Those who need to transfer money between countries and currencies are always looking for the best combination of speed, fees, and competitive exchange rates.
Unfortunately, these attributes rarely appear in the same package. Case in point: The Wise Debit Card is an innovative product that offers some of the fastest transfers available, but at the expense of significant fees. However, the fees can be worth it if you need the speed or if your typical transaction is large enough to keep fees low as a percentage of the total transaction value.
Take a few minutes to learn what the Wise debit card can do for you and whether it’s the best choice for your international money management needs.
What Is the Wise Debit Card?
The Wise debit card is marketed as an international debit card that offers speedy transactions.
There are no foreign transaction fees, and you can hold over 40 currencies in your Wise account.
Wise makes it easy to send money abroad. Fees vary by currency but start at 0.43% for the most common ones, like the U.S. dollar (USD) and euro (EUR). It is free to receive money from ten currencies (AUD, CAD, EUR, GBP, HUF, HZD, RON, SGD, TRY and USD). Receiving USD wire payments cost $4.14 per payment.
The first $100 USD per month per account to withdraw is free, for two or fewer withdrawals per month. For withdraws over $100 USD per month per account, you pay a 2% withdrawal fee plus $1.50 per withdrawal.
There is also a 2% account funding transaction fee, which applies to transactions that include topping up e-wallets and other accounts in certain currencies. Wise touts its “simple” fee schedule, but the details can get confusing, so be sure to understand how much each type of transaction or card activity costs ahead of time.
The Wise debit card is compatible with Google Pay and Apple Pay with this card, reducing friction around online payments. Other than a one-time fee of $9 when you sign up, there are no monthly or annual carrying costs.
What Sets the Wise Debit Card Apart?
This card has several features that help it distinguish itself from other debit cards in its category.
- Free to receive money from ten currencies. It is free to receive money from ten currencies (AUD, CAD, EUR, GBP, HUF, HZD, RON, SGD, TRY and USD).
- Two free monthly ATM withdrawals. You get two free ATM withdrawals per month, on less than $100 USD per month. After that, you will pay a 2% withdrawal fee plus $1.50 per withdrawal.
- No foreign transaction fees. This card charges no foreign transaction fees on purchases with international merchants, whether online or in-person. That’s very helpful for users who regularly spend time abroad.
- Interest on eligible USD balances. This card pays an impressive interest rate on eligible dollar-denominated balances (currently 4.33% APY on all balances, but subject to change).
Key Features of the Wise Debit Card
The Wise debit card offers two free ATM withdrawals per month and no monthly or annual subscription fees, though it has plenty of other fees. Interest on eligible balances is a nice touch.
There is no current sign-up bonus for this card. Check back for the latest offers.
Earning & Redeeming Rewards
This card doesn’t earn rewards. However, it does offer the opportunity to earn interest at a competitive rate.
You can earn interest on your eligible USD balances (up to $250,000) with Wise’s interest feature, which houses your funds with FDIC-insured partner banks.
The rate is subject to change with prevailing interest rates and partner bank policies but is quite competitive by checking account standards. It’s currently 4.33% APY on all balances.
The Wise debit card has a lot of fees that you’ll want to understand before you begin using it. Highlights include:
- ATM withdrawal fees. The first $100 USD per month per account to withdraw is free, for two or less withdrawals per month. For withdraws over $100 USD per month per account, you pay a 2% withdrawal fee plus $1.50 per withdrawal.
- Account funding fee. There is also a 2% account funding transaction fee, which applies to transactions that include topping up e-wallets and other accounts in certain currencies.
- Money transfer fees. It is free to receive money from ten currencies (AUD, CAD, EUR, GBP, HUF, HZD, RON, SGD, TRY and USD). Receiving USD wire payments cost $4.14 per payment. Fees to send money vary by currency, starting at 0.43%.
- Sign-up fee. The card also costs $9 to get. That’s a one-time fee paid when you sign up.
On the bright side, there are no monthly or annual subscription fees for holding the card. Exchange rates vary by currency but are among the best in the business.
Since this is a debit card, there isn’t a minimum credit required for this card.
Pros & Cons
The Wise Debit Card has a few distinct advantages over its competitors in the currency exchange market — and some drawbacks too.
- Multiple money transfer options
- Fast transfers for many currencies
- Highly competitive exchange rates
- Potentially high fees
- Slow conversions for less common currencies
- Limited customer support
The Wise debit card is a great choice for people who regularly need to send or receive money internationally.
- Multiple options for sending money. With Wise, you can access money from your account with a debit card, at an ATM, and through wire transfers. You can also transfer money between Wise accounts or connected bank accounts, which gives you plenty of options.
- Fast transfers. Transfers to some currencies can be instant, while others take longer. But in general, Wise is faster than many of the alternatives.
- Competitive exchange rates. Visit the currency exchanges at an international airport, and you’ll quickly learn what a bad exchange rate looks like. But Wise is different, as it offers highly competitive exchange rates.
The Wise Debit Card has a few disadvantages, but they’re relatively easy to suss out (at least compared to similar products).
- Significant fees. The fees can be higher than many competitors. They include a one-time fee of $9 for the debit card, a $1.50 fee for each withdrawal after your second one each month, and a 2% fee on ATM withdrawals over $100. There’s also a 0.43% fee for converting money, which varies by currency, and a $4.14 fee for receiving wire payments.
- Some conversions are faster than others. There are some that are instant, and others that take a few days. So it all depends on which currencies you are using.
- Little support. I’ve read reports that it’s hard to get a hold of someone at Wise. That’s typical these days, but when you have an issue involving money, you expect a higher level of support.
How the Wise Debit Card Stacks Up
This card’s closest competitor is probably the Chime debit card. Here’s how the two cards compare.
|Wise Debit Card
|Chime Debit Card
|Foreign Transaction Fee
|Other Transaction Fees
These two cards are very similar. Wise falls short on the sign-up fee but pulls ahead on the general competitiveness of its other fees, which is probably a bigger motivator for would-be users.
The Wise Debit Card is a unique product that promises unprecedented speed and flexibility when transferring money between countries and currencies. But it’s not magic, and you should expect to pay a few more fees than you would with other types of money transfers. That said, if your top priorities are speed, flexibility, and/or low exchange rates, then you should certainly take a closer look at the Wise Debit Card.