How to use a Wise card abroad: A Full Guide 2024
With a Wise account you can hold and exchange 50+ currencies, send money to 70+ countries, and switch between currencies using the mid-market exchange rate every time. Plus, if you order a linked Wise card you can spend and withdraw cash in 170+ countries, making it easy to travel or shop online with international retailers.
Ready to get started? We’ll look at how to use a Wise card overseas, the fees, limits and some tips to save money. Here’s a heads up on what we’ll cover in this full guide to using the Wise card abroad:
Table of contents
How to use a Wise card overseas
You can use your Wise card to spend and withdraw money overseas in exactly the same way you use your regular card here in Canada. Wise cards are contactless and can be added to mobile wallets like Apple Pay and Google Pay, for fast and convenient payments wherever you are. Plus, there’s no fee to spend any currency you hold in your account, and the card can automatically switch your balance to the currency you need with low fees from 0.41%.
Here’s a look at how you can use your Wise card overseas:
Hold 50+ currencies and spend any balance you hold for free
Withdraw up to 350 CAD a month fee free, with low fees after that
Allow the card to convert to the currency you need for the lowest available fee
Get instant transaction notifications and manage your card in the Wise app
Choose from a selection of free and low cost methods to top-up your Wise account and card
Your Wise card is designed with international use in mind, so there’s no need to notify Wise you intend to travel. Use your Wise card easily for in-store purchases as well as withdrawals and online shopping in 170+ countries.
About the Wise card
The Wise card is an international debit card linked to a digital multi-currency Wise account. It’s free to open a personal Wise account and you can get set up from your phone or laptop easily. Once you’ve registered for a Wise account, simply order your Wise card for delivery to your home address within around 14 working days.
Once you’ve got your Wise card up and running you’ll be able to access the following handy travel features:
Spend and withdraw in 170+ countries and hold 50+ currencies
No fees to spend any currency you hold in your account
Currency conversion from 0.41% when you spend or withdraw with your Wise card
Top up your account in dollars and convert to the currency you need using the mid-market rate
Read also: Wise card review
How does the Wise card work?
The Wise card is a debit card linked to a multi-currency Wise account. You can top up your Wise account in dollars or the currency of your choice, and convert to the currency you need for international spending - or just let the card do the conversion for you, with the mid-market rate and low fees.
You can spend and make withdrawals with your Wise card in 170+ countries, and shop online with international retailers easily. We’ll look at how spending and withdrawals with your Wise card work in more detail a little later, including the fees and limits that apply to your Wise account and card. It’s also worth noting upfront that Wise cards can’t be used for local ATM withdrawals here in Canada.
Read more: How to get a Wise card: the step-by-step guide
Fees for using a Wise card abroad
There’s no fee to get your Wise card, plus no monthly or annual fees.
Top up your Wise account with dollars or any of the other supported currencies, and convert to the currency you need for spending. There’s no fee to spend any currency you hold in your Wise account - and if you don’t have a balance in the right currency your Wise card can automatically convert for you, with a small conversion fee and the mid-market exchange rate.
Here’s a rundown of the key Wise card fees to know about. We’ll cover ATM cash withdrawals, fees and limits in more detail a little later on.
|Wise card fee
|Order a Wise card
|Spend a currency you hold
|Spend in a currency you don’t hold
|Currency conversion fees from 0.41%
2 withdrawals, to the value of 350 CAD a month fee free
After that a fee of 1.5 CAD + 1.75% of the withdrawal value applies
|Order a replacement card
No fee to replace an expiring card
5 CAD for a replacement at any other time
Does the Wise card have foreign transaction fees?
There are no foreign transaction fees when you spend with a Wise card. You can spend any currency you hold in your account for free.
If you don’t have a balance in the currency you need - or if your balance isn’t enough - the Wise card uses smart conversion technology to convert your balance from the currency which charges the lowest possible fee, using the mid-market exchange rate. Wise currency conversion fees vary but can be as low as 0.41%.
How does my Wise card know which currency to use?
You can spend with your Wise card even if you don’t have money in the currency you need. Your Wise card will simply convert the amount needed from the currency balance you hold which offers the lowest available fee. This applies if you don’t hold a balance in the currency needed, or if you don’t hold enough for the transaction in the required currency.
The good news is that this means you’ll always pay the lowest available fee, and you don’t need to convert funds in advance if you’re traveling or spending overseas.
What if I spend money in a currency that I don’t have in my account?
You’ll be able to top up your Wise account in dollars or a selection of other currencies, and then convert to any of the supported 50+ holding currencies in the Wise app. But what if you don’t hold a balance in the currency you need when you spend with your Wise card? In this case, the Wise card will do the hard work for you and switch what’s needed from the currency balance which has the lowest available fee.
Here are some examples of how the Wise auto convert technology can work:
You hold 200 euros in your account and want to make a purchase that costs 100 euros - in this case, the 100 euros will be deducted from your euro balance, with no fee to pay
You want to make a purchase that costs 100 euros but you don’t have a euro balance in your Wise account - in this case, the Wise card will convert from your available funds, with a conversion fee from 0.41%. Conversion fees do vary, but the card will pick the balance which offers the lowest available fee at the time of the transaction
You hold 50 euros in your account and want to make a purchase that costs 100 euros - in this case, the 50 euros will be deducted from your euro balance, with no fee to pay, and the remaining amount will be converted from your available funds, with a variable conversion fee from 0.41%
How to withdraw money abroad with a Wise card
You can make convenient ATM withdrawals all over the world using your Wise card. However, it’s helpful to know that you can’t use your Wise card here in Canada to make withdrawals.
Here’s how to withdraw money abroad with a Wise card:
Find a convenient ATM which supports the network your Wise card is issued on (Visa or MasterCard)
Insert your card and select the option to make a withdrawal
Enter the amount you want to withdraw
Enter your PIN for security
Your money will be dispensed and your card will be returned
|💡 Key point:
Wise ATM withdrawal limits
There are Wise card withdrawal limits which apply whenever you use your Wise card to take cash from an ATM. Wise limits are set to a default amount, but you can then change this within the app if you need to. You can also check how much of your daily or monthly limit you’ve already used, so there’s no need to keep a track manually - just have a quick look on the Wise app and you’re done.
Here’s how to view and change your Wise card ATM withdrawal limits in the Wise app:
Log in on the Wise app and select the Cards tab
Tap Account limits and the type of transaction - ATM withdrawals
Select the button to change the limit within the Wise maximum available limit range
Daily limits reset each day at midnight, and monthly limits reset at the end of each calendar month.
Here are the Wise ATM withdrawal limits, per day and month, you’ll need to know about.
|Default ATM withdrawal limit
|Maximum ATM withdrawal limit
Details correct at time of writing - 13th April 2023
Wise card ATM withdrawal fees
You may find when you’re making an ATM withdrawal that a message is displayed on the ATM asking you if you’d rather pay in your home currency - so in this case, Canadian dollars, rather than the currency of the country you’re in.
This is described as dynamic currency conversion (DCC), and can happen when you spend or withdraw with a card overseas. It’s positioned as a service which makes it easier to see how much your transaction costs you more easily - but in reality, it also usually means paying higher fees.
Avoid this unnecessary cost by choosing to pay in the local currency wherever you are every time. You can also learn more in this Wise article about ATM fees and DCC.
Wise offers all card holders some free ATM withdrawals every month, with low fees after that. Here’s how Wise card ATM fees breakdown:
|Up to 2 withdrawals per month, to the value of 350 CAD
|No Wise fee
|Additional withdrawals once your monthly allowance is exhausted
|1.5 CAD + 1.75% of withdrawal value
Details correct at time of writing - 13th April 2023
How do I put money on my Wise card?
The Wise card is linked to your multi-currency Wise account. To use your Wise card for spending or withdrawals you’ll first need to add money to your Wise account - you can choose from a variety of different ways to top up Wise, including some low-cost and fast methods, and ways to add different currencies if you’d like.
Top up options include bank transfer, wire transfer, debit card and credit card. Bank transfer and wire transfer are often the cheapest options, and credit card is usually the most expensive way to add money to Wise.
Adding money to Wise so you can spend with your Wise card is easy - and can all be done online or in the Wise app. To give an example, here’s how to add money to a Wise card in CAD, by bank transfer, using just your phone:
Log into your Wise account on the Wise app
Tap your CAD currency balance
Select Add and enter the amount you want to top up
Pick bank transfer as the payment method
Follow the prompts to deposit funds and you’re good to go
Is it safe to use the Wise card abroad?
Wise is a safe and fully regulated provider. Wise is overseen by FINTRAC in Canada, and other equivalent organizations around the world.
To open a Wise account you’ll need to complete a verification step which helps keep your account secure, and to use your card you’ll need to set up security including your own PIN. Once your card is up and running you’ll get instant transaction notifications, and can easily freeze or cancel the card if you’re concerned it’s been lost or stolen.
How do I activate my Wise card outside Canada?
Your Wise card doesn’t need any specific activation step - but you’ll need to make a chip and PIN payment, or use your card at an ATM, before you’re able to use the card’s contactless feature. You won’t be able to make an ATM withdrawal here in Canada, but you can use your card to check your balance instead.
Use Google Pay or Apple Pay and spend with your phone
You can use your Canada issued Wise card conveniently with an e-wallet like Apple Pay for mobile spending. That means you don’t need to carry the physical card to make contactless payments in person, or when shopping online.
You can add your Wise card to your preferred wallet by going to the wallet’s app and following the instructions there - or right from the Wise app instead. As an example here’s how to add your Wise card to Apple Pay:
Open the Wise app
Tap on the Card tab, where you can see all your available cards
Select the card you'd like to add then tap on Add to Apple Wallet
Which countries can I use my Wise card in?
Wise customers in a broad range of countries, including Canada, the US and UK, most of the EEA, Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia and Brazil can order a Wise card.
Wise cards can be used almost anywhere in the world where Visa or Mastercard debit cards are accepted - a total of 170+ countries. The Wise card can be used for online payments, and for in person payments when you travel.
Are there any countries where the Wise card doesn’t work?
There are a few countries where the Wise card cannot be used - usually because of global sanctions or practical constraints. These include Afghanistan, Burundi, Central African Republic, Chad, Congo and Democratic Republic of Congo, Cuba, Eritrea, Iran, Iraq, Libya, North Korea, Russia, Somalia, Sudan and South Sudan, Syria, Venezuela and Yemen.
Exactly where Wise services can be offered may vary from time to time, so do double check if you’re unsure about whether or not your Wise card can be used in your destination.
Tips for saving money when spending abroad
Nobody wants to spend more than necessary when traveling. The Wise card and account can be a good way to cut your costs - here are a few other things to look out for:
Always pay in the local currency - an ATM or merchant may ask if you’d prefer to pay in dollars, but this is always more expensive
Keep a couple of payment methods handy, like cards on different networks and a small amount of cash, so you’re never stuck
If you ever need to convert cash, avoid airport and hotel currency exchange kiosks, as these usually mean higher fees
Conclusion: Is Wise a good travel card?
The Wise card can be a very helpful card for travel and overseas purchases. You can order a Wise card conveniently online, and link it to your Wise account which can be used to hold 50+ currencies.
Wise currency conversion always uses the mid-market exchange rate and low fees from 0.41%. It’s free to spend currencies you hold in your Wise account, and if you don’t have the currency you need, the Wise card auto convert technology can convert for you, using the mid-market rate and Wise’s low fees. That can mean you save compared to using a regular bank card, whenever you spend or withdraw in a foreign currency.
FAQs on using Wise card for travel
You can use your Wise card to make ATM withdrawals at ATMs overseas which support your card’s payment network. Check the network your card is issued on - Visa or MasterCard - and look out for ATMs displaying that logo. You can’t use your Wise Canada card to make ATM withdrawals in Canada. There are also a small number of foreign countries where Wise cards can’t be used, usually because of global sanctions - full details are available on the Wise website.
The Wise card is an international debit card that’s linked to a digital multi-currency Wise account.
When you spend using your Wise card the money will be deducted from the balance you hold in that currency, if you have enough in your account. If not, the Wise card will automatically convert money from another currency balance you hold, choosing the balance with the lowest available fees so you get the best possible deal.
The good news is that you can use your Wise card when you travel to Europe just like a regular payment card. There’s no need to notify Wise of your travel plans, just top up your account using your preferred payment method and you’re done.
Wise offers multi-currency accounts with linked international debit cards for personal and business customers in Canada. You can hold funds in your account, exchange between 50+ currencies with the mid-market rate, send and receive payments, and use your Wise international debit card for easy spending and withdrawals.
If you don’t have a Wise card you can still use your Wise account to send and receive payments. Wise transfers can be sent to 70+ countries, and use the mid-market rate and low fees from 0.41%.