Credit cards charge you a ton of money for every ATM withdrawal abroad. Without blushing, our bank charges us 5€ for each withdrawal! That’s on top of the amount of local currency that the foreign ATM charges us! Travelers from the US all seem to have credit cards and they’re all saving miles for their trips. In Europe, saving miles isn’t that easy and we don’t really have credit card companies who offer us flying miles. So why would we be paying extra commission on every ATM withdrawal abroad? 

Where does your money go?

ATM withdrawal commission

Credit cards charge a commission for every withdrawal. If you don’t research the commission before you leave, you might be in for an unpleasant surprise. Without blushing, our bank charges as much as 5€ per withdrawal.

Horrible exchange rates

Most credit cards will use an exchange rate which is to their advantage. This means you will lose a lot of money, either way. If you change Euros to a foreign currency, you’ll get the worst possible exchange rate. If you should try to change it back to Euro a minute later, you’ll see you lost even more, because you get the worst possible exchange rate, again.

The ATM charges you too!

This is not something your bank can help. They already took as much as they could. Now it’s time the local bank company earned some money as well! Most ATMs will charge foreign cards for withdrawals. In Guatemala, this is almost 5€ and we’re guessing this amount is about the same everywhere. In Colombia, we found an ATM that didn’t charge anything for withdrawals, but that’s really an exception to the rule.

Summed up

Our conclusion was to take out more money per withdrawal and just carry it in our money belts. Since most fees are added per withdrawal, this approach would make sense, if it wasn’t for the ATM restrictions. Knowing that ATM’s in Central America only allow you to take out a small amount of money per withdrawal, costs tend to rise just too quickly. In the end, for every 200€ withdrawal, we ended up paying 10€ extra on fees and commissions.

During our previous trip, we discovered how much money we lost on withdrawals and decided to research other options. We found two highly rated travel cards that are available to Europeans and did some background checks. Before we left on this trip, we ordered one of both and tried them in real life. This post is a comparison between those two cards. At the bottom, we’ll give you a few other alternatives we didn’t try for our self.

Revolut and N26 travel cards

Revolut and N26 both are travel cards that are accessible for European travelers. Both are expanding their territory and are already available to users outside of the EU. They work in similar ways and they both offer a lot of neat features. Since we tried both cards, we don’t remember why we ever used our credit cards before.

Card options

Revolut

Revolut has a free Standard and a monthly paid Premium plan. The Premium plan offers more features, like express deliveries and overseas medical insurance. If these extra options look interesting to you, better check their website to see what it’s all about. In our comparison, we’ll be talking about the budget option and we use the free card. This card is a Mastercard or Visa Debit card.

N26

N26 has three card options, but they’re not available everywhere. The paid card is currently only available in Ireland and it also includes travel insurance. The regular N26 card is free and that’s exactly the one we will be talking about! This card is also a Mastercard or Visa Debit card. If you want to check out the other card options, have a look at their website.

ATM withdrawal fees

Revolut

Revolut offers free ATM withdrawals ups to 200€ per month. After that, you’ll pay a 2% fee per ATM withdrawal.

N26

In €, N26 offers you 5 free withdrawals per month. After that 2€ per withdrawal. In foreign currencies, N26 charges 2€ plus 1,7% of the amount per withdrawal.

Card Transactions in Shops and stores

Revolut

Card transactions in shops and stores are free worldwide.

N26

Card transactions in shops and stores are free worldwide.

Sending money worldwide

Revolut

You can transfer money to other bank accounts without paying fees.

N26

TransferWise offers free transfers within and among EEA states and currencies.

Exchange rates

Revolut

Revolut offers the Live Market Rate without fees for exchanges up to 6000€. After that, there’s a 0,5% fee added.

N26

Real exchange rates. N26 promises not to charge foreign currency surcharges.

Topping up

Revolut

A Revolut card can be topped up through bank transfer, Android or Apple Pay or automatic top-up when your balance reaches a certain point. Topping up is free. Depending on where your bank is, topping-up can take up to four working days. In our case, it usually takes two days.

N26

You can top-up your N26 card with your regular bank account through a money transfer. Topping up takes two working days.

Security

Revolut

The app is secured with your fingerprint or pin code. You can lock your card through the app in case of theft or loss. The app also gives you instant notifications of withdrawals and payments. If something looks off, you can block it immediately. It’s possible to set spending limits.

N26

The app is secured with your fingerprint or pin code. You can lock your card through the app in case of theft or loss. The app also gives you instant notifications of withdrawals and payments. If something looks off, you can block it immediately. It’s possible to set spending limits.

The apps

Revolut

The Revolut app is fantastic. You will need it to manage your expenses and cards. The app notifies you of expenses immediately. If your friends use Revolut as well, you can easily split bills or transfer money to them.

  • pin or fingerprint lock
  • manage your card
  • spending analytics
  • transfer money
  • expense notification in currency you used 

N26

The N26 app is awesome. You can use the app or check your cards and expenses online with a computer. Sending and receiving money is easy to do with N26 accounts.

  • pin or fingerprint lock
  • manage your card
  • spending analytics
  • transfer money
  • expense notification of your home currency

Signing up

Revolut

Signing up for a Revolut card is easy and secure. You’ll have to scan your identity card with your smartphone to prove your identity. To receive a card, you have to top up your account for 6€ so they can charge the delivery costs.

N26

Signing up for an N26 card is secure. You can visit a post office in Germany or do what we did. We opted for the video call with identity check. A friendly person will call you and ask you some questions. You’ll need to show your identity card or passport and do a few things, like looking into the camera and waving. The call takes about 5 minutes and I thought it was a little funny.

Getting the travel card

Revolut

Getting a Revolut card is free. There is a delivery cost of 6€ however. So you have to top-up your card with the app to get it in the mail.

N26

The N26 card will be sent to your home address after the video ID check is completed. There’s no shipping cost.

The verdict

We’re not going to decide for you! We couldn’t decide which one to chose, so we ordered both. I must admit I like both cards and both apps equally. I’d recommend you just check the differences between the cards above and see which one is better for you and your travel plans. If you’re leaving the EU the cards have different specifications. If you travel a lot, I’d even recommend getting them both and try the different options for yourself. We promised you some alternatives as well. Here they are:

 

Monese is a UK based online bank. It looks quite similar to the banks mentioned above, but we didn’t get a chance to try them.

Pay with Fire is another option. This one looks a little different and seems mostly aimed at Euro and Pound users.

WeSwap is another travel card which is proud of its great exchange rates and travel options. It is mainly for UK based travelers.

Monzo is another UK based bank for UK based travelers which resembles the other cards.