The 6 Best Travel Money Cards for Malaysia - 2023
If you’re visiting Malaysia, a specialised travel money card can make it cheaper and more convenient to access Malaysian ringgit for spending and withdrawals. There are various options available, such as travel debit cards, prepaid travel cards, and travel credit cards, which cater to different types of customers. The right one for you will depend on your personal preference and how you like to manage your money.
Read on for all you need to know, including a closer look at travel money card types, some great options to consider, and the sorts of fees you need to think about when you choose.
Wise - our pick for travel debit card for Malaysia
If you’d prefer to switch from CAD to MYR before you travel, so you can see your budget in ringgit more easily, you may struggle to find a Canadian travel card that can help. That’s where the Wise card comes in, as a versatile travel money debit card that can hold and spend MYR, as well as a diverse range of other currencies.
Here are some of the advantages and disadvantages of the Wise travel money debit card, to help you decide if it’s right for you.
Hold and exchange over 50 currencies alongside MYR
No fee to spend any currency you hold, low conversion fees from 0.41%
Mid market exchange rate on all currency conversion
Some fee free ATM withdrawals every month
No ongoing costs and no interest to pay
ATM fees apply once you exceed your plan limits
No option to earn points or rewards
What is a travel money card?
Just like your normal bank card, a travel money card can be used for online and in-store purchases, as well as for cash withdrawals. However, with a travel money card, the features and fees are tailored for global usage. This may mean you get a better exchange rate, or fewer charges, in comparison to using your regular card abroad. Some travel cards - particularly travel credit cards- also offer opportunities to earn cashback and rewards for using your card internationally.
It’s worth noting that there’s not much in the market in Canada for spending in ringgit specifically - so you might find you need to shop around a bit more than you would if you were looking for a travel card for USD or GBP for example. We’ll cover some top options to consider in this guide, to get you started.
6 travel money cards for Malaysia compared
Before we get into each card option in more depth, here’s a summary of how six of the best travel money cards for Malaysia compare to each other.
|Provider||Type||Delivery fee||Malaysia ATM fee||Interest rate||POS fees||Exchange rate|
|Wise||Debit||No fee||Some free withdrawals every month, low fees after that||Not applicable||Free to spend any currency you hold, currency conversion from 0.41%||Mid-market rate|
|Canada Post Cash Passport||Debit||15 CAD card purchase fee||Variable by currency - 1.7 GBP for example||Not applicable||Free to spend any currency you hold, 3.25% to spend a currency you don’t have in your account||Rate set by the card distributor or merchant when topping up|
|BMO Reloadable Mastercard||Purchase card||6.95 CAD annual fee||5 CAD||No interest applied||2.5% foreign transaction fee||2.5% foreign transaction fee|
|Koho Premium Mastercard||Debit||9 CAD monthly fee||Free||Not applicable||No fee||Visa exchange rate|
|HSBC World Elite Mastercard||Credit||149 CAD annual fee||5 CAD||20.99% variable||No fee||Mastercard exchange rate|
|Home Trust Preferred Visa||Credit||No fee||1% to 1.5% (minimum 2.5 CAD to 15 CAD) depending on the ATM type||21.99% variable||No fee||Visa exchange rate|
The features of various travel money cards can differ significantly. Generally, travel debit cards can be convenient and relatively inexpensive to use, while travel credit cards may offer extra benefits such as cashback or rewards. However, they also come with the risk of incurring interest and late payment fees, if you don’t pay off your bill in full every time.
Travel debit cards usually allow you to easily add funds online or via a mobile app, which helps you stick to your budget and avoid overspending. Conversely, travel credit cards enable you to spend up to your credit limit, and you can pay off the balance over several months. Which is best for you will come down to how you like to manage your money - we’ll dive into a few more details about each card type, next.
What are different types of travel cards?
Broadly speaking, Canadian customers can pick a travel money card from either a traditional bank or a specialist provider, from a selection including travel debit cards, travel prepaid cards or travel credit cards. We’ll walk through what each travel money card type is, and pick out a couple of good card options, so you can compare and choose.
1. Travel debit cards
2. Travel prepaid cards
3. Travel credit cards
1. Travel Debit Cards
Specialist providers typically offer travel debit cards, which are accompanied by digital accounts that allow you to top up, hold, and exchange currency balances. Unfortunately, not many cards on offer in Canada support holding MYR - which might mean you pay a foreign transaction fee when you use your card in Malaysia.
That said, even with some fees to consider, travel debit cards usually provide a user-friendly online platform and mobile app for effortless balance top-ups, making it easier to manage your finances no matter where you are in the world.
Travel debit card Option 1: Wise
Wise is our pick for travel money debit card for Malaysia, and the only one of our selection which offers the option to hold and exchange MYR within the account.
There’s no fee to open a Wise account, and no delivery fee for your Wise card, with no minimum balance and no monthly charge. You just pay low Wise fees from 0.41% when you convert currencies, and transparent ATM fees when you exhaust the monthly free withdrawals available with your account.
No fee to open a Wise account, no minimum balance requirement
No fee to get your Wise card, free to spend any currency you hold
2 withdrawals, to 350 CAD value per month for free, then 1.5 CAD + 1.75%
Hold MYR and 50+ other currencies, convert between them with the mid-market rate
Get local account details to receive CAD, USD and 7 other currencies for free
Travel debit card Option 2: Canada Post Cash Passport
You can pick up a Canada Post Cash Passport in your local Post Office, and top up your account in CAD. You can then switch your balance to any of the 7 supported major currencies. Unfortunately, MYR is not supported by this card, which means there’s a foreign exchange fee of 3.25% when you spend with this card in Malaysia. You can use your Canada Post Cash Passport card in ATMs and wherever the network is supported. ATM fees apply which vary by currency.
Supports 7 major currencies, not including MYR
3.25% foreign transaction fee to spend where currencies are not supported
Variable ATM fee
1.5% fee for using your card in Canada - plus any applicable fee to convert funds back to CAD if you hold a foreign currency
Pros and cons of using debit travel cards in Malaysia
Avoid interest costs and late payment fees
Hold and exchange currencies in advance or at the time of spending
Accounts can be topped up, viewed and managed using just your phone
Safe to use, as accounts aren’t linked to your main Canadian bank account
Travel debit cards are issued on popular global payment networks
Transaction and currency conversion fees may apply
Cash back and rewards may not be available
How to choose the best travel debit card for Malaysia?
Choosing the best travel debit card for Malaysia depends on your personal preferences and financial management style. If you travel often - and not just to Malaysia - it's smart to consider an account that offers mid-market currency exchange rates and a wide selection of supported currencies, including MYR, like Wise. Canada Post also offers the Cash Passport - this card doesn’t support MYR for holding or exchange, but can be conveniently collected in your local Post Office, and as it’s not linked to your main CAD account will still add some extra security to your overseas spending.
Is there a spending limit with a travel debit card in Malaysia?
Each card provider sets their own limits for card usage, which can differ based on the type of transaction. These limits may be imposed on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis. For example, there could be a restriction on the number or value of ATM withdrawals allowed per day or a cap on the value of contactless payments you can make. These limits are in place for security purposes and can usually be adjusted through the provider's app.
2. Prepaid Travel Cards
With a prepaid travel card you’ll usually need to first order a card and then add funds in CAD from your bank account or card. Once you have a balance you can then pay merchants and make cash withdrawals at home and abroad. While prepaid travel cards are usually issued on large global networks - and can therefore be used pretty widely - you may find you pay a foreign transaction fee when overseas, depending on the specific card you select.
Prepaid travel card option 1: BMO Reloadable Mastercard
The BMO Reloadable Mastercard can be topped up in CAD and used when you travel in Malaysia. You’ll pay a 2.5% foreign transaction fee when overseas, but you’ll still have the advantage that - as with other prepaid and travel cards - this card is not linked to your primary bank account, so it can increase security when spending abroad. There’s a 6.95 CAD annual fee, but as this is a purchase card rather than a credit card, there’s no interest to worry about. You just top up and you can spend up to your account balance freely.
6.95 CAD annual fee, 2.5% foreign transaction fee
5 CAD ATM fee
No interest to worry about
Manage your card online or using your phone, to top up and view balance
Add funds from BMO or other Canadian banks directly
Prepaid travel card option 2: Koho Premium Mastercard
You can get up to 2% cash back with the Koho Premium Mastercard, and there’s no foreign transaction fee to worry about. Instead, you pay a monthly card fee of 9 CAD. The basic card is free to get, or you can upgrade to a Koho metal card for 159 CAD if you want a fancier way to pay when you’re at home and abroad.
9 CAD/month premium fee
No foreign transaction fee
No ATM fee
Earn cash back on your spending
Pros and cons of using prepaid travel cards in Malaysia
Manage your account, add more money or convert funds online or with an app
Accounts with no monthly fees are available
Issued on globally popular networks for good coverage
ATM withdrawals supported globally
Some accounts have extras like options to earn cash back or reward points
Typically only CAD supported - watch out for foreign transaction charges
Transaction fees apply to most accounts
How to choose the best travel prepaid card for Malaysia?
There’s no single best travel prepaid card for Malaysia - it’ll come down to your personal preference. If you don’t mind paying a monthly fee you might like the Koho Premium card which waives foreign transaction fees, and other charges like ATM withdrawal fees. Otherwise, if you just want a simple prepaid card and don’t mind the foreign transaction fee when you’re in Malaysia, the BMO prepaid card might suit you.
Is there a spending limit with a prepaid card in Malaysia?
Spending and withdrawal limits on prepaid travel cards can vary based on the card provider and currency. Carefully examine the terms and conditions of each provider you are considering, to make sure you pick a card that suits your specific needs and preferences, giving you peace of mind.
3. Travel Credit Cards
Travel credit cards often come with additional benefits not found in regular credit cards. These benefits can include lower or no fees for foreign transactions and the chance to earn extra rewards when using the card abroad. While travel credit cards offer safety and convenience, it's worth noting that they may be more expensive than using a debit card.
Before choosing a travel credit card, it's essential to consider factors such as fees, rates, eligibility criteria, and interest rates. Take the time to compare different options and select the one that suits you best.
Travel credit card option 1: HSBC World Elite Mastercard
The HSBC World Elite Mastercard has been optimised for overseas use, with extra rewards on international spending and travel, plus no foreign transaction fees to pay. There are lots of ways to earn rewards, including variable new customer bonus offers - the downside is that there’s an annual fee of 149 CAD, so you’ll need to check if the benefits outweigh the costs. As with any other credit card, you’ll also need to pay off your bill in full every month to avoid interest charges.
149 CAD annual fee, 5 CAD ATM withdrawal fee
Variable interest rate
No foreign transaction fee
Options to earn rewards, including enhanced benefits for travel spending
Travel credit card option 2: Home Trust Preferred Visa Card
The Home Trust Preferred Visa Card is a credit card with a variable interest rate, no foreign exchange fees and 1% cash back on all eligible purchases. There’s no annual fee to pay, although the ATM withdrawal fees can run pretty high - 1% or 1.5% depending on the ATM type, and the maximum cap is 15 CAD for some withdrawals.
No annual fee, no foreign transaction fee
1% cash back on all eligible purchases
Variable interest rate
ATM fees apply, which are set as a percentage, and can run pretty high
Pros and cons of using credit cards in Malaysia
Enjoy peace of mind with zero liability policies offered by some cards
Spread the cost of your travel expenses over several months
Some cards have no foreign transaction fees, saving you money on international purchases
Exchange rates typically offered by card networks are usually fair
Earn cash back and rewards on your spending with select cards, making your travel even more rewarding.
Interest charged if you don’t repay in full every month
Eligibility rules apply
How to choose the best travel credit card for Malaysia?
Selecting the best travel credit card for Malaysia largely depends on individual preferences. If you aim to earn rewards and cashback on your foreign transactions, the Home Trust Preferred Visa may be a suitable option as it does not have a foreign transaction fee and provides cash back on all purchases. Whichever card you’re considering you’ll want to weigh up the potential fees you’ll need to pay against the rewards you can earn to make sure it’s worthwhile.
If you regularly travel to Malaysia or further afield, getting a travel money card which supports the currencies you need frequently can help you save money. Travel money cards have different features, and can be picked up via regular banks, online specialists and even the Post Office.
You could opt for a low cost travel debit card which comes with a linked account to hold a selection of currencies including MYR - like the Wise account. Or you might prefer a prepaid travel money card like the Koho Premium Mastercard which has monthly fees in exchange for features like no foreign transaction charges - handy if you use it abroad often. Finally, another option is to get a travel credit card either to earn cashback and rewards, or to avoid foreign transaction fees.
The good news is that the Canadian market is well served for all types of travel money cards - use this guide to start your research and pick the right option for your specific needs.
FAQ - Best travel cards for Malaysia
You can usually make cash withdrawals with a credit card in Malaysia at any ATM that supports your card network. You’ll often find that a fee applies, and you may start to accumulate interest on the withdrawn amount immediately. Travel money debit cards from providers like Wise and Canada Post can be a lower cost option for cash withdrawals overseas.
You can use your debit card anywhere you see the card network’s logo displayed. Visa and Mastercard networks are very well supported globally, including in Malaysia, making these good options to look out for when you pick your travel debit card for Malaysia.
Prepaid cards from reputable providers are safe to use at home and abroad. They aren’t linked to your main bank account which can offer extra peace of mind, and may also make it easier to manage your travel budget. However, you’ll need to check the card features and fees carefully to make sure you're getting the best match for your needs.