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the ultimate guide to travel currency cards - no credit check required!!!

curve card

'these cards are taking on the big banks & winning'

(£/€/$5 free promo code included in this article)

so lets move away from posts of my travels around the world to write about some of the financial services that I find invaluable while traveling abroad as a backpacker & digital nomad. money to all travelers is the most important resource you have no matter if your a digital nomad living for years away from home or a newbie backpacker money dictates everything we do from the places we visit & stay to the restaurants we eat at & the tours we decided to spend our hard-earned cash on.

traditional banks have always charged hefty fee's for the luxury of travel from the exchange mark up to the insane atm's fee's that banks like chase & barclays charge their clients on a daily basis. well, i am happy to say the hold that the traditional banks had over us for years is finally over & the rise of the fintech companies is here to save us time & most importantly money.

I'll be reviewing three of the most popular cards on the market curve, revolut & transferwise prepaid debit cards, i have used all of these cards for years. they have been used in different capacities over the years but one of them comes out on top overall. which one will it be?? let's find out...

travel card and phone

why do i need a currency card?

well for me personally as a digital nomad travelling abroad full time it's all about the huge fees that banks charge for debit & credit card use abroad. for example on my UK natwest debit card charges are 2.75% of the total amount of the transaction used in store's & if you use an atm they add another 2% on top of that. that's a whopping 4.75% for someone like me this is crazy. this compares to the curve card fees of 0% in stores & £200 / €230 free atm withdrawals a month after that it's 2%, a saving of over 60% per transaction. it's a no brainer really.

security & benefits

is it more secure than my bank card?

the answer is yes! all these card offer the possibility to lock your card via the app when you find it's missing or stolen.

i personally keep all my cards locked until just a few moments before i use it, then i lock it again straight after the transaction has gone through, you can only do this if you have an internet connection at the time. any transactions on the card are also directly pushed to your smartphone via a notification so you know exactly when & who is charging your card.

all the cards offer the ability to disable different features like internet transactions could be disabled so if someone gets hold of your card details & tries to use it the transaction will not go through & you will be notified.

differences between the cards?

curve this card is slightly different from the others as it processes the transactions in real-time to your bank account. no need to add money to the curve account. as long as you have money in your bank account the curve card will work seamlessly. you can add as many bank or credit cards as you desire, even other currency cards.

curve card is super straight forward in terms of how it works once it's set up your good to go. transactions appear on your bank statement as an internet transaction this is great as your bank's fraud detectors never flag the transactions as you have used it so many time this means you can be anywhere in the world & your bank has no idea, this is great for privacy concerns. they offer cashback, travel & gadget insurance & airport lounge access with their premium subscriptions.

revolut this is a prepaid card. you have to add & hold money on your account so knowing how much you're going to spend daily or weekly is a must. i just add a large amount at one time around £/€500 it's safe on the account as they are regulated by the fca in the united kingdom so you can claim your money back if the company goes under.

they have their fingers in so many pies. they offer travel insurance, gadget insurance, savings accounts, cryptocurrency trading, credit loans & airport lounge access.

transferwise as with revolut this is also a prepaid card therefore once again you need to hold money in one of your currency accounts. again it's regulated by the fca so no need to worry about losing your money if they go under.

they offer a much simpler product compared to the others as this is mainly a money transfer service it's a standard card, no premium offering here. just a pre paid debit card attached to spend money from your different currency accounts. transferwise does have something over the others & that's local banks accounts in countries around the world i personally have a UK, USA & EUR bank account details. this is great for being paid abroad if you're a digital nomad.


curve charges no fee's, yes that's 0% on all transactions that are outside the currency of your card selected. e.g: if you spend $100 in new york then the charge would be $0 they use the interbank exchange rate too. if you decided to use your card in the UK with your UK bank card selected then the charge is also £0 as its the same currency. i have USA& UK cards on the app so depending on the country that I'm in i change the card that i use. this is where curve excels, no other card offers totally fee free spending it has personally saved me over £/€2000 since i became a digital nomad.

atm charges: they charge a flat fee of 2% over £200 / €230 per month. learn more about the fees they charge here

revolut this is where it's a little complicated but in general revolut charges no fee's from monday to friday but on the weekends it charges fee's & this depends on the currency that you are purchasing in. it's not totally clear why they do it like this.

atm charges: they charge a flat fee of 2% over £200 / €230 per month. learn more about the fees they charge here

transferwise charges up to a 2.85% fee on all transactions. it's super simple & they show you the amount straight away on your transaction receipt so you know exactly how much extra they charged. 2.85% may seem insignificant but if you're travelling long term or as digital nomad it can add up. if you spend £/€20.000 in a year then this would be £/€ 570 extra compared to the curve card.

atm charges: they charge a flat fee of 2% over £200 / €230 per month. learn more about the fees they charge here

free version vs premium

all the cards are totally free & have no monthly fee's but revolut & curve do offer premium metal versions of their cards. as the name suggests you get a metal mastercard crafted from a single piece of steel, the look & feel of both cards are super premium.

their are more advantages than just a metal card, both companies offer features that would not be possible from a single provider until now....

curve offers an increased atm withdrawal limit £600/€650 per month without extra fee's. you will also get travel insurance, car rental insurance, gadget cover & airport lounge access. their killer feature 'go back in time' (this let's you go back up to 14 days & change the card you purchased with).

£15/€17 pm | £150 py.

revolut also offers an increased atm withdrawal limit £600/€650 per month without extra fee's. travel insurance, access to crypto trading, airport lounge access & their killer feature 'disposable virtual cards' (these are one-time use cards for online transactions, great for websites in other countries). £13/€15 pm.

currency card apps

is a credit check required?

no. they are all technically classed as prepaid cards so no credit check is required. this means you have the opportunity to have a bank account in different currencies no matter what financial ghosts you have lurking in your past.

what's the downside?

i have not come across one yet. yes, it's true.... all the cards have huge benefits over their traditional bank competitors. this is why we have seen huge growth in the number of companies & customers signing up to these services.

the 3 cards

is my money safe?

all the cards offer similar protection to standard UK / EU high street bank debit cards where users will not be liable for unauthorised purchases from the moment they inform the company that their card has been stolen (see terms of service for full information).

all the cards are protected by mastercard & visa's chargeback rights, where refunds can be provided if goods are damaged, not as described or the merchant has ceased trading. this is exactly the same level of service you will get from any bank.

can i use the cards to pay for hotels or a car rental deposit?

yes, you can but only with curve. it will automatically assume that charges from hotels or car rental agencies over £150 are deposits. they treat these transactions differently to all others, putting a hold on payment capture, so the curve card effectively acts as a credit card would. however, curve cannot distinguish between deposit pre-auths & normal transactions, so for amounts below £150, curve will always process the transaction, much like if you paid on a debit card.

curve metal card

and the winner is...

it has to be the curve card.. in terms of saving money which i believe all people value the most this is hand down the best choice.

traditional banks have always made huge amounts of profit from charging travelers unfair & overinflated fees on atm & merchant transactions curve changes all that. it charges a very fair amount for the service they provide. i can honestly say i will never go back to using my original bank cards as i have personally saved over £/€2000 in the last five years alone..

a little something for free..

you can help support my blog & travels buy signing up for the curve card here. you'll also get a bonus of £/$/€5 when you complete the first transaction within a few weeks.

transferwise get your first money transfer for free here


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