you hold 9 currencies and can be convenient if you’re in a hurry as you can get one instantly in store. There’s no listed fees to convert currency when you top up or exchange within your account –  but exchange rates are likely to include a markup which will push up your costs. 4% foreign transaction fees apply if you spend in a currency you don’t hold. Account dormancy and closure fees also apply.

Use this guide to compare both options and see which will suit you best.

FAQ – Wise vs Travelex cards

What is the difference between Wise and Travelex cards?

Both cards are intended for foreign currency spending when you travel or shop online. Wise cards support 40+ currencies, while Travelex has 9. Travelex is likely to use an exchange rate markup, and has a 4% charge for spending currencies you don’t hold in your account, while Wise uses the mid-market exchange rate and splits out the costs of currency conversion.

Is the Travelex card a Visa debit card?

No. The Travelex card is a Mastercard debit card.

What type of card is a Wise card?

The Wise travel card is a debit card issued on either the Visa or Mastercard networks.

 

Claire Millard
Fintech copy and content writer
Claire Millard is a content and copywriter with a specialty in international finance. Her work has featured in The Times and The Telegraph, as well as industry magazines and leading personal finance blogs.
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Ileana Ionescu
Content manager
With a background in business journalism, Ileana is an experienced content manager, creating content for Exiap that helps its audience make informed decisions about their finances.
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Last updated
May 28th, 2024