The 3 Best Travel Cards For the US - 2024

The US is one of the top destinations for Australians all year round, with all sorts to do whether you’re looking for a city break or to get out into nature. In the US it is very common to be asked if you want to pay by card in stores, restaurants and hotels - so having smart and simple ways to spend in US dollars will allow you to relax and get on with enjoying your trip.

In this guide we compare the 6 best travel cards for the US and present their main features.

Wise card - our pick for travel debit card for Australians to use in the US

With this card:

  • Convert AUD to USD 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 2% ATM withdrawal fee when you withdraw over $350 during a month
  • It takes 7-14 days for delivery

Click here to see the full list of cards and how Wise compares

What are different types of travel cards?

Travel cards aren't exactly the most exciting thing you need to decide on before your holiday to the United States. But they are an important part, and choosing the wrong one can mean that you can lose a lot of money through fees, charges and exchange rates.

The solution? Finding the one that best suits your needs whether it's a prepaid card, debit card or a credit card.

To help narrow your options, here is a list of the best Travel Cards and the key benefits and pitfalls of each one.

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:

  1. Travel Debit Cards
  2. Prepaid Travel Cards
  3. Travel Credit Cards

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.

For daily purchases, we a debit card could 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.

using a debit card overseas

Wise - travel debit card for the US

  • 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

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.

Australian Prepaid travel cards

Revolut - prepaid travel card for the US

With this card:

  • No purchase fee, load fee, reload fee, exchange rate margin or minimum balance requirements
  • Unlike other Travel Cards, its free and easy to use the balance of your currency or convert it back to AUD
  • Mid-market exchange rate, they add a mark-up for currency conversion during weekends

It's not all good news though

  • For the free Standard account, there is a 2% ATM withdrawal fee when you withdraw over $350 during a month
  • The premium account costs $10.99 a month, which can really add up if you are not using it often

Click here to see the full list of cards and how Revolut compares

  • 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

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 the US

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

FAQ - 5 best travel cards for the US

Which card is better to use in the US?

There’s no single best card for use in the US - in fact, having several different ways to pay can make sense in case one card isn’t accepted by a particular merchant. Consider getting a travel credit card and a low cost travel debit card from a service like Wise or Revolut, to make sure you’ve always got an easy way to pay in USD.

What's the best prepaid card to use in the USA?

Choosing a prepaid card which lets you hold a balance in USD can be a good way to budget for your trip, and can help keep costs down too. Compare a few cards to see which suits you best, including options with digital multi-currency features like Wise and Revolut.

Can I use an Australian debit card in the USA?

Yes. You’ll usually find you can use your Australian debit card in the US, but you might find that your bank or card issuer adds extra fees to foreign currency spending. Check your card’s terms and conditions carefully, and consider getting a specialist travel debit or credit card to keep costs low.

What is the best way to pay for things in the USA?

Card payments are often accepted in the US, and can be a secure way to spend - plus you can always make ATM withdrawals for those times only cash will do. Carrying several payment methods is a smart plan - such as a debit card and a credit card on different global networks - so you’ll always be able to pay when you’re away from home.

Which debit card has no fees in the US?

Different card providers have their own fees - and foreign currency spending may mean paying extra if your bank adds a foreign transaction fee to your purchase cost. Consider getting a specialist travel debit card, such as the Wise card or a card and account from Revolut, to hold and spend a USD balance with no extra fees to pay.

Is Visa or Mastercard better for the US?

Both Visa and Mastercard networks are well supported in the US - look out for the logo near the payment terminal and on ATMs.

How can I avoid transaction fees in the USA?

Choose a no foreign transaction fee debit or credit card to keep down the costs of spending in the US. If you have a multi-currency account from a provider like Wise or Revolut you could convert your AUD to USD seamlessly online or in an app, to spend with no foreign transaction fee while you’re away.

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.
Read more
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.
Read more
Last updated
March 13th, 2024