The 5 Best Debit Cards For Traveling

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The 5 Best Debit Cards For Traveling

international travel debit cards stacked on top of each other


*Note - This piece focuses on debit cards that are available to US-based users*

Table Of Contents

Why Do You Need A Debit Card For Traveling?

  1. Cash is still king most places around the world
    • There are still many places in the world you can't swipe your credit card (but if you are going to swipe, it's safer to swipe your travel credit card than your debit card).
    • If you refuse to carry cash, you're going to miss out on that little roadside barbecue shack in Siargao or that Medellin abuela slinging arepas. You think she's got time for a point-of-sale system?!
  2. Your money goes further
    • You could bring USD with you to exchange at currency exchanges. But you're going lose 5-10% of your cash that way. 
  3. It's far less risky than traveling with cash
    • You could go to your local bank before your leave and exchange USD for the local currency where you're going. But aside from being highly inconvenient, it's incredibly risky to travel with that much cash.
Don’t do what I did.

When I started working remotely I put zero effort into understanding how to be a digital nomad (if you haven't, check out our guide to digital nomading). I made the costly mistake of doing absolutely no research beforehand and taking a standard Chase ATM card, which charges HUGE withdrawal fees, while traveling abroad. Big. Mistake.

I likely paid for one of Jamie Dimon’s yachts off these withdrawal fees alone.


What Makes A Good Travel Debit Card?

Here are the some of the key components travelers want to look for in a debit card.

  1. Low/no fees for swiping/withdrawing
  2. Large network of in-network ATMs around the world
  3. Great fraud protection

1. Low/No Fees For Using/Withdrawing

There are some ATM cards out there - here's looking at you, Chase - that stack charges every time you use your ATM card abroad.

Now, there are a few different fees you may or may not get charged when withdrawing money abroad;

Types Of ATM Fees Charged For Using Your Debit Card Abroad

  1. Foreign Transaction Fee (charged by your bank)
    1. This is a fee some banks charges you just for using your ATM card abroad, whether that's to purchase something or withdraw money. It's usually a flat rate of 1% - 3% the total transaction value.
  2. Out-Of-Network ATM Fee (charged by your bank)
    1. This is a fee your bank charges you for using an ATM that is not owned by them, or outside their network of affiliated ATMs. This ranges from $2 - $10. It is charged on top of other fees, like the Foreign Transaction Fee. Many banks no longer charge this fee, but there are some - Chase - that still do.
  3. ATM Usage Fee (charged by the ATM)
    1. This is a fee the ATM charges you for withdrawing from it, and this ranges from $1 - $10 (depending on where you're at, this can be even higher). There are actually some ATM cards that will reimburse the ATM Usage Fee (more on them below).
  4. Currency Conversion Fee (charged by the ATM)
    1. Always decline ATM currency conversion fees. Always. Decline. You will be able to withdraw money in the local currency even if you decline the currency conversion fee at ATMs.
    2. Currency conversion fees are bonafide shakedowns by financial institutions. They range in anywhere from 2% - 7% of the total transaction cost.
    3. In 10 years of traveling abroad, I've declined the currency conversion fees every single time, and I've never once had a problem withdrawing in the local currency.

2. Large Network Of In-Network ATMs Around The World

If your bank doesn't refund ATM fees, many of them are part of an ATM network, for example - Allpoint. You're able to withdraw from "in-network" ATMs without incurring any ATM Usage Fees. 

3.Great Fraud Protection

ATM cards are more risky to use abroad than travel credit cards, because instead of being charged to your card, using an ATM card means the money is immediately taken out of your account.

A great ATM card will offer protection against fraudulent charges by canceling the charges or flagging suspicious purchases automatically.

The Five Best Debit Cards For Traveling

1. Revolut: Best Overall Debit Card For Traveling

Revolut app to control account and credit card for international travel


If you’re a digital nomad with a US-based job, and you don’t do cross-border business, Revolut is probably going to be the best debit card for you.


Revolut Travel Debit Card Overview

Fee-free ATM network  Revolut has a network of fee-free ATMs. You can find Revolut's ATM network inside the app (many ATMs will slap a third-party charge on there, which Revolut doesn’t cover).
Withdrawal fees outside the network  Once you exceed your free out-of-network ATM withdrawal allowance (which depends on the plan) - you’ll be charged 2% of the total of your transaction.
Annual fee  Free - $55/month
Foreign transaction fee  None
Perks and tiers  Revolut has 5 different plans. The free Standard account offers budgeting tools, free international money transfers, and limited but generous ATM withdrawals.

Plus, Premium, Metal and Ultra are all premium accounts that offer higher withdrawal limits, priority customer support, overseas medical insurance, delayed baggage & flight insurance, lounge access, trip insurance and more.
Limitations Not available in many countries worldwide.


Revolut is definitely trying to become the to-to global fintech app, so your ability to withdraw abroad is far from the only thing this card offers. It also offers full-on savings accounts with some pretty hefty APY, stock trading and the ability to buy/sell crypto.

You can check out Revolut here. 


2. Wise: Best Debit Card For Freelancers Who Travel

Formerly TransferWise, Wise is a great debit card for travelers who are freelancing. Wise currently supports over 50 currencies, and it’s ACH & wire transfers are faster than Revolut.

    Wise Travel Debit Card Overview

    Fee-free ATM network  Wise offers 2 free ATM withdrawals per month that are within the "monthly fee-free allowance amount". 

    Withdrawal fees outside the network  After exceeding either 2 withdrawals or the monthly withdrawal allowance, you’re then charged a fixed amount per withdrawal plus 1-2% of the withdrawal amount depending on where you got your Wise card.
    Annual fee  None
    Foreign transaction fee  None
    Perks and tiers  Wise offers a free account for travelers with the real mid-market exchange rates, ability to hold and convert 50+ currencies.
    • The monthly withdrawal allowance amounts are rather low, especially if you're in a place where cash is king.
    • This means that 1-2% you'll pay per withdrawal over your monthly withdrawal can really add up.
    • This fee makes the Wise account far more valuable to freelancers traveling abroad than the Wise travel debit card.


    Wise is a great option if you're freelancing and need to send/receive payments to/from other countries and in other currencies. But because of Wise's low monthly withdrawal allowances and high fees once you surpass that allowance, the Wise account is far more valuable than the Wise debit card for traveling.


    3. Chime: Best Debit Card For Travelers Without Credit History

    Chime ATM card for travelers

    Chime offers a fairly standard debit card for traveling - with one massive advantage. They don’t run a credit check when you open your account. So if you have no credit or poor credit, you can still get a Chime account.


    Chime Travel Debit Card Overview

    Fee-free ATM network  Yes, at 38,000+ MoneyPass and Visa Plus Alliance ATMs.
    Withdrawal fees outside the network  $2.50 per transaction.
    Annual fee  None
    Foreign transaction fee  None
    Perks and tiers  Chime's Spending Account offers features like early access to direct deposit funds and automatic savings.
    Limitations Chime does not have any physical branches, so you need to withdraw from an ATM.


    If you’re looking for a very basic international debit card that’s going to get you cash with minimal hassle, minimal fees and no credit checks, Chime is a good option.


    4. Betterment: Best Travel Debit Card For High-Yield Savings & Zero Fee Withdrawals

    Betterment logo

    If you're a digital nomad and you're looking for a bank account that gives you free international withdrawals and high-yield savings, you should check out Betterment's High-Yield Savings account.

    Betterment Travel Debit Card Overview

    Fee-free ATM network  Betterment will reimburse all ATM fees worldwide.
    Withdrawal fees outside the network  None
    Annual fee  None
    Foreign transaction fee  None
    Perks and tiers 
    • Betterment Checking comes with no fees and mobile check deposit.
    • A Betterment Cash Reserve account offers a 4.75% APY, which means you can keep the bulk of your funds there, and transfer smaller amounts to your checking account when you’re ready to use them.
    Limitations Betterment does not have physical branches, so you can't deposit cash.

    Betterment is one of the best debit cards for travelers available on the market today, and if you're just looking for a basic debit card to take money out with (and that gives you some meaty APYs), Betterment is your best bet.

    5. Charles Schwab: Best Travel Debit Card For Fee-Free Withdrawals, Physical Bank Locations & Fraud Protection

    To get the Charles Schwab ATM card, you’ll need to open up a Charles Schwab Investor Checking account, and opening an Investor Checking account automatically enrolls you in a Schwab One brokerage account.

    With that said, this extra legwork comes with an added layer of security in Charles Schwab’s Security Guarantee (more on that below). Plus, Charles Schwab has physical branches, so unlike Betterment, you can deposit cash there when you're back home. 

    Charles Schwab Travel Debit Card Overview

    Fee-free ATM network  Charles Schwab reimburses all ATM fees worldwide
    Withdrawal fees outside the network  None
    Annual fee  None
    Foreign transaction fee  None
    Perks and tiers 
    The Charles Schwab High Yield Investor Checking Account offers a Security Guarantee - where they will refund any expenses lost to unauthorized activity (fraud, stolen card, etc).
    Limitations Requires you also open a Schwab One brokerage account. However, this account has no minimums or fees, so you literally don’t have to touch it after opening it.

    Charles Schwab is a fantastic debit card for travelers who want fee-free withdrawals, physical bank locations and a little extra layer of security when they're abroad.


    So there you have it - taking money out abroad doesn’t have to suck. Before you head off, grab one of the travel debit cards above and you’ll be all set to jet. And if you're a remote worker who works and plays from anywhere, check out our 2-in-1 laptop case that doubles as a stand and helps you create a better workflow anywhere on Earth.