Prepaid USD cards in the UK: exchange rates and fees [2022]

Gert Svaiko
15.08.22
5 minute read

This article is directed only to UK customers.

If you’re heading to the USA, it could be worth getting a prepaid USD card to cover your holiday spending.

Prepaid dollar cards can provide a cost-effective alternative to using your UK credit or debit card abroad. It may seem convenient to use your UK card, but it could be seriously expensive once you add up all the foreign transaction fees and other charges involved

In this guide, we’ll help you to compare prepaid USD card providers, including the US exchange rates, fees and perks.

If you’re travelling often, consider using the Wise Multi-Currency card, which offers low-cost spending in 175 countries, including the US. Plus, it automatically converts currency at a fair rate – the mid-market exchange rate – whenever you spend.

wise-account-tools

Learn more about Wise Multi-Currency card

What is a prepaid USD card?

A prepaid USD card does everything you’d expect from an ordinary debit card. So, you can withdraw money from ATMs, and spend in shops and restaurants.

But it has two key differences. Firstly, it’s not linked to your bank account. Instead, you’ll top up the card with your choice of currency – in this case, the US dollars.

Secondly, prepaid dollar cards aim to help you avoid foreign transaction fees and poor exchange rates. By loading up the card with your preferred currency, you can spend just like a local.

Where can you get a prepaid dollar card in the UK?

You’ll have a number of options for prepaid USD cards in the UK. Many places offer them, including Sainsburys, Asda, Travelex, the Post Office and Caxton. And of course, there’s the Wise international debit card.

Let’s run through some essential info about each.

Wise Multi-Currency Card

After you’ve opened a Wise account, you can also get yourself a Wise Multi-Currency card.

It lets you spend in 175 countries at the real exchange rate, with low conversion fees and transaction fees.

  • One-off cost of just £5 to order your card - no subscriptions
  • Free to pay with currencies in your account
  • Free ATM withdrawals up to £200 a month
  • Only pay a small variable conversion fee when you convert your money - only 0.44%¹ for GBP to USD
  • Automatically convert your money at the real exchange rate
  • Free virtual Visa debit card.
Exchange rateConversion fee - GBP to USDTransaction feeATM fee
1 GBP = 1.2104 USD¹

(15. Aug 2022 8am UTC)

0.44%¹Free.¹ *some merchants may charge an extra fee- Free for 2 withdrawals up to 200 GBP per month (or equivalent)¹

- 1.75% + 0.50 after this¹

The rates and fees shown on 15th August, 2022. Please see the Terms of Use for your region or visit Wise fees & pricing for the most up-to-date information on pricing and fees.

Sainsbury’s Bank Travel Money Card

Sainsbury’s Bank Travel Money Card allows you to keep 10 currencies² including USD in your pocket with a single card as you travel.

Some things to keep in mind:

  • Sainsbury’s adds a mark-up to the exchange rate². This means you’re not getting the real exchange rate as you would see on Google, so you’ll be losing out when they convert your money.
  • Sainsbury’s offers a different, more favourable exchange rate for Nectar card holders³. When different rates are offered, it’s an indication that a mark-up is being applied.
  • Card issue and replacement is free.
  • Inactivity fee: If you don’t use your card for 18 months or more there is a £2 GBP per month fee (or currency equivalent)².
Exchange rateConversion feeTransaction feeATM fee
1 GBP = 1.1839 USD³

(15. Aug 2022 8am UTC)

5.75%²Free. *some merchants may charge an extra fee²Free. *some ATM operators charge an extra fee²

Travelex Money Card

The Travelex Money Card is a prepaid Mastercard that you can load with a choice of 10 currencies⁴ before you travel.

Things to consider are:

  • The card is free, but you’ll pay £5 for an additional card⁴
  • There’s a chance that a mark-up may be applied to the exchange rate if you need to convert currency. Travelex applies a ‘tourist’ rate⁵ for exchange, which may not be as favourable as the real market rate.
  • Inactivity fee: £2 per month charged after not using your card for 12 months⁴.
Exchange rateConversion feeTransaction feeATM fee
1 GBP = 1.1826 USD⁴

(15. Aug 2022 8am UTC)

5.75%⁴Free. *some merchants may charge an extra fee⁴Free. *some ATM operators charge an extra fee⁴

Post Office Travel Money Card

The Post Office Travel Money Card offers one prepaid Mastercard card for 23 different currencies⁶. Once loaded, you can use it at 36 million⁶ shops, restaurants and bars around the world.

Some things to consider:

  • You can manage your card with the Post Office Travel app.
  • It’s likely that a mark-up will be added on top of the exchange rate, so you may lose out.
  • Inactivity fee: a maintenance fee of £2 per month will be charged if you have a remaining balance 12 months after the card has expired (cards last for 3 years)⁶.
Exchange rateConversion feeTransaction feeATM fee
1 GBP = 1.1900 USD⁷

(15. Aug 2022 8am UTC)

3%⁶Free. *some merchants may charge an extra fee⁶2.50 USD per cash withdrawal (or currency equivalent)⁶

Asda Currency Card

The Asda prepaid currency card can help you handle your travel money in 16 currencies⁸, with all the reassurance of Chip and PIN security, convenient contactless payments and a safer way to spend travel money abroad than cash. Things to know:

  • Available currencies include: USD, EUR, GBP, ZAR, AUD, CAD, CHF and NZD⁸.
  • There’s a chance that a mark-up may be applied to the exchange rate if you need to convert currency.
  • Inactivity fee of £2 if your card is not used for 12 months¹⁰.
Exchange rateConversion feeTransaction feeATM fee
1 GBP = 1.1875 USD⁹

(15. Aug 2022 8am UTC)

5.75%¹⁰Free. *some merchants may charge an extra fee¹⁰Free. *Although some ATMs charge an extra fee¹⁰

The Caxton Currency Card

The Caxton Currency Card is a ‘One Account’ Mastercard which lets you hold 15 currencies¹¹ at once. You can use it wherever you see the Mastercard logo.

A few key points to remember:

  • You’ll get a free Caxton Card when you load at least £10¹¹
  • Manage your money through the mobile app
  • You can upgrade to Caxton Red, paying £5 a month to get better exchange rates¹².
Exchange rateConversion feeTransaction feeATM fee
1 GBP = 1.1835 USD¹¹

(15. Aug 2022 8am UTC)

2.49%¹³Free overseas, £1.50 for domestic transactions. *some merchants may charge an extra fee¹³Free overseas, £1.50 for domestic transactions. *Although some ATMs charge an extra fee¹³

Comparing prepaid USD cards’ exchange rates

But what does this mean for you? To help you research which option works for you, here is an overview of the exchange rates, and mark-ups for each of the providers mentioned in this article.

ProviderExchange Rate \ (15. Aug 2022 8am UTC)Markup (Based on mid-market rate: 1 GBP = 1.2104 USD)
Wise Multi-Currency card1 GBP = 1.2104 USD0%
Sainsbury’s Bank Travel Money Card1 GBP = 1.1839 USD2.19%
Travelex Money Card1 GBP = 1.1826 USD2.30%
Post Office Travel Money Card1 GBP = 1.1900 USD1.69%
Asda Currency Card1 GBP = 1.1875 USD1.89%
Caxton Currency Card1 GBP = 1.1835 USD2.22%

After reading this guide, you should have a good idea of what’s out there in terms of prepaid USD cards. Crucially, you’ll also know about the fees and exchange rates, so you can compare them all.

Then, all you need to do is pick the card that works for you, so you can get the most for your money when you head to the US.


Sources used:

  1. Wise - Multi-Currency card Pricing
  2. Sainsbury’s Bank - Prepaid Travel Money Card
  3. Sainsbury’s Bank - Travel Money Currency Converter
  4. Travelex - Travel Money Card
  5. Travelex - Tourist Exchange Rates
  6. Post Office Travel Money Card
  7. Post Office Travel Money Card - FX rate
  8. Asda Money - Travel Money Card
  9. Asda Money - Travel Money
  10. ASDA Money - Travel Money Card fees and limits
  11. Caxton Currency Card
  12. Caxton Red Card
  13. Caxton Card - Terms and Conditions

Sources last checked on date: 15-Aug-2022


This publication is provided for general information purposes only and is not intended to cover every aspect of the topics with which it deals. It is not intended to amount to advice on which you should rely. You must obtain professional or specialist advice before taking, or refraining from, any action on the basis of the content in this publication. The information in this publication does not constitute legal, tax or other professional advice from TransferWise Limited or its affiliates. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome. We make no representations, warranties or guarantees, whether express or implied, that the content in the publication is accurate, complete or up to date.

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