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prepaid credit cards for travel

Which (prepaid) credit card is best to travel with? And why?

How do you pay for reservations and payments at hotels? We get a lot of questions about it. In many cases you need a credit card and because, for example, as a student you may not have enough income, you cannot just apply for one. People are also against the usually high costs of a credit card. We understand that choosing the right card for you, is difficult! Fortunately, there is now a solution for this: a Prepaid Credit Card of Travel Card. This is a disguised debit account (so you have to deposit money into it first) but with all the credit card benefits. So you can book hotels and hostels with it, but you can also simply use it to pay by card abroad. Whether you're just enjoying yourself Europe , are on vacation or busy with making a world trip. Even renting a car is possible with a prepaid credit card!

It should be noted that you must have sufficient balance for any deposit. In this article we tell you everything about Prepaid Credit Cards, how they work, what it costs and how to apply for them.

Also read: Banking, bank accounts and credit cards for your world trip

world travel banking credit cards | prepaid credit card | Wereldreizigers.nl
Which (prepaid) credit card is best for traveling? And why? 11

What are Prepaid Credit Cards and what can you do with them?

Below we have answered the most important questions about Prepaid Credit Cards, divided into 5 points. Do you still have questions after reading this article? Feel free to post them in the comments!

Why a prepaid credit card?

The introduction of this article is aimed at students, but that does not mean that only students can use it. I myself have not been a student for 12 years, but still use the prepaid credit card on every trip I take. I just enjoy working – the mobile applications are good and you're not going to spend money you don't have. A prepaid credit card is therefore suitable for everyone and can be applied for by anyone – even if you are not a student.

Can I apply for this credit card with a BKR registration?

Yes, that's possible! That is another huge advantage of a prepaid credit card compared to a regular credit card. There are no BKR registration checks when you apply for a prepaid credit card, because you do not have to borrow money with this card.

You also avoid any BKR registrations with prepaid credit cards. With a prepaid credit card you can never get an unexpected BKR registration because you do not borrow money, but set up money yourself.

Unfortunately, this can still be the case with a normal credit card, because in principle you borrow money with every payment and pay it back afterwards.

How does a prepaid credit card work?

A prepaid credit card is a kind of combination of a normal bank account and a credit card. You deposit money into this account yourself, just like a normal bank account. You can then pay with your card in stores and also use it to make debit card payments worldwide. The big difference is in the 'reserve' of payments. With a credit card, a hotel, store or rental company can reserve money on your credit card as a kind of prepayment. The money will not yet be debited, but you will no longer be able to use it unless the payment or reservation is cancelled. This is one of the most important functions of a credit card - something we in the Netherlands hardly know about.

What can I do with a prepaid credit card?

Just like with regular credit cards, you can make purchases in (web) shops, book hotels on websites such as Booking.com, AirBnB and hostelworld and you can also (if you have sufficient balance for the deposit) rent cars. The funny thing is that almost every car rental company informs you in advance on their website that it is NOT possible with a prepaid credit card.

I (as stubborn as I am) went to try it anyway and in all 8 cases it just worked. The Bunq Travel Card is currently the only prepaid credit card that has actually succeeded in doing this everywhere. I have also had successes with N26, but not with all companies. More about that later in this article.

What is a Travel Card?

A Travel Card is simply Bunq's prepaid credit card. Because this is often used when traveling (the Dutch hardly use credit cards in their own country), it was called the Travel Card.

What does a prepaid credit card cost?

Below we examine some different prepaid credit cards. In addition to the different variants, we also explain what the most important differences are.

Free Prepaid Credit Cards

Yes, there are several free prepaid credit cards available. These are usually exclusively digital variants (only working via mobile apps). However, you almost always pay a significant amount or percentage per transaction - just like with a 'regular' credit card. Because you do not have a physical card, you cannot withdraw money with it. In my opinion, this does not make them very interesting, especially if you travel a little longer. However, it can be interesting for short trips within Europe. Below is a selection of Free Prepaid Credit Cards that you can currently apply for.

Cheap Prepaid Credit Cards

The cheap prepaid credit cards start at about 3 to 4 euros per month. All Prepaid Credit Cards in the cheap category also support Apple Pay and Google Pay - which is missing from most free variants. For this amount you will not only receive the digital version on your phone, but also a physical card. This is important because contactless payment is not yet the norm everywhere, especially in Asia, Africa and South America. You can also withdraw money with a physical card, something that is not possible with a digital card on your smartphone. Below is a selection of cheap Prepaid Credit Cards that you can currently apply for.

Premium Prepaid Credit Cards

The Premium Prepaid Credit Cards can do everything that free or cheap Prepaid Credit Cards can do, only at better rates and even more extras. Think of free Lounge access at airports, cashbacks of up to 3% on hotel bookings and public transport and extensive additional insurance. This is often accompanied by a luxurious steel or titanium card, with which you really make a splash. But it often goes much further than that.

Who for example Bunq Easy Green takes, plants a tree for every 100 euros that passes the card. This can really add up if you're on a long trip. See, for example, my own certificate from early 2023 below.

Wereldreizigers.nl financed a total of 1108 trees through Bunq, for which we received a nice certificate at the beginning of 2023.

Anyone who opts for the premium variants at N26 can count on other additional benefits. Consider, for example, travel insurance, cancellation insurance and even smartphone insurance up to 2000 euros. So take a good look at which option suits you best.

Which prepaid credit card is the best?

There are of course several prepaid credit cards and each variant has its specific advantages and disadvantages. Below you can see the differences in both functionality and costs of the different prepaid credit cards we tested.

Remark: If you plan to rent a car with a prepaid credit card, this is currently (at the end of 2023) only possible with the Bunq prepaid credit card, provided you want freedom worldwide (accepted everywhere). N26 also works hard car rental support, but is not yet accepted by all companies everywhere.

We continue to test this annually with prepaid credit cards and will continue to update this page.

1. Bunq Travel Card

As far as our experiences are concerned, the Bunq Prepaid Credit Card (now known as Bunq Easy Money) is still the best option at the moment (end of 2023). Below we will explain why.

  • Rent cars and scooters worldwide: The Bunq Prepaid Credit Card is the only card with which you can rent cars and scooters worldwide without any problems. Anyone who is not familiar with the Bunq card will never suspect that it is a Prepaid Credit Card - it cannot be seen on the card and even if they deposit for, for example car rental If you want to make a reservation on your card, you can easily do so. Under the engine head, the Bunq Prepaid card is one full credit card and that makes it unique compared to the alternatives we mention in this article.
  • Also works offline: What is also important to know is that the Bunq Travel Card a full-fledged one Mastercard - making it the most accepted credit card in the world. Even offline terminals on airplanes and elsewhere work with this card (we have also tested this many times ourselves). So you don't need an internet connection.
  • The best exchange rates with ZeroFX: The ZeroFX feature will save you a lot of money. You no longer pay conversion costs for exchanging foreign currencies. This will save you a lot of money, especially if you travel a little longer. Of ZeroFX you get the real exchange rate – not an inflated rate that happens to turn out bad for you every time. Realize that normal debit and credit cards never convert your currency favorably.
  • No additional transaction costs: Most credit cards charge 1 to 3% transaction costs abroad. I don't think I need to explain further that this is quite impressive. Bunq does not charge any additional transaction costs abroad, so you save a lot of money.
  • Free or very cheap debit card payments abroad: Then there are the separate, one-off PIN costs (per PIN transaction) abroad. ATMs in South America and Asia simply charge you another 5 to 10 euros each time you withdraw. Checkout. At Bunq you can make free withdrawals outside the EU up to 6 times a month - count your winnings.
The Bunq Prepaid Credit Card (the Travel Card)
The Bunq Prepaid Credit Card (the Travel Card)

Don't underestimate all those hidden costs. All those costs together add up quite a bit if you travel a little longer. Bunq ZeroFX at least eliminates the biggest problem: bad exchange rates and transaction fees. Outside the EU you also often have lower PIN costs, for example 1 euro per time or even free. I have tested it many times – you can unknowingly save 1000 to 30 euros in costs with Bunq for every 50 euros you spend.

Fun fact: I have of course tested the exchange rate guarantee 'ZeroFX' from Bunq myself. I went in South Africa one day buy something (by card) in a store with the Bunq travel card. I paid 2 euros for 12,62 bottles of water and breakfast. The next day I bought the exact same thing with a regular VISA credit card and was charged 13,08 for exactly the same products in the same store.

This may not seem like much, but 46 cents difference on such a small amount is more than you think. With larger amounts this can really add up! When you travel or are on vacation, you make hundreds, if not thousands, of transactions. All this together is worth as much as your plane ticket!

Bunq In short:

  • Prepaid Credit Card costs €7,99 per month - you get the card free.
  • Payment in foreign currency without extra costs (ZeroFX).
  • Rent a car abroad possible.
  • Also works offline (e.g. on airplanes).
  • Reliable Dutch bank.
  • In-depth collaboration with WISE (send money worldwide).
  • Works on your mobile with Apple Pay and Google Pay.

Our advice for traveling abroad:
Bunq Prepaid Credit Card

The Bunq card is the most accepted Prepaid Credit Card in the world. It's a full-fledged one Mastercard credit card - even offline terminals in airplanes and elsewhere work with this card (we have tested this many times ourselves). You can also rent a car with this card.

Pros:
  • No BKR check
  • Dutch bank
  • Problem-free car rental abroad
  • ZeroFX (abroad saves about 2-3% per transaction!)
  • Works with Google and Apple Pay
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Our experience: The Bunq Travel Card has become the ideal card for us on the go in recent years. We rent cars with it, we withdraw money and nowadays we actually pay everything with this card when we are traveling.

This saves us a lot of money along the way. We also like to keep all travel expenses neatly separated from our personal accounts and be able to draw up a balance in the household book afterwards (with the help of the handy App). This way we can see exactly what we spent on what. For example, food, hotels, fuel, etc.!

2. N26 – Prepaid Credit Card

After Bunq, the N26 Prepaid Credit Card is the most popular in the Netherlands and not without reason. N26 is originally a German company and their card works everywhere in the world. An advantage of N26 is that you get a free checking account, with Bunq it costs €6,99. Below is a brief overview of the most important features.

  • Free Mastercard and bank account.
  • cheap payments in any currency.
  • Rent a car abroad limited possible at a select number of companies.
  • English-speaking customer service.
n26 prepaid credit card | prepaid credit card | Wereldreizigers.nl
Which (prepaid) credit card is best for traveling? And why? 12

At N26 it works as follows, there are 4 different account types from which you can choose and these differences are very important because the more expensive packages can also save you a lot of money. It goes like this:

  • N26 Standard | €0 per month, only digitally via the app.
  • N26 Smart | €4,90 per month, incl. physical card.
  • N26 You | €9,90 per month, including continuous travel insurance + free debit card OUTSIDE the EU.
  • N26 Metal | €16,90 per month, including cashbacks and smartphones up to 2000 euros insured.

Including travel and smartphone insurance
N26 - The Mobile Bank

N26 works anywhere in the world. An advantage of N26 is that you also get a free checking account.

Where N26 makes the difference is that with the more expensive subscriptions you get a full travel insurance and even one smartphone insurance up to 2000 euros per device is included.

Pros:
  • Free debit card payments outside the EU
  • Including full travel insurance
  • Including smartphone insurance
  • Car rental possible from 11 rental companies
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Car Rental: N26 has been working hard in recent years to catch up. It has recently also become possible to rent cars with the N26 prepaid credit card, but this is still limited to a number of rental companies. These are the rental companies where you can currently (end of 2023) rent a car with N26:

  • Alamo
  • Reviews
  • Centaur
  • Enterprise
  • Europcar
  • Firefly
  • Joy runs
  • Loco car
  • Greater
  • SicilyByCar
  • Thrifty car rental

You can use the N26 prepaid credit card apply here.

3. WISE – Money Without Borders

WISE can also be a (cheap) solution for many people. You can use WISE without a physical card for free. They offer a debit Mastercard for 10 euros (which also functions as a Prepaid Credit Card), with which you pay 'without transaction costs' outside the euro zone. The card is linked to a free digital payment account on which you can hold various currencies.

  • Opening a (digital) bank account is free.
  • Payment in foreign currency against favorable rate (Max 1%).
  • Rent a car abroad not possible.
  • Easily send money abroad.
  • Reliable Belgian bank.
  • Works on your mobile with Apple Pay and Google Pay.
images ee71a5e2c0f5500ea4a0921fde97b4c7 personal card 3 min | prepaid credit card | Wereldreizigers.nl
Which (prepaid) credit card is best for traveling? And why? 13

How it works? You put money in the checking account by transferring it to the IBAN number. That costs nothing. If you do not have the currency in which you pay with the debit card in your account, Wise will exchange the amount with the currency with the most favorable exchange rate.


Best option for short trips
WISE | Money without borders

WISE makes international payments easy. Opening a digital account is free and payments and currency conversions can be made at an affordable rate (0,5% to 1%).

A physical WISE Mastercard, which also serves as a Prepaid Credit Card, costs 10 euros. This also allows you to withdraw from almost any ATM abroad.

Pros:
  • Requested quickly
  • Can be used worldwide
  • Very suitable for short trips
  • Works with Apple and Google Pay
Cons:
  • Currency conversion costs 0,5 to 1%
  • Car rental not possible
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Want to support us? We earn a small commission if you make a purchase via our link(s), at no additional cost to you. Win win!

WISE is particularly suitable for people who do not travel for a long time or are only abroad a few times a year. Good to Know: at the Prepaid Credit Card from Bunq WISE is included. They have a deep ongoing collaboration.

You can use the WISE prepaid credit card apply here.

4. Binance credit card (expired)

binance prepaid credit card | prepaid credit card | Wereldreizigers.nl
Which (prepaid) credit card is best for traveling? And why? 14

Update end of 2023: Binance unfortunately has to cease its activities in the Netherlands and Belgium. As of December 3, 2023, as a resident of the BeNeLux you can no longer use their card.

For the bitcoin and crypto fanatics among us: Binance, the largest crypto platform in the world, recently also launched Prepaid Credit Cards. You can deposit bitcoin, dollars, euros and many other cryptocurrencies there to use. You can choose to convert it in advance into euros or dollars, for example, but you can also choose to use the 'bitcoin rate' of that moment. Binance will then automatically convert the amount 'on the fly' for 1% transaction costs.

Also useful to know: You can via Wereldreizigers.nl Get 10 euros free bitcoin with the most popular Crypto App from Dutch soil, BLOX. If you enter the voucher code 'WORLD TRAVELERS' you will immediately receive 10 euros for free in your account to test the App. Don't like it? Fine... then it won't cost you anything. You download HERE for iOS and HERE for android. Give it a try!

VISA: Because the Binance prepaid Credit Card is a VISA card, it is also the perfect addition to your Mastercard from Bunq. If you happen to be somewhere where they do not accept Mastercard, you can still use this VISA card. With both cards you have 100% coverage anywhere in the world.

cashbacks: Also good to know is that with every payment via the Binance Credit Card you can save for cashbacks in crypto. You get money back when you regularly make purchases with the card and enough cryptocurrencies 'staked'. The cashback discount can then rise from 1 to 10%!

Binance Prepaid Credit Card
Binance Prepaid Credit Card

You can use the Binance prepaid credit card apply here or by scanning the QR code in the image above.

Also read: Our 6 best tips to save money on your motorhome trip + VIDEO

5. Openbank R42 Mastercard

I have no experience with the openbank R42 master card myself. I do know that other travelers use these and are satisfied with them.

  • Free current account + Maestro debit card.
  • Withdraw money 5 times a month for free.
  • Rent a car abroad not possible.
  • Dutch customer service.

You can use the Openbank R42 Mastercard apply here.

Also read: Tips to save energy and money with Smart Home Products

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Chris

Owner of Wereldreizigers.nl † Discover the world!
- Full-time blogging world traveler.
- Writes about travel, photography, sustainability and gadgets.
- Likes to discover extreme and unknown places.

0 comments

  • Last summer we were able to rent our car through OpenBank in Sweden with a prepaid credit card. This also works at the (larger?) car rental company.

  • Because we do not want a BKR registered credit card, we recently purchased a prepaid credit card so that we can rent a car abroad. Ideal! 🙂

  • This information is now outdated, and the Bunq travel card can only be requested in combination with a subscription of at least 3,99 per month. So it is no longer attractive if you only want the card and would like to stay with your trusted bank.

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