Currensea review – In Brief
Currensea is a way to spend abroad, using the Currensea travel debit card, without the hassle of having to add funds like you would with a prepaid travel card, as it connects directly to your bank account via open banking. They offer good value currency conversion too, so it saves you from costly hidden fees that can come with standard bank cards.
Table Of Contents
Currensea Pros & Cons
- Transfer fees only a small fraction of high street bank charges
- No foreign transaction fees charged
- Just 0.5% FX fees on the free Essentials plan
- 0% FX fees on the paid Premium and Elite plans
- Exchange rates at interbank rate
- Debit card to spend abroad in 180+ currencies
- Withdraw cash FX fee free up to £500 per month
- Access cheaper spending money abroad without a new bank account
- Need to set up another account and have another debit card to carry around
- You will receive less competitive exchange rates if you are on the free account
What is Currensea?
We have all been abroad and taken cash out of our accounts from an ATM. Often, you will be given a choice of whether to take the money as GBP or as foreign currency, and an exchange rate is displayed by your bank. Look closely, and you will see that this foreign exchange rate is pretty bad, and you could be being charged a significant percentage just for the ability to get some foreign funds! And it is not just that, Banks will often charge both transaction fees AND give you a poor exchange rate, so it is a double whammy.
For many years, high street banks have made a pretty penny from these overseas spending fees and poor exchange rates. Luckily for consumers, this has started to change, and nowadays it is easier to avoid being charged these hefty, and often hidden fees whilst travelling, thanks to innovations such as open banking, and products like Currensea.
Currensea aim to make spending abroad not only much cheaper, but more transparent, so you know exactly how much you will be charged for paying with the card or withdrawing cash.
All Currensea customers get a Mastercard debit card. You then link your bank account to your Currensea account via open banking, and then Currensea will take anything you spend on your Currensea card from your main bank account via direct debit. Currensea’s debit card works as a layer inbretween your bank account and your oversears spending. Currensea works with nearly every UK bank account. They are currently connected with 14 of the major banks in the UK, which covers the majority of UK consumers. However, bear in mind that there are some banks that they are not connected to, such as the digital banks Starling Bank and Monzo, so make sure that they support your bank before you sign up.
Users can also download the Currensea app, which allows you to keep track of all of your transactions, and see all of your exchange rates and any fees, which is super transparent.
In addition to the travel card, Currensea also offer a money transfer service, which allows you to transfer between £100 and £20,000 at interbank rates with a fee of 0.5%, which is a competitive rate compared to other money transfer providers.
The Currensea paid plans also provide some other extras that can help when travelling, such as car hire benefits, hotel perks and airport lounge access.
Currensea Costs & Fees
Currensea have added an innovative subscription based pricing system to allow travellers to get foreign exchange rates as low as 0%! The Currensea price plans are:
The Currensea Essential plan has no annual cost, but has the following fees:
- FX rate of 0.5% above interbank rate for card payments and ATM withdrawals
- 0.5% FX rate ATM withdrawals abroad up to £500, with a 2% FX rate for amounts above £500
Currensea Premium costs £25 per year, and the further fees are:
- FX rate of 0% above interbank rate for card payments and ATM withdrawals
- Fee free ATM withdrawals abroad up to £500, with a 1% FX rate for amounts above £500
Currensea Elite costs £120 per year, and the further fees are:
- FX rate of 0% above interbank rate for card payments and ATM withdrawals
- Fee free ATM withdrawals abroad up to £750, with a 1% FX rate for amounts above £500
Hidden Fees and Charges
Currensea say they aim to remove all hidden fees, and state that (unlike some other providers) there are no:
- Weekend charges
- Foreign currency purchase fees
- Dormant card fees
- Non-sterling transaction fees
Is Currensea Safe?
Currensea are regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), which ensures that they are a responsible company. When they connect to your bank account, then use open banking technology, which is a very safe system, and means they never have access to your current account online banking credentials. Currensea don’t hold your money, but rather act as a ‘layer’ between your bank account and your travel spending. As the debit card is a Mastercard, users are covered by the Mastercard purchase protection plan.
Currensea Customer Reviews
Currensea have a pretty impressive rating of 4.9 out of 5 on Trustpilot, from over 6000 reviews. A whopping 92% of the reviews give the maximum rating of 5 out of 5, and the happy customers praise the product for how simple it is to use. They also love how transparent the fees and exchange rates are, which is definitely something the high street banks could learn from!
Currensea Business Account
Currensea also have a business product, which has all of the same competitive exchange rates and transparent fees, and other elements, such as a virtual card, that can assist when running an international business or travelling for work.
Many digital banking providers have options for travel that can be useful. But how do they compare to Currensea?
Starling Bank vs Currensea
Starling Bank, like Currensea, aim for a simple and transparent product, and it is no different with their travel features. Starling Bank customers can take out any amount from an ATM abroad, fee free, so they have that advantage over Currensea if you are withdrawing over £750. However Starling Bank use the Mastercard exchange rate, which will be ever so slightly more expensive than the interbank rate that Currensea uses.
Monzo vs Currensea
Like Starling Bank, Monzo use the Mastercard exchange rate, so will be slightly more expensive than Currensea. Monzo also have fee free ATM withdrawals if you are on a paid plan. However if not, you will be charged 3% if you take out more than £250.
Currensea review – FAQ
Is Currensea a good travel card?
We at Wiseabout.money think so! They have fashioned a simple and cost-effective travel money solution that can save you a packet on high street bank charges and fees.
Generally investors are more likely to make money when long term investing i.e. for at least 5 years, and ideally longer.
Is it cheaper to use cash or card abroad?
It all depends on which bank or travel card you use! With Currensea the cost for cash and card spend is the same, up to a certain limit. Users of the Currensea Essential plan can take up to £500 per month out with no ATM fees.
Currensea Review – Verdict
The simplicity of Currensea is its strength. For far too long banks have been getting away with charging high fees for foreign exchange and spending money abroad. The Currensea debit card is a simple way to avoid all of that, and to use their transparent system to see exactly what your travel money is costing you.
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