In a nutshell
Saving money on holidays? Yes please. With Currensea you could save anywhere from 85% to 100% of your bank fees when spending in foreign currencies, while still using your same bank account. How good is that? We think it’s an essential for all holidays. 5 stars from us.
cracked open 🥥
Whenever you’ve been on holiday, how did you pay for your shopping and those fancy meals out? Did you exchange your cash at the airport? Maybe you just paid with your bank card?
Well, say goodbye to those options, and their expensive (sometimes hidden) fees! With the Currensea card you can use it wherever you are in the world. They’ll convert what you spend into Pounds and then take this from your bank account.
This means you’re paying in a foreign currency, but being charged in Pounds. So there’s no bank fees at all, it’s almost exactly the same as spending money in the UK.
Too good to be true? Well, you will pay a foreign exchange fee on their free plan, but it’s one of the cheapest out there at 0.50%, and 0% on the paid plans (more on pricing later). So, whichever plan you choose, even the free one, it’s at least an 85% saving vs using your bank. Sounds pretty great right?
Plus, you don’t need to top-up a prepaid card, or create a new bank account, it’s all still linked to your existing bank account.
It works with a free card, and that’s connected to an app on your phone, on both Apple and Android – with an awesome rating of 4.9 out of 5 on the Apple app store!
We’ll run through how it works a bit more below – but in summary, it appears to be the cheapest way of spending abroad you can get.
Heard enough already and keen to get started? Here’s the Currensea website¹.
How Currensea works
So how does it actually work?
It’s a bit different to everything else out there at the moment.
You’ll get a card (a Mastercard), which is a debit card (that means payments come out of your bank account rather than borrowing money from the bank, like you would with a credit card).
The Currensea debit card works in the same way as any other debit card. You use it to buy stuff and the money you spend will come out of your current bank account. The only difference is, you’re spending in a foreign currency abroad. Pretty cool right?
Think of it as a bank card for when you’re away from home. Plus, you can even withdraw cash from an ATM.
You can also transfer money abroad into a foreign currency too (such as sending money to your family abroad).
Money comes out of your bank account because a direct debit is set up, that’s when you agree to payments coming out of your account, just like you do with your household bills.
Why is that so good then?
Well, if you did use your existing card to spend abroad, you could be paying some pretty hefty fees (and they could be hidden fees). Your current bank could first charge a fee for every time you use your card and spend in a different currency, plus a fee to convert the currency at a very unfavourable exchange rate (the cost to swap one currency to another).
Your bank does not have your best interests at heart when it comes to spending, if they see an opportunity to charge fees, they’ll definitely take it!
With Currensea, it’s the lowest exchange rate you can get, and there’s no additional fees. You could save at least 85% vs your bank. And if you upgraded to a paid plan, there’s no exchange rate fees at all! (We’ll cover pricing in a moment).
You’ll need a smartphone to use Currensea, and everything is managed on their app. Not that there's much to manage! It just gives you a view of where and what you are spending and if you want to set any limits, and things like that.
By the way, it works in every country in the world – that’s all 180 currencies.
When you use your card, you also get all the protection you normally would from Mastercard. That comes in the form of a ‘chargeback’ – which is where you can get your money back when you pay for something and you are being refused a refund, or didn’t get the product or service you paid for.
It’s pretty common, and works – Currensea will handle everything for you. You can learn more about this on the MoneySavingExpert website.
How much is Currensea?
There’s 3 plans with Currensea, a free one, and 2 paid plans. Let’s take a look at the key costs of each:
By the way, there’s no hidden fees at all. These are the only fees you’ll pay.
Essential (free plan)
- 0.5% exchange rate fee
- Free ATM withdrawals up to £500 per month (and then 2% exchange rate)
- 0.5% money transfer fee
Premium (£25 per year)
- 0% exchange rate fee
- Free ATM withdrawals up to £500 per month (and then 1% exchange rate)
- 0.5% money transfer fee
You also get more benefits such as rewards on car hire, and free nights in hotels that Currensea partners with.
Elite (£125 per year)
- 0% exchange rate fee
- Free ATM withdrawals up to £750 per month (and then 1% exchange rate)
- 0.5% money transfer fee
You also get all of the benefits of premium, plus a concierge service (which is where someone handles things for you, like trips or just tips on where to go when on holiday).
Plus, you’ll get access to airport lounges – this is probably worth the fee alone!
And there’s also more benefits and perks around for hotels and resorts, such as free breakfast and room upgrades.
Learn more about pricing and all the different features on the Currensea website¹.
Currensea business account
You can also use Currensea for your business. So, you can remove all of your foreign exchange bank charges completely when spending abroad or in foreign currencies.
For instance, it’s pretty great for buying subscription software that’s often in another currency (such as Dollars). You’ll be paying your bank a fee every time you are charged for your subscription. With Currensea, you can reduce that fee to £0, and still keep the payment within your bank account.
You’ll also be able to create virtual cards too, for that extra security when purchasing online.
If you’re self-employed, a contractor, or freelancer, you can get a business account too.
Business account information is quite hard to find on the Currensea website, so if you want to learn more, here's the business account¹ info.
The customer support is good.
There’s a big help centre, which pretty much answers every question you might have. There’s also an option to ask a question, and they’ll get back to you via email.
There’s no phone number, and no live-chat (speaking to someone on their website), but there is a ‘chat-bot’, which can help find the answers to your questions.
Is Currensea safe?
Yep! Alongside the payment protection you get with Mastercard. Currensea is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). That means they’ve been reviewed and approved to handle your money.
Currensea customer reviews
Customers love it.
On the popular reviews website, Trustpilot, it has an excellent score of 4.9 out of 5, from over 4,500 reviews. That’s amazing in any industry, but especially financial services, where reviews are often very bad thanks to poor customer service.
Almost all of the reviews for Currensea are 5 stars – well who doesn’t want to save money? They often mention the money saving and how easy it is to use.
How does it compare?
More modern banks have begun to offer travel services too. We’re not talking about your regular high street banks, we’re talking about Monzo, Starling Bank and Revolut. (And Monese, but they’re not quite a bank).
You might not be familiar with these banks, but they are becoming quite popular, thanks to all your banking being done via an app on your phone.
We don’t suggest signing up with another bank just for your holiday spending – but if you’re already a customer with these banks, then there might not be much saving in it (the big saving with Currensea is vs the major high street banks).
Revolut uses the interbank exchange rate to figure out their exchange fees, that’s the wholesale price of currencies, which is cheaper than the Mastercard rate, which both Monzo and Starling Bank use, but not by much. However, at the weekend this increases to effectively the same cost as the Mastercard rate. This is pretty much the same as what you would pay with Currensea.
You can withdraw £200 per month for free. After that it’s 2% per withdrawal, and a minimum of £1. Curresea allows £500 on the free plan.
Monzo uses Mastercard’s exchange rate for foreign transactions, slightly more than Currensea, depending on the actual currency used, but there's not much in it.
If Monzo is your main bank account, or you’re on a paid plan, you can withdraw as much cash as you like, if not you’ll have to pay 3% if you withdraw over £250 in 30 days, that’s fairly hefty, and more than Curresea.
With Starling Bank, there’s no fees to spend in another country, or currency, but you will pay the exchange rate set by Mastercard, which can be slightly more than the exchange rate Currensea uses, but not by much.
And you won’t be charged for withdrawing cash, that’s pretty good, and better than Currensea if you are withdrawing more than £750.
There’s also Monese, who aren’t quite a bank, but allow you to make payments in different currencies in Europe (Euro’s mainly).
If you don’t use Monese currently, it’s not worth signing up just for your holidays, but if you use it already, it’s probably worth sticking with them if you’re visiting a country that uses Euros. If you’re on a paid plan, you can convert your money to Euros on the app, and then not pay any spending fees!
Currensea pros and cons
Let’s run through the pros and cons of Currensea:
- Save between 85% and 100% on bank fees
- Links directly to your existing bank account (works with all major banks)
- Spend abroad like a local with a debit card (and free card delivery)
- 0% exchange rate fee on paid plans
- 0.50% exchange rate fee on the free plan (very low)
- Uses the best exchange rate (interbank rate)
- Cash withdrawals free up to £500
- Works with all 180 currencies
- Great customer service
- Safe and secure
- Need to get a paid plan to get 0% exchange rate fees (we can’t have it all can we! Plus it’s only £25 per year)
- Not much else!
We love Currensea. It’s a great idea to save money when travelling abroad, or just making payments in another currency.
We’re big fans of reducing bank fees – they’ve had it good for too long! Charging high fees for pretty much everything (these fees are often hidden too). With Currensea, you can reduce their fees to £0 (on a paid plan). That’s an incredible saving. And on the free plan, it’s one of the cheapest foreign exchange fees you’ll find.
The customer service is good, and customers love it. The cost of a paid plan is pretty reasonable, and you’ll most likely save a lot more than you spend if you’re making more than just a few transactions abroad or in foreign currencies.
The business account option is pretty great too, being able to use Currensea to purchase software subscriptions in other currencies. Those little fees do add up every month!
There’s one thing to note, if you’re with a more modern bank, such as Starling Bank, Monzo, Revolut, or you use Monese, it’s probably not worth using Currensea unless you are travelling often, or spending foreign currencies often.
Overall, we think it’s great. And a big 5 stars from us. Learn more and get started on the Currensea website¹.