Forex and the Best Travel Money Cards: Part Three – The Best Debit Card

A five part series on travel money and the best Debit and Credit card options; see Introduction for links and description for all parts as they become live..
Part One: Forex Basics
Part Two: Pre-Load Travel Card Vs. Debit Card for Cash
Part Three: The Best Debit Card (for Travel and Forex Spend)
Part Four: The Best Credit Card (for Travel and Forex spend)
Part Five: Travel Spend Strategy
By now you should have already read the Disclaimer on the Introduction page, but if not then please read it now.

Best Debit Cards for Travel or Forex Spend

First Published: 17 July 2018

So the top three Debit cards for travel or Forex spend are;

3. Citibank Plus Everyday Account (with Visa Debit)

This is the stalwart of travel debit cards and I’ve had one as long I can remember. It’s a basic card with some limited featured but most important (and essential for it to make this list) it’s NO FEES – for ANYTHING (third party ATM fees may apply outside of the product offering, see below). Also critically Forex is converted by Visa at the Visa wholesale rate (which as I’ll explain in part two is the best rate you can get).

As it’s a debit card it wont affect your credit rating (you don’t even need to supply a TFN), and being no fees you can get one and park it until needed. Then load up and go, with anything remaining transferred back to your main account (if this isn’t it).

Until recently this was the number one card and had been for a very long time, for the no fee option Citi just hasn’t kept up with competition. It still however maintains part of my overall spend strategy (see the end below).

Unordinary (plus)

  • No fees (as at date of publication for this post) excluding third party ATM fees outside of Citi’ control.
    • Note Citi is a world bank and you can find ATMs in most countries, particularly North America; in the USA just walking into a 711. Everywhere else their ATM finder is actually pretty good, and notwithstanding I’ve most always been able to avoid foreign merchant fees with a little shopping around.
  • Forex transactions at Visa wholesale rate (cheapest you can get).
  • A few card perks such as The Citibank dining program and a few others, but these are why you should choose a card for Forex spend. They just might help add some value.

Ordinary (minus)

  • No travel card option so if you want to lock in a rate with this card you can’t.
    • Note Citi does offer a Hybrid card as per the HSBC Global Everyday (see next), but for that (Citi) product its $8 a month, so forget about it!.
  • If you do have to pay a third party ATM fee there is no reimbursement on fee (see ING Orange Everyday Account at number one).

Citibank Plus Everyday Account – Read more or apply online.

2. HSBC Global Everyday Account

This is really a great card and my advice is sign up now as even if you don’t want one, yet, HSBC tend to offer some really great products at no cost and with great features to get market share and then fees come in for new customers (my HSBC no annual fee for life Visa Platinum rewards for example). But right now, as at time of publication this is a fee free card offering the best of both worlds. So just get one.

So what’s different about this card? It’s both a Visa Debit card BUT also a pre-loadable Travel card. So if you really do want the option to lock in a rate for any of the 10 eligible currencies on this card you can. And as far as travel cards go HSBC rates are market leading (not the best, that award lies with Citi but the difference is so small the $8 fee of Citi’ product means that card just doesn’t make the list). Most importantly however if you don’t want to lock in a currency and just take the Visa rate at time of transaction you can do that do. Which incidentally is what I do (see Part Two for why)

With no fees (except possible third party ATM fees), good rates on the pre-load conversion and spot rates processed by Visa it’s easily the best hybrid travel card. Note that the Citi rates for pre-loading currency on their global travel card are slightly better, but they charge $8 a month for the privilege for that card (not not the one making it in at number three here). But do the math and the choice is yours, for me tho this is it.

Travel Card Feature

I better briefly explain how this works;

  1. You transfer money to your HSBC Everyday Global Account (via BPAY, direct Transfer, etc).
  2. That ends up in you account in AUD.
  3. You can then, if you chose, transfer AUD funds to any of the other 10 currencies available (see product details below for more information) at the advertised rates.
  4. If you make a purchase/withdrawal in a non AUD currency it will first look to the balance of that currency. If none then it will process at the Visa rate, or use what is available in that currency and then process at the Visa rate.
  • Any questions just leave a comment and I’ll be happy to help out.

HSBC Global Everyday – Find out more or apply online here.

Unordinary (plus)

  • No fees (as at date of publication for this post) excluding third party ATM fees outside of HSBC control.
    • Note HSBC (Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Group) is a world bank and you can find ATMs in most countries, particularly Asia and further most Asian banks wont charge a third party fee.
  • Forex transactions at Visa wholesale rate (cheapest you can get).
  • Travel card option on the one card.

Ordinary (minus)

  • If you do have to pay a third party ATM fee there is no reimbursement (see ING Orange Everyday Account at number one).
  • In my experience Travel card (pre-load) rates from HSBC, whilst market leading are not the best. But the difference to Citi rates (the best) are so small it’s not worth considering unless your spending enough to offset the Citi $8p/m fee.

1. ING Orange Everyday

This is a truely Unordinary card.

Its doesn’t have a Travel card option to pre-load currency but so long as you meet the criteria for any month, on the following month they will reimburse (immediately) any third-party ATM fees. And the catch criteria is so easy that frankly its a no brainer. And if you don’t meet the criteria, just don’t use the card. (See below for more details). Literally this card has saved me over $20 in one week alone!!

THIS CARD IS A GAME CHANGES BUT IT WONT LAST! And right now we can both get $25 for signing up to this card. As I’ll explain below. How good is that?

Until this card I’ve always walked a fine line between withdrawing just enough to get by (particularly if you can’t find fee-free ATM withdrawals) and not getting out too much cash such that the hard-currency border exchange doesn’t leave you bald (see Part One).


Forget about it. If I need at five I get a five. This card is actually so good it’s now my genuine Everyday card and I would get one now (if I didn’t already have it).

Unordinary (plus)

  • No fees (as at date of publication for this post) of ANY kind once you factor in third-part ATM fee rebates (once you meet the criteria).
  • Forex transactions at Visa wholesale rate (cheapest you can get).
    • Anything else would be just icing, but frankly you need nothing more.

Ordinary (minus)

  • No pre-load travel card option (but in my option hardly a negative).
  • Must meet minimum criteria each month to unlock fee rebates next month (see next).

ATM Rebate Criteria

For ING to (immediately) rebate your account with any third-party ATM fees you need to deposited at least $1000 into your account and make at least five eligible EFTPOS transactions (read purchases).

But this is soo easy; think five coffees a month via tap-and-go, or as I do (or did when I had a home), for my weekly shopping at the self-serve (yes I agree) the last few items get the ING Orange Everyday tap-and-go for payment. Or if its the 30th of the month a bunch of bananas gets paid for by the ‘Nan….

I’m going to say is this deal wont last and I’m already seeing the minimum criteria for the ATM rebates get progressively worse since I applied for mine so my advice is sign up now.

The end

This ends the top three travel or forex spend debit cards and I’d love to hear your thoughts.

My personal recommendation would be go ahead and get all three. They won’t cost you a cent, won’t affect your credit rating and frankly the deal on all three can only get worse.

Personally, I HAVE all three; and if your travelling you need at least two (or in your group at least two as I’ll cover in Part five).

  1. ING Orange IS my everyday card, ANYWHERE is the world.
  2. HSBC GLOBAL IS my backup card (that is never in that same bag as card (1), but comes with me ANYWHERE in the world).
  3. Citi Plus NOW lives with the man I respect most in the world, and in the event (1) or (2) are lost this card is sent to me whilst either ING or HSBC issue and send me a replacement (to ANYWHERE in the world).

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *