The 5 Best Travel Cards for Europe 2023
Europe is one of the top destinations for Australians heading on holiday - with year round attractions depending on whether you’re looking for a beach break, ski trip, or simply some time to eat, drink and soak up the culture. No matter what you’re off to Europe for, you’ll need to pay for things while you’re there. This guide walks through our picks of 5 of the best travel cards available for Australians heading to Europe, with a look at their features, benefits and drawbacks.
With this card:
- Convert Aussie dollars to Euros at the mid-market exchange rate
- It's very easy to set up and order
- You can receive foreign currency into a multi-currency account linked to the card
- You can transfer money to a bank account overseas
It's not all good news though
- There is a 1.75% ATM withdrawal fee when you withdraw over $350 during a month
- It takes 7-14 days for delivery
What are different types of travel cards?
It can be tricky working out which is the best travel card to use in Europe.
The fact is, the best one for you will really depend on what you need from the card you're using. We've listed what we think are three of the best travel money cards you can use while you're in Europe.
They can be either prepaid, debit or credit cards designed specially for overseas use. You can use travel cards to make purchases online, in stores and to withdraw money at ATMs. There are 3 popular types:
Let's have a look at each one.
Travel Debit Cards
Debit Cards offer the convenience of a credit card, but work differently. They draw money directly from your bank account when you make a purchase. It's designed for everyday money transactions and means that you're not accumulating debt.
If you have spending issues, it's a better option to use your debit card whenever possible. This is because it will prevent you from falling into credit card debt. And for daily purchases, we think a debit card can help you stick to your travel budget, because you can't overdraw money from your account.
Generally, we recommend having the combination of a travel debit and travel credit card for safety, flexibility and convenience on your trip.
The Wise card offers a flexible way to pay and make withdrawals with most European currencies covered for holding and exchange. You’ll be able to order your card for a low one time fee, with no ongoing costs to worry about.
Whether you’re spending in euros, British pounds, or any of the other 40+ currencies supported, you’ll get the mid-market exchange rate when you switch from AUD, with low fees from 0.43%. Exchange your AUD to the currency or currencies you need in advance, or just let the card handle the conversion at the point of payment for extra convenience.
- No annual fee, hidden transaction fees, exchange rate markups
- No minimum balance requirements
- Allows you to make payments and withdrawals wherever you are in the world in over 40 currencies
- Local bank account details in Australia (AUD), the UK (GBP), the USA (USD), Europe (EUR) and New Zealand (NZD)
- It takes 7-14 business days to receive the card
- Can't always access local technical support depending on where you are
- Free cash withdrawals limited to under $350 every 30 days
- Only currently available in the US, UK, Europe, Australia and New Zealand
Revolut - prepaid travel card for Europe
The Revolut prepaid travel card lets you pick the account and card type that suits your personal needs and preferences. Go for a Standard plan with no monthly fee to pay, or upgrade to one of the higher tier account options with ongoing costs, which unlock extra features and benefits. Whichever card you pick you can spend in 150+ countries and get some no fee ATM withdrawals and currency conversion which uses the mid-market rate. Fair usage fees apply once you’ve used your account plan no-fee limit for a particular transaction type.
- Very easy to use app
- Free to set up
- No hidden fees or exchange rate mark-ups (except on weekends)
- You can use it to transfer money to a bank account overseas
- Additional fees for using the card on a weekend
- 2% ATM fee once you withdraw more than $350 in any 30 day period
- 3-4 business days before you receive your card
- Ongoing subscription fee for Premium and Metal cards
Prepaid Travel Cards
For prepaid cards, you're able to load the card with a set amount of money in the currencies you need. Ideally you do this before your trip, but often you can reload them as well.
Most prepaid travel cards allow for multiple currencies to be loaded onto the card. So it's important to know what currency you'll be using on your travels. Airlines also offer prepaid cards so the money you spend can earn you reward points.
With prepaid travel cards you need to be careful. They can have numerous fees and charges, which can make it more expensive than other options. But if you're organised and travelling to multiple cities a prepaid travel card is a good option.
Travelex - prepaid travel card for Europe
The Travelex travel money card can be a convenient pick if you’re in a hurry as you can walk into a Travelex store and get one in just a few minutes. Just take along a suitable ID document, to get your card and account before you travel. You’ll be able to hold and exchange 10 major currencies, which covers euros and pounds. Bear in mind that exchange rates may include a markup - and other European currencies aren’t supported for holding or exchange so while you’ll be able to spend in a selection of other currencies, you won’t be able to buy them in advance to lock in a rate and set your travel budget.
- Supports 10 major global currencies for holding and exchange
- Get your card online or in person for extra convenience
- No Travelex fee to spend or make an ATM withdrawal
- Some fee free ways to top up your card balance are available
- Exchange rates are likely to include a markup on the mid-market rate
- Fees may apply when you buy or top up your card
- Relatively low number of supported currencies
- Account closure and inactivity fees may apply
Travel Credit Cards
Credit cards have obviously been around for a long time. But now there are specialised travel credit cards. Generally, these cards give you longer to pay back what you've spent but the interest rates after this time can be quite high.
The main advantage with credit cards are the reward points you get in return for your customer loyalty when you spend. But it only works if you pay off the balance in full each month.
Credit cards are great to use for car hire, restaurants and accommodation - larger expenses that are easier for you to pay back over time. Some services only take credit cards to hold purchases so they can definitely be handy while you're travelling.
28 Degrees - travel credit card for Europe
With this card:
- There are no annual fees
- No overseas purchase fee or currency conversion fee
- You get 55 days interest free on purchases
- Access to free 24/7 concierge service
- Emergency card replacement worldwide
The 28 Degrees Platinum Mastercard has additional benefits including shoppers and repayments benefits cover.
- Can have 9 additional cardholders
- No overseas purchase fee, or currency conversion fee
- No foreign transaction fee
- Free Replacement Card
- High interest rates after the initial 55 days
- Minimum credit limit is $6,000
- No introductory offers or rewards
Bankwest Zero Platinum Mastercard - travel credit card for Europe
The Bankwest Zero Platinum Mastercard has no annual fee to pay, and no foreign transaction fee either. That can make it a good option if you’d prefer to spend using a credit card and then pay off your travel bills later. There’s even a buy now, pay later which may let you split the costs of some eligible purchases into 4 payments with no extra interest to pay. Bear in mind that some fees and costs do apply to this card, particularly if you want to make ATM withdrawals, or if you’d prefer not to pay your bill off in full every month.
- No annual fee to pay
- No Bankwest foreign transaction fee
- Some complimentary travel insurance available for card holders
- Can be used as a payment guarantee, such as when renting a car or checking into a hotel
- Interest applies if you don’t pay your bill in full every period
- Cash advance fee of 3%, and a higher rate of interest compared to card spending
- 6,000 AUD minimum credit limit
- Subject to eligibility requirements and credit checks
FAQ - 5 best travel cards for Europe
Which card is better to use in Europe?
The best card for Europe will depend on exactly where you’re heading and how you like to manage your money. Using a travel debit card or travel prepaid card like Wise travel card or Revolut can be a handy way to hold, exchange, spend and manage your money across a selection of major European currencies, offering flexibility and low costs.
What's the best prepaid card to use in Europe?
There’s no single best prepaid card for Europe, but picking one which covers all the currencies you’ll need is essential. Bear in mind that there are many other European currencies aside from pounds and euros - choose a card which has a broad range of supported currencies for convenience. Wise supports 40+ currencies, while Revolut has 25+ currencies, making either of these a good place to start your research.
Can I use my Australian debit card in Europe?
You can use your Australian debit card in Europe anywhere the network - often Visa or Mastercard - is supported. Bear in mind that you may need to tell your bank you’re planning to travel, to avoid your card being frozen for security reasons. Double check if your debit card has a foreign transaction fee to pay - if it does, using a specialist travel card can mean you pay less overall when you spend in foreign currencies.
What is the best way to pay when travelling in Europe?
Having a selection of ways to pay whenever you travel is a good idea. You may choose to carry some local cash, some AUD for exchange, your Australian debit card and a specialist travel credit or debit card, for example. This should mean you’re covered - even if you find a merchant which can’t accept your preferred payment method.
Which debit card has no fees in Europe?
A travel card from a provider like Wise, Revolut or Travelex lets you hold a foreign currency balance and spend it with no extra fee. Each card has its own features and fees so you’ll need to compare a few to decide which is best for your specific needs.
Is Visa or Mastercard better for Europe?
Both Visa and Mastercard are very widely accepted in Europe. Look out for the symbol displayed on ATMs or at payment terminals in stores.