Best Debit Cards for International Travel: Fees, Rates & Features

If you’re planning your next trip overseas, or if you frequently shop online with retailers based abroad, you may be wondering if it’s worth getting an international debit card. International debit cards can cut the costs of currency conversion and foreign payments, making it cheaper and more convenient to spend overseas. 

This guide walks through why a multi-currency travel debit card can be a smart option, and some of the best cards available for US citizens and residents, including the Wise card and Revolut card. Let’s get started.

Quick summary: Best debit cards for international travel

Wise card – Linked to a multi-currency account, the Wise card lets you spend in over 150 countries and includes some fee-free ATM withdrawals. A one-time 9 USD fee is required for your first card.

Revolut card – Choose from three plans and hold and exchange over 25 currencies at the mid-market rate. You can also withdraw up to $1,200 per month or the currency equivalent fee-free, but you’ll need to pay a monthly fee to unlock all account features.

Capital One 360 Checking Account – This Mastercard offers international spending with no foreign transaction fees and uses the Mastercard exchange rate. It only operates in USD and offers an interest rate of 0.10% APY, with potential fees from non-network ATMs. 

Schwab Bank High Yield Investor Account – Offers a debit card with no foreign transaction fees and an interest rate of 0.4% APY, but it doesn’t accept foreign wire payments and you’ll have to open a linked brokerage account.

SoFi Checking Account – Comes with a linked international debit card and a competitive interest rate of 4.6% APY, but includes a small foreign transaction fee of 0.2% and potential out-of-network-fees.

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Best travel debit cards for international travel: 5 Options in the US

ProviderKey Features
Wise card
  • Hold and exchange 40+ currencies and spend in 150+ countries
  • Mid-market exchange rates and low transaction fees
  • One time 9 USD fee to get a Wise card
Revolut card
  • Hold and exchange 25+ currencies
  • Open a Standart account without monthly fees, or upgrade to a paid plan for more features
  • Currency exchange uses the mid-market exchange rate up to the limits defined in your plan
Capital One 360 Checking Account
  • Very few fees to worry about, plus a linked debit card with no foreign transaction fee
  • Get branch assistance if you need in-person help
  • Accounts can only hold USD, so you can’t maintain a foreign currency balance
Schwab Bank High Yield Investor Account
  • Most day to day services are fee free
  • No foreign transaction fee or minimum account balance
  • Accounts operate in USD only and can not receive incoming foreign wire payments
SoFi Checking 
  • Good interest earning opportunity
  • Low foreign transaction fee of 0.2% for spending in other currencies
  • Accounts can only hold USD, no option for a foreign currency balance

Go to WiseGo to Revolut

Best international debit cards for travel: A comparison

Choosing the best international debit card for you will require a bit of research. To help you get started we’ve picked out some of your favorite international debit cards for US citizens and residents – here’s what you need to know:

Wise card

Wise offers physical and virtual cards to easily spend and make purchases in over 150 countries while enjoying free cash withdrawals of up to 100 USD per month, with low fees once you’ve hit your allowance. Spend in currencies you hold in your account, without any extra fees, and when you don’t have the currency balance you need, your Wise card will use smart conversion technology to automatically convert your money from the currency that has the lowest fees possible. You can also freeze and unfreeze your card in the app for added security while you travel or shop online.

Open a multi-currency Wise Account online or in the Wise app for free, to hold and exchange 40+ currencies with the mid-market exchange rate. You’ll be able to order your linked international debit card for a low one time fee of 9 USD, to spend in 150+ countries. Wise accounts also come with local bank details for 10 currencies including major currencies like USD, EUR, and GBP so you can get paid easily from other countries.

Wise card with no foreign transaction fees for travel internationally

Pros of Wise cardCons of Wise card
✅ No ongoing card or account charges

✅ Hold and exchange 40+ currencies with the mid-market rate

✅ Get paid into your Wise account from 30+ countries with local account details

✅ Spend in over 150 countries

✅ Smart conversion technology when you don’t have a balance in the currency that you need

❌ 9 USD fee to get your first card

❌ Some transaction fees may apply

Get Wise Card
Learn more here: Wise card review

Revolut card

Use your physical or virtual Revolut debit card to make purchases when traveling the world. Revolut international debit cards allow you to spend any currency you hold with no fees, and withdraw up to 400 USD/month anywhere in the world without any fees. You can also freeze your card for extra security and get a one-use virtual card for secure online shopping at home and when making purchases on international e-commerce sites.

Revolut offers accounts for US citizens and residents which can be operated online or in the Revolut app. You can get a Standard plan or choose to upgrade to an account with monthly fees to unlock more features. All accounts can hold and exchange 25+ currencies with the mid-market rate up to the limits in the specific plan type.

Pros of Revolut cardCons of Revolut card
✅ No-fees applied to spend currencies you hold in your account

✅ Some mid-market exchange rate currency conversion for all account types

✅ Withdraw up to 1,200 USD/month with no-fees, or choose an in-network ATM to avoid charges

✅ Instantly freeze your card in the app for added security 

❌ You’ll need to pay a monthly fee to unlock all the features

❌ Out of hours and exotic currency conversion fees may apply, which push up costs

Go to Revolut

Revolut card

Learn more: Revolut card review

Capital One 360 Checking card

 Capital One’s 360 Checking account offers a linked Mastercard you can use for international spending with no extra foreign transaction fee. You’ll get the Mastercard exchange rate when you spend overseas, which is usually pretty fair, and for peace of mind, if you ever lose, misplace or have your card stolen, you can lock it from your Capital One app in just a few taps. Plus, it comes with other handy security features like identity theft protection and 0 USD liability for any unauthorized charges.

Capital One won’t charge you for ATM withdrawals, but if you use an out of network terminal, the ATM operator might have their own fees you need to pay. 

Pros of Capital One cardCons of Capital One card
✅ Very few fees to pay for day to day use

✅ No Capital One out of network ATM fee

✅ No foreign transaction fee

✅ Free to get the card

✅ 0 USD liability on unauthorized charges and instant lock feature for security 

❌ Accounts operate in USD only, no option to hold a foreign currency balance

❌ Relatively low interest – 0.10% APY at the time of writing

Schwab Bank High Yield Investor card

If you’re looking for a debit card with no foreign transaction fees that’s linked to an account which offers interest on your balance, the Schwab High Yield Investor account may suit you. Use your card to make purchases abroad and online anywhere Visa is accepted and easily withdraw cash from ATMs globally. You can also enjoy unlimited ATM fee rebates wherever your card is accepted. 

You’ll need to have or open a brokerage account at the same time as you get your card, but there’s no requirement to fund the brokerage account if you don’t want to. Accounts have few fees, but do have some limitations – such as no option to receive foreign wires to the account and card network exchange rates apply. 

Pros of Schwab cardCons of Schwab card
0.48% APY at the time of writing

✅ No foreign transaction fees

✅ No account minimum balance

✅ No ATM fees

❌ You’ll also need to open a Schwab brokerage account

❌ No foreign wire payments can be received

SoFi Checking card

The SoFi Checking account and card offer another neat way to open an online account, and get a linked international debit card that you can use in over 130 countries, like the UK, Canada, Australia and Japan. You can make purchases and withdraw cash anywhere the Mastercard is accepted, with funds being withdrawn in the currency of the country. However, there is a small fee when you spend internationally. 

Benefit from interest rates on both checking and savings accounts, including 0,50% APY on checking balances and 4.60% APY at the time of writing on savings balances. But, before you choose this account, weigh up if the interest will cover the costs of international spending to make sure it’s the best option for you.

Pros of SoFi cardCons of SoFi card
✅ Good interest earning opportunity

✅ Very few fees to pay

✅ Online account with full mobile access

✅ Spend in over 130 countries 

❌ Small foreign transaction fee of 0.2% applies

❌ Out of network fees may apply

What is an international debit card?

International debit cards work much like your regular debit card, but provide features which are particularly useful when spending in foreign currencies.

You’ll be able to use your card abroad

  • to make payments in person, often with contactless and mobile payment functions,
  • to pay online
  • to make ATM withdrawals overseas.

There are several different types of international debit cards available for customers based in the US, which we’ll look at in more detail a little later.

How do international debit cards work?

As with your regular debit card, withdrawals and payments made with your international debit card will be deducted directly from your account balance. That can make it easier to budget, and ensures you won’t accidentally run into interest or penalty fees as you may with a credit card.

You’ll be able to use your international debit card to make foreign currency purchases, often with better exchange rates and lower fees compared to using a normal card for payments.

International cards are usually quite convenient to order and activate – the entire process can often be done online or using an app.

How can I use an international debit card abroad?

You’ll be able to use your international debit card for payments and withdrawals anywhere the card’s network is accepted.

  • It’s worth knowing as a US customer that international cards are commonly offered via the Visa and Mastercard networks, as these offer great global coverage.
  • Amex and Discover aren’t as popular in some destinations, so you’ll need to check if your card will be accepted wherever you’re headed.

Different international debit cards have their own terms and conditions, which can include pretty varied fees and charges, too. You’ll need to double check over all the fees applied by the card issuer – your bank or preferred specialist provider. To help, we’ll look at some of the best options out there to kickstart your research in just a moment.

Important fees to watch out for

  • Important fees to look at include any foreign transaction fee or currency conversion cost, and any charge to make ATM withdrawals.
  • You’ll also need to look out for ATM service fees applied by the ATM operator,
  • Mmake sure to always pay in the local currency wherever you are to avoid the high fees that come with dynamic currency conversion (DCC) transactions.

DCC is where you’re asked if you want to pay in dollars instead of the local currency when you’re abroad – it sounds convenient, but actually DCC can be an expensive option.

Using your international debit card to pay in the local currency is almost always the better choice.

How to get an international debit card for travel

If you choose an international debit card from a traditional bank you’ll usually need to open an account online or by visiting a branch.

Specialist providers like Wise allow customers to register and order a card quickly via an app or desktop site. To show how it works, here’s a look at how to get a Wise international debit card for instant, low cost spending:

  1. Register for a Wise account online or in the Wise app
  2. Verify your account by uploading images of your ID documents
  3. Order your card online or in the Wise app, by paying a one off charge
  4. Your card will arrive in the post soon after

Get Wise Card

International debit card fees & exchange rates

Here’s a comparison of the key costs involved in the 5 international debit cards we’ve looked at so far.

WiseRevolut Capital OneSchwabSoFi
Account opening fee No feeNo account opening fee per say, but there is a monthly maintenance fee depending on your chosen planNo feeNo feeNo fee
Maintenance feesNo fees$0 – $16 per month depending on your chosen planNo feeNo feeNo fee
Hold and exchange40+ currencies25+ currenciesUSDUSDUSD
Card fee9 USD to get a card, no ongoing chargesNo-fees applied to get a cardFree to get a cardFree to get a cardFree to get a card
ATM feeUp to 2 withdrawals, to 100 USD/month free

1.5 USD + 2% after that

In network withdrawals are without any fees

Up to 400 USD/month out of network no-fee

2% after that

No fee from Capital One – if you use an out of network ATM, the operator may charge its own feeNo feeNo fee from SoFi – if you use an out of network ATM, the operator may charge its own fee
Foreign transaction feesNo fee to spend currencies you hold enough of in your account

Currency exchange from 0.43%

No fee to spend currencies you hold in your account

0.5% fair usage fee if you convert more than your plan allows

No feeNo fee0.2%
Exchange rateMid-market exchange rateMid-market exchange rate to plan limit

Exotic currency and out of hours exchange fees may apply

Mastercard exchange rate on the day the purchase is processedCard network exchange rate will applyCard network exchange rate will apply
Close account feeNo feeNo feeNo feeNo feeNo fee

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What are the transaction fees applied to an international travel debit card?

Using an international debit card can make it cheaper to spend in foreign currencies. However there are still likely to be some costs to pay which can vary by provider. Here are the most important ones to watch out for.

Foreign transaction fees

International debit cards may charge a foreign transaction fee or apply a fee for currency conversion. This is usually calculated as a percentage of the cost of the transaction. With standard bank debit cards, the foreign transaction fee you pay can often be around 3% of the total cost.

International debit cards can be cheaper with no foreign transaction fees – let’s look at the examples we’ve mentioned in this article:

Wise: No foreign transaction fees for spending currencies held enough balance of in the account, but currency exchange fees may apply. (details in the section below)

Revolut: No foreign transaction fees for spending currencies held enough balance of in the account, subject to a fair usage limit. (details in the section below)

Capital One: No foreign transaction fees are charged on international purchases.

Schwab: No foreign transaction fees are applied to international transactions.

SoFi: A small foreign transaction fee of 0.2% is applied to international purchases.

Currency conversion fees

Currency conversion fees are charged when you use an international debit card to make transactions in a currency that’s different from USD (your currency at home). These fees compensate for the cost of converting USD into your chosen foreign currency and are typically a small percentage of the transaction amount. 

Wise: Charges currency conversion fees starting from 0.43%, which can vary depending on the currency being converted.

Revolut: No fee for currency exchanges during foreign exchange market hours. Outside these hours, a 1.0% fee is applied. Standard plan users have a monthly limit of $1,000 for exchanges at this rate, after which a 0.5% fair usage fee is charged on additional amounts.

Capital One: No currency conversion fee is applied for international transactions.

Schwab: There are no currency conversion fees for Schwab debit cardholders.

SoFi: A 0.2% foreign conversion fee is applied to transactions, which is included in the transaction amount. Additionally, a 0.9% foreign convenience fee is charged but is covered by SoFi.

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ATM withdrawal fees

Most international debit cards will have an ATM withdrawal fee, although this may be waived if you use specific ATMs. You may also find your card allows you to make withdrawals to a fixed limit for free, before applying a charge per transaction.

The operator of the ATM may also charge a fee, especially if you’re using a standalone ATM in a store, bar or shopping center. Learn more about How to avoid international ATM fees.

Wise: Offers up to 2 free ATM withdrawals or up to 100 USD per month, then a fee of 1.5 USD plus 2% of the transaction amount is applied.

Revolut: Provides no-fee in-network ATM withdrawals and up to 1,200 USD per month out-of-network without any fees, with a 2% fee applied after.

Capital One: Doesn’t charge for ATM withdrawals, but out-of-network ATM operators might charge their own fees.

Schwab: Offers free ATM withdrawals globally, with unlimited ATM fee rebates.

SoFi: No fees for ATM withdrawals from SoFi, but out-of-network ATM operators may charge their own fees.

Best debit card for international ATM withdrawal

An ATM card is basically just another way to describe a debit card. While the two terms are often used interchangeably, both refer to cards that let you make everyday purchases and withdraw money from your bank account via an ATM. 

When considering the best debit card for international ATM withdrawals, it’s important to look at the fees, exchange rates, and the global ATM network coverage of each provider:

  • Wise: Ideal for travelers looking for a few free ATM withdrawals, Wise offers up to two withdrawals or 100 USD per month free of charge, followed by low fees of 1.5 USD plus 2% for every withdrawal after. They also provide competitive mid-market exchange rates for currency conversion.
  • Revolut: Allows free ATM withdrawals up to 1,200 USD per month out of network, with a 2% fee after this limit. Revolut maintains mid-market exchange rates during foreign exchange market hours, making it cost-effective for currency conversions.
  • Capital One: With no ATM fees from Capital One (though out-of-network operators may charge), and no foreign transaction fees, this card is a good option for those who prefer using a wide network of ATMs without worrying about additional charges.
  • Schwab: Offers unlimited ATM fee rebates and no foreign transaction fees – an advantage for those who frequently withdraw cash while traveling.
  • SoFi: SoFi doesn’t charge ATM fees, but out-of-network charges may apply. The card also has a small foreign transaction fee of 0.2%. This option might suit those who withdraw less frequently but want to benefit from occasional international ATM use.

Go to WiseGo to Revolut

Different types of debit cards for international travel

International cards can usually be broken into 3 categories: prepaid cards, debit cards from traditional banks and cards issued by specialist providers. Each card type has its own benefits and drawbacks – here’s a quick run through of what you need to know when you choose the right one for you.

Prepaid international debit card

Prepaid international debit cards, which are also called travel money cards, are usually issued by specialist providers. You’ll be able to order a card online or in some cases pick one up in a store, before topping up with dollars which can be converted for international spending. Prepaid cards have a range of fees which can include costs for topping up your account and converting to foreign currencies.

International card with traditional banks

If you get an international card from your regular bank you may need to specifically ask for your card to be activated for international spending, and a foreign transaction fee is likely to apply. You may also need to pay a foreign transaction fee whenever you convert from USD to the currency in the country you’re in.

International card with fintech providers

Getting a specific account and card designed for international travel can often be the cheapest and most convenient option available. You’ll be able to open and manage your account online or in an app, and depending on the account you select you may benefit from low transaction costs and currency conversion which uses the mid-market exchange rate.

Advantages of the international debit cards

Still unsure if an international debit card is right for you? Here are a few advantages to consider:

  • Depending on the account you choose you may benefit from no foreign transaction fee and mid-market rate currency conversion
  • Accounts are usually easy to set up, and can often be managed via an app for convenience and security
  • Make local cash withdrawals wherever you are in the world, to avoid high fees to get your travel spending money
  • Easy to budget and manage your international spending with no interest fees to pay

Are there any limitations on international ATM cards?

International debit cards aren’t always the best option. Before you decide to get a new card, consider these drawbacks:

  • You may not be able to use your debit card to hire a car, or pay at the pump when buying fuel
  • Debit cards may not be accepted for security deposits
  • Accounts may have holding limits which mean you can’t use them for high value spending
  • Chargebacks and refunds may take longer to get back to you

What to look at when choosing an international travel debit card

International debit cards are often linked to online or mobile accounts which let you manage your money easily on the go. There are several great providers available – and the card that suits you will depend on how you expect to use it. Here are a few things to consider when you choose:

  • How can you access and manage your money – is the app or online service intuitive and easy to use?
  • Can you hold and spend the currencies you need with your selected card?
  • Is there a monthly fee for your account – or a minimum balance you need to know about?
  • What are the currency conversion fees and how easy is the process?
  • What exchange rate is used when you convert currencies?
  • Is there a cost for making ATM withdrawals with your card – at home or abroad?
  • How can you get customer support, and what languages is help available in?

One of the most important things to look at when selecting an international travel debit card will be the costs of currency exchange. The full fee you pay for converting currencies can be spread across an upfront conversion fee and a markup added to the exchange rate. If markups are used on the exchange rate that can mean you’re paying more than you think for your foreign spending – make sure you know the full details for your chosen account before you sign up.

Key takeaways: Best debit card to use overseas

For each of these providers, account opening, maintenance fees and features all vary, but the best card will all depend on your individual needs, including ATM usage, how often you travel and if you need more than one currency.

Wise – Multi-currency account that lets you hold and exchange over 40 currencies at the mid-market rate. Currency exchange fees start from 0.43% and there are no foreign transaction fees for spending in currencies held in your account. There is a 9 USD one-time fee for delivery when you order your first card. 

Revolut – Hold and exchange over 25 currencies at the mid-market rate within plan limits. Monthly fees range from a fee-free Standard plan to 16.99 USD/month for the Metal plan with additional account features. There are no foreign transaction fees for spending currencies you hold in the account, but there is a fair usage fee for conversions beyond your plan limit. 

Capital One – USD account with no account opening fee, no foreign transactions fees and a free card. Capital One doesn’t charge for ATM withdrawals, but out-of-network operators might, and uses the Mastercard exchange rate. 

Schwab  – USD account with free of charge ATM withdrawals and no foreign transaction fees. A brokerage account is required but there are no account opening or card fees. 

SoFi  – USD account with no fees for ATM withdrawals, although out-of-network charges may apply. There’s a small foreign transaction fee of 0.2% but there are no account opening or card fees.

Conclusion: Which debit card is best for international transactions?

Having an international debit card for your foreign currency spending can be cheap and convenient. It’s also far more secure than relying on carrying cash when you travel. There’s a pretty decent range of international debit cards available for US based customers, including cards from global banking brands and specialist providers. Use this guide to compare a few options and decide which might suit you best.

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Best ATM cards for international travel FAQs

Does my debit card work internationally?

If you already have a debit card issued by your regular bank you may be wondering if you can just use that when you travel. In most cases it’ll be possible to use your US issued card overseas – however, you may run into relatively high fees. Visa and Mastercard are the most widely accepted networks in Europe and many other major destinations, so if you have Amex or Discover you’ll need to check coverage wherever you’re headed.

It’s also worth remembering that if you get an international debit card from a traditional bank you may need to inform them of your travel plans to ensure your card can be safely used overseas.

What is the best debit card to use abroad?

International debit card fees do vary between providers and can include currency conversion or foreign transaction fees, and charges to make ATM withdrawals. You’ll often find costs are lower when you pick a specialist provider rather than a traditional bank.

Which debit cards do not charge foreign transaction fees?

Several US banks have debit cards which don’t have foreign transaction fees – particularly if you choose a digital only account. Alternatively, online specialists often have debit cards you can use overseas with no fees, and multi-currency functionality. Use this guide to pick the right one for you.

Which banks have no international ATM fees?

When you use an international ATM you may be charged by your own bank, or by the ATM operator. Some online providers and traditional banks will reimburse the out of network fees, but there are usually limits applied. Use in-network ATMs whenever possible.

How to get an international debit card?

Get an international debit card from your regular bank – or for an alternative that may be cheaper and more convenient, register with an online specialist provider and get an account and card without needing to leave home.

What’s the advantage of using an international travel card?

International debit cards usually have features which make it cheaper and more convenient to spend internationally. Get an online multi-currency account from a specialist provider and you may also be able to receive, hold and exchange dozens of currencies in the same account.

What happens if my card gets lost or stolen abroad?

You may be able to block or freeze your card through the bank or provider’s app, or by calling them directly. Depending on the situation you may also need to get a local police report. Ask your provider or bank for advice if you’re unlucky enough to lose your card overseas.

Can I transfer money abroad from a foreign currency account?

With specialist providers you’ll be able to send international payments from your multi-currency account to a broad range of countries and currencies – often with a far lower fee compared to your normal bank.

Claire Millard
Fintech 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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Seyma Mektepli
Seyma is an experienced content writer and editor-in-chief at Exiap, delivering informative articles on personal finance, and money transfers.
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Last updated
March 25th, 2024