Best international prepaid debit cards: 2022 guide

Gabriela Peratello

International prepaid cards can be a great resource when you travel, making spending foreign currencies and withdrawing local cash convenient and secure.

This guide looks at which prepaid cards can be used internationally, where to find prepaid reloadable international debit cards, and all about how to use prepaid debit cards for international travel.

We’ll also touch on how Wise’s prepaid debit card can help you save on currency conversion costs while you spend in countries.

📑 Table of Contents


What is a prepaid card?

In many ways a prepaid card is similar to your regular debit card. You’ll be able to use a prepaid card to make ATM withdrawals or payments in stores, and you’ll avoid overdraft fees because you can’t spend more than you’ve topped up.

Prepaid cards really come into their own when you travel. When you’re in an unfamiliar place, carrying a card is convenient, and safer than having a lot of cash on you.

Depending on the card you choose, a prepaid international debit card may also get you lower fees and a better exchange rate compared to using your normal bank card.

Your prepaid card isn’t linked to any of your other accounts, so even in the unlikely event that you’re a victim of fraud or lose your card and PIN, the thieves wouldn’t be able to get to your regular bank balance. This gives you extra peace of mind, no matter where you are in the world.

How does a prepaid card work?

You’ll find prepaid cards you can pick up before you leave home, and top up online in dollars. You then select the currency you need when you’re abroad, and switch your balance, so you know exactly how much you have in the foreign currency.

This can make it easier to budget for a trip, as you know exactly what’s available, and there should be no surprise fees or costs associated with exchange rate fluctuations. It also means you don’t have to spend time searching for a currency exchange office in an unfamiliar place — leaving you free to get on with enjoying your trip.

There are also travel cards which don’t switch your dollars in advance of your trip, but do so as and when you use your card for spending. These are rather more like using a regular debit card, but do mean you won’t be able to see the exchange rates used until after the transaction has been processed.

Pros and cons of using a prepaid card when traveling abroad

✅ Pros❌ Cons
  • Spend and withdraw all over the world

  • Secure with no link to your main bank account

  • Manage your budget — no overdraft or interest fees

  • You may get better rates and lower fees compared to using your normal bank card

  • Different cards have their own fees, which can include top up charges and exchange rate markups

  • Prepaid cards aren’t accepted in some scenarios — you’ll need an additional means of payment just in case

Where to buy international prepaid debit cards?

We’ll look in depth at some of the best US prepaid debit cards for international use in just a moment. The good news is, whichever you pick, it’ll be easy enough to get hold of your card before you travel.

Prepaid cards you can use internationally are often available to order online — in which case they’re delivered right to your mailbox. Or you may be able to pick up a card in a store or bank location, top up and get started right away. Easy.

The best prepaid debit cards for international use: a list

You’ll have a good range of options available if you’re thinking of getting a prepaid debit card for travel for your next trip. Here are a few to consider.

There’s also a handy table at the end showing which of the cards can be used to convert a balance and lock in the exchange rate before you travel to some of the most popular destinations from the US.

More than a prepaid card: the Wise debit card

Wise card

When opening a free Wise account online you can get an international prepaid debit card which allows you to keep over 40+ currencies and spend like a local in 160+ countries.

Because you’re able to add money to be spent directly in any of the currencies you can hold, the Wise debit card works similarly to any other prepaid card.

The most important difference, though, is that you might have to go through additional verification steps to make sure your money is secure.

On the upside, you’ll be able to convert currencies as needed, using the mid-market exchange rate and for just a low, transparent fee — or have the card’s auto convert feature switch to the currencies you need instantly, for the lowest possible fee¹⁰.

  • Spend in 160+ countries

  • Withdraw from 2.3 million ATMs globally

  • Hold, exchange and spend 40+ currencies

Fees and charges
  • One off fee of 9 USD for ordering the card

  • Withdraw cash with low fees per transaction after that

Exchange rate

Please see Terms of Use for your region or visit Wise Fees & Pricing for the most up to date pricing and fee information.

Revolut international card¹

Get a Revolut card and account to hold and exchange 28 currencies, and spend in over 140 currencies using your linked card.

You’ll be able to exchange currencies using the mid-market rate in most cases.

However, there is a currency markup for Thai baht and Ukrainian hryvnia, and you’ll pay a fee for exchanging large amounts over the course of a month, or at a weekend.

  • Hold and exchange 28 currencies

  • Spend 140+ with your card

  • Get interest on savings

  • Upgrade to a fee paid plan to unlock more features

Fees and charges
  • Account plans cost up to 16.99 USD/month

  • Some out of network ATM fees apply

  • Out of hours and exotic currency charges of 0.5% — 1%

Exchange rate
  • Mid-market rate exchange to 1,000 USD/month on the standard plan


There are a few popular cards from Netspend which offer prepaid spending at home and abroad.

You can either choose a card with a monthly fee, or a pay as you go option which doesn’t cost a fixed service charge but which does involve per transaction charges³.

This brings flexibility but fees for international spending are fairly high, so you will want to make sure you’re clear on the terms if you opt for this card type.

The foreign transaction surcharge can be in the region of 3.5%⁴, which is added to purchases and ATM withdrawals. A fee may also apply to the ATM withdrawal, which may be around 4.95 USD depending on the specific card you have.

  • Range of different cards and account plans

  • Suitable for use at home and abroad

Fees and charges
  • Monthly plan fee can be in the region of 9.95 USD

  • ATM withdrawal fees which can be around 4.95 USD internationally, or 2.50 USD in the US

  • Cash reload fees apply

  • Inactivity fees may apply

Exchange rate

Western Union Netspend⁵

You can buy a Western Union Netspend card in the US, and use it to spend where you see the MasterCard symbol.

You’ll be able to send or receive payments to the card using Western Union, although there are fees and an exchange rate markup you’ll want to know about.

Log in to your account online to check the specific costs for your transaction.

  • Send and receive payments via the card

  • Spend around the world

  • Promotions and offers from Western Union partners

Fees and charges
  • Monthly plan fee can be in the region of 9.95 USD

  • ATM withdrawal fees which can be around 4.95 USD internationally, or 2.50 USD in the US

  • Cash reload fees apply

  • Inactivity fees may apply

Exchange rate
  • A 3.5% foreign transaction fee applies

PayPal Prepaid⁶

You’ll be able to get a prepaid card from PayPal, which can be used overseas as well as at home. You can fund the card with PayPal balance if you have it, or top up at a retail location, or online.

It’s worth noting that this card is convenient but does come with fees. There’s a monthly charge of 4.95⁷ USD, and fees for using your card when you travel. You’ll pay a 4% foreign transaction fee, for example. You may also find the exchange rates offered aren't the best available.

  • Add money with cash, bank transfer, or PayPal balance

  • Spend around the world

  • Receive direct deposits to the card

Fees and charges
  • Monthly plan fee of 4.95 USD

  • ATM withdrawal fees of 2.50 USD in the US

  • Cash reload fees apply

Exchange rate
  • A 3.5% foreign transaction fee applies

Ally Bank⁸

Ally is an online bank. While the cards and accounts offered from Ally are not strictly speaking the same as the prepaid debit cards for travel featured elsewhere on this list, you could open and use an Ally account in a similar way.

Accounts are opened online, so you could top up only what you intend to spend while you travel, and use your linked card for convenience.

This gives the security of a prepaid card, as your Ally account won’t link to any of your regular bank accounts.

Ally charges a 1% fee for ATM use overseas⁹, and there may be additional charges levied by the ATM operators. Check the full terms and conditions online.

  • Banking services in addition to card for international use

  • Digital bank with option to apply fully online from home

Fees and charges
  • Vary based on the account you hold — typically low and transparent

Exchange rate
  • 1% foreign transaction fee for ATM use

Where can you get a prepaid Visa card for international use?

There are many prepaid card options out there from banks and online providers. Because Visa and MasterCard are among the most commonly accepted card networks outside of the US, many travel cards are issued on these networks to increase coverage.

Use this guide to find the right Visa prepaid card for your needs, or ask your bank if they offer this product to account holders.

If prepaid or debit cards aren’t really your thing, check out our full guide to the best travel credit cards

International prepaid cards: availability by country

One handy feature of some prepaid travel cards is that you can convert your dollars to the currency you need before you go on a trip, locking in the exchange rate.

You’re then sure what you have to spend, and should be able to avoid any surprise fees. Here are the cards which give that option, by destination country.

CountryTravel card(s) offering the local currency
AustraliaWise, Revolut
CanadaWise, Revolut
Costa RicaWise
CroatiaWise, Revolut
Europe (EUR)Wise, Revolut
IndiaWise, Revolut
MexicoWise, Revolut
United KingdomWise, Revolut

Tips for using your prepaid debit card abroad

Before you head off on your trip, here are another few top tips to make sure you can make the most of your money.

Always pay in the local currency

When you’re using a card abroad in a store or ATM, you may be asked if you’d like to pay in your home currency — dollars — instead of the local currency in your destination.

ATM and payment providers claim this is a service which lets you easily see the cost of your purchase in a familiar currency. However, it’s also a good way to hit unnecessary fees, and inflated exchange rates.

This process is called dynamic currency conversion — DCC — and should be avoided. Always choose to pay in the local currency wherever you are, to get the best exchange rates available.

Be careful when choosing an ATM

Not all ATMs are made equal. Some charge higher fees than others, and while you’re usually notified of the charges before you get started, you could end up paying more than you expect if you’re in a hurry to get cash.

Research your destination online using resources like Tripadvisor and Reddit to see which ATM will charge you the least, especially in popular tourist destinations. Do not take out cash too often to avoid excessive fees.

Make sure to bring a second card and some cash

Being stuck without funds will ruin your trip pretty quickly. Carry cash and a second card which operates on a different network to your main payment method. That way you’ll be covered for most eventualities.

Pay attention to the exchange rate

Know your exchange rates before you go. You want to find the mid-market exchange rate for your currency, which is the best benchmark to use when comparing the rates available from card providers and currency services.

Comparing the rate you’ve been offered with the mid-market rate will show up any markup or margin added by the provider. Choose a smart alternative like the Wise account to get the mid-market rate every time, and top up your account or card in advance to lock in rates and avoid surprises.

💡 If you need to manage international business expenses, then you can also open a Wise Business account.

Some key features of Wise Business include:
  • Better visibility and organization of business finances. This is helpful for account reconciliations and audits
  • Major local account details for a simple one-off fee to receive international payments with ease
  • No monthly account fees or minimum balance requirements
  • Receive payments from e-commerce platforms such as Amazon or via Stripe
  • Create invoices using the free Wise invoice generator or invoice templates
  • Accounting integrations, including a QuickBooks Bill Pay connection
  • Batch payment options. Fast payment of up to 1,000 people

Discover the difference between
Wise Business vs Personal

There’s a lot to think about before you head overseas. But getting your foreign currency arranged is one travel essential you can’t ignore.

Choose a prepaid card as a primary or back-up method of spending, to benefit from relatively simple and safe access to your money while overseas. You won’t regret it.


  1. Revolut
  2. Netspend
  3. Netspend - Compare plans
  4. Netspend - Fees
  5. Western Union - Netspend
  6. PayPal - Prepaid card
  7. PayPal - Prepaid fees
  8. Ally Bank
  9. Ally Bank - Help center
  10. Please see Terms of Use for your region or visit Wise Fees & Pricing: only pay for what you use for the most up to date pricing and fee information

Sources checked on 08.29.2022

*Please see terms of use and product availability for your region or visit Wise fees and pricing for the most up to date pricing and fee information.

This publication is provided for general information purposes and does not constitute legal, tax or other professional advice from Wise Payments Limited or its subsidiaries and its affiliates, and it is not intended as a substitute for obtaining advice from a financial advisor or any other professional.

We make no representations, warranties or guarantees, whether expressed or implied, that the content in the publication is accurate, complete or up to date.

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