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EXCLUSIVE: 4 Travel Debits to Consider for the Summer

Among the enumeration of to-do’s to check off before a holiday, the question of money is far from rhetorical. Converting cash, using your own debit/credit card, or even using crypto, are all viable options people have used when vacationing abroad. The dilemma arises when comparing fluctuating exchange rates and levels of protection; leaving travellers to ask “how can I get the most value for money whilst protecting myself from theft and fraud?”

WorldPay’s recent Global Payments Report found that payment methods for both e-commerce and point-of-sale have been mostly conquered by e-wallets and cards, with cash taking 10% of the global POS market. The report further reveals that the most widely used payment preference of continents like Europe and APAC are increasingly e-wallets and cards. You would be hard-pressed to find small businesses or tourist attractions that don’t accept these modes of payment.

Credit and debit cards are the safer option for travelling abroad because of their accessibility and layers of protection. With credit cards, you can claim chargeback on a transaction or suspend your card if it gets stolen. With debits, the implementation of PSD2 protects debit card users from liability on unauthorised payments and surcharging in the Eurozone. To curb exchange rates and transaction fees, cards are a vacationer’s best friend. It is in this space that fintech banks are developing cards which do the most in bringing costs down and delivering rewards.

Here are four debit cards to consider before going OOO for the summer:

Chase Mastercard Debit

Chase is the banking subsidiary of financial services conglomerate JPMorgan Chase. The bank offers a catalogue of debit and credit cards, all orientated around rewards. The Chase Mastercard is their standard debit, malleable for home use and abroad.

For regular usage, users have access to 1% cashback on their purchases for a whole year, which they attain through the bank’s app. Chase will also match customers with a 5% AER (4.89% gross) variable interest when they round up their purchases to the nearest pound. Talking strictly about design, the Chase card is numberless, providing a physical defence against fraud on top of its active monitoring.

Fortunately, the rewards do not cease in different countries. Chase users can receive 1% cashback when they book their flights with Chase and when they touch down. Better still, the bank will not charge a transaction fee for any purchases you make abroad, strictly applying the current Mastercard exchange rate to anything you buy. Users can also withdraw up to £500 in local currency and withdrawals are free in the US.

Chase is a relatively open bank you can use anywhere (except if that place is Cuba or any restricted areas).

Starling Bank Mastercard World Debit

Another fintech disruptor, Starling’s debit and credit options are incredibly versatile, and ideal for holiday usage. Without having to alert the bank, users are not charged any transaction fees when they use their card contactless or for withdrawals. Like Chase, they match their rates along with the current Mastercard exchange rate. They will also alert customers on every purchase they make through their app, in both currencies.

On the fraud front, Starling has several precautions put up in case of emergency. The bank has 24-hour app support, and users can lock their card and any payments that come out of it with their app, in case it has been stolen. A new card would also be shipped out to you if this happens, wherever you are.

One leg up it has over Chase is that Starling will ship card days and you can start spending immediately after opening an account, with Chase it takes a couple of weeks before you can start using.

Monzo Mastercard Debit

With fees, Monzo is a little different. Like the previous two, they charge 0% on purchasing and transaction fees, using MasterCard’s exchange rate. For standard Monzo users in the European Economic Area (EEA), withdrawals over £250 will be met with an added 3% interest every 30 days. Outside the EEA, users can take £200 every 30 days for free, after that the 3% interest will be charged.

Monzo has a social edge to it so if you’re travelling with friends, it may be one to consider. With their Shared Tabs feature, you can keep track of who owes who for the £100+ seafood dinners, and Monzo will calculate the rest in-app, regardless of whether they are Monzo users or not. Users can also masochistically tally up how much they spent on the holiday alone in the app if they wanted on the ‘Holidays’ page.

If you’re looking for a little more from Monzo, they also have a premium upgrade. For £15 a month, users have access to Axa-backed travel insurance, up to £600 of free cash withdrawals a month, and discounted access to over 1000 airport lounges. For the extra £15, the perks outweigh the cost.

Multicurrency Wirex Mastercard

Steering straight into the cryptosphere, Wirex has a refreshing solution for payments abroad. The borderless payments platform launched its multi-currency Mastercard in 2020. It is their standard debit that can be used for everyday use as well as holidays because of its global scope. The card is compatible with 150 currencies, including Bitcoin and Ether, and automatically converts currency at POS using live and over-the-counter exchange rates – free of charge. Customers can also withdraw up to £400 a month without fees.

A unique feature of this card relates to its use of crypto. Users can attain an 8% cryptoback reward for every online and offline transaction they make with their card. Rewards are paid out in the company’s WXT token and put into the customers’ X-Tras account – part of Wirex’s reward programme – which they can track using their app. The app itself has much in common with the other accounts mentioned above, with live alerts for each transaction and accessible tech support.

The card is gaining traction in the APAC region, with Wirex adding 3 Singaporean stablecoins to its list of currencies earlier this year. Now more cardholders from that region can make bank transfers using LINK, UNI and XSGD tokens.

[Disclaimer: the next paragraph is not to be taken as financial advice.]

Writer’s Choice

The aforementioned debits are fantastic for globetrotters who want to spend as little as possible and still reap all the rewards. Their unique features, however, appeal to very specific travellers.

If you’re more money orientated and want to save, whether at home or abroad, then Chase is a great choice. For users more cautious around fraud, Starling is the safest option, as they can shut down cards instantly through the app. The added immediacy of using your account and having a card sent out in just a few days, is great for users who need that peace of mind. If, like me, you tend to travel in packs, Monzo is the way to go.

The shared tabs feature is a godsend for making bill splitting more manageable and it’s inclusive to all card users outside of the bank. Lastly, if you deal heavily in crypto and would like to utilise it in everyday transactions, Wirex is the card that offers exactly that. Its crypto-forward approach to spending and travelling, where you can earn crypto-related rewards as you spend abroad, is revolutionary and great for amateurs and aficionados alike.

The next time you venture out into the world, consider what fintechs have to offer. With a card and a banking app at your fingertips, the financial language barrier becomes a lot less ambiguous.

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