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How to save money on overseas travel spend with Currensea

Ever returned form a holiday to find numerous overseas transaction charges? Those little charges of a few pounds here and there can soon add up. Charges may include a fixed fee for use plus a foreign transaction fee which can be anything up to 2.99%. If you spend £500 that is almost £15 in fees! The new kid on the block of overseas spending aims to overcome this issue with no foreign transaction charges or charges for withdrawing modest amounts of cash. So, let’s find out how to save money on overseas travel spend with Currensea

saving money on overseas travel
saving money on overseas travel with Currensea

How does it work?

Currensea is a direct debit travel card that links to your existing current account. It allows you to make overseas payments without incurring additional fees. When you apply for a card, you link your bank account to the debit card using Open Banking technology. You can then use your card to pay in any of 180 worldwide currencies.

When you spend using the card, the transaction shows in the app and you also receive an email confirming the local amount and amount you will pay in GBP. This makes it very easy to quickly spot any fraudulent transactions and all transactions are covered by Mastercard Chargeback protection.

Currensea then recover the transactions from your bank account as individual direct debits. You receive a notification to indicate when these payments will be taken and they will show on your statement as C-Sea followed by the additional details of the purchase.

The card has now been used in 120 countries and is a great option if you do not have a bank account with fee free overseas transactions.

Which banks have Currensea partnered with?

Currensea have partnered with several banks and you will need to check that your bank is on the list.

At the time of writing the following banks are Currensea partners.

HSBC First Direct TSB
Coutts Bank of Scotland Barclays
Santander Natwest Nationwide
RBS Lloyds Bank Ulster Bank
Halifax

To link to your bank account, Currensea directs you to your bank’s secure website to complete an authorisation process. This API connection allows Currensea to determine that there are sufficient funds available before they authorise any transactions. However, Currensea do not see any of your online banking credentials.

Furthermore, the company is FCA authorised. This means that you have the same level of security as you bank when it comes to protecting your information.

Your Currensea options

You can select from three different Currensea plans. I opted for the Currensea Premium to secure savings of 100% of the foreign transaction fees. This option is worthwhile if you will travel frequently and if you are likely to want to withdraw cash regularly.

Currensea Essential Currensea Premium Currensea Elite
Cost £0 £25 £120
Cash withdrawal Fee free up to £500 per month. 2% over FX rate for withdrawals above £500 Fee free up to £500 per month. 1% over FX rate for withdrawals above £500 Fee free up to £500 per month. 1% over FX rate for withdrawals above £750
FX Rate 0.5% 0% 0%
Preferred Hotels and rewards Complimentary night stay when booking 4+ nights
Saving Spend in any currency and 85% of the typical bank charges Save 100% of the typical bank charges Save 100% of the typical bank charges

Currensea Elite

The Currensea Eliter has a much higher annual charge but offers access to a range of other benefits including;

  • Discounted access to over 1,000 airport lounges
  • Membership of AVIS Presidents Club offering priority service and other extras
  • Additional benefits, such as early check in and room upgrades at over 3,000 hotes and resorts worldwide
  • Elite Concierge service 24/7

I didn’t feel I would get sufficient benefit from this option so opted for Premium instead.

Overseas spending

Cost comparison

If a tourist were to visit the United States and spend $4,500 on a bank card and withdraw $500 in cash the charges for doing so on the Elite and Premium plan would be nil. They would simply pay the exchange rate. For the Essential version there is a 0.5% FX charge.

This is how this compares with major banks in monetary terms.

RBS £126.92
Barclays £136.15
HSBC £134.62
Lloyds £148.65
TSB £160.92

What did we think?

We used the card recently on a trip to Helsinki and here is what we thought.

What we liked

When you make a purchase with the card, you receive an email confirming the amount in the local currency and in sterling. The purchase also shows up in the app efficiently which I really liked. It means you can easily track your spending as a whole and you will know very quickly if your card has been used fraudulently.

What we didn’t like

If you make purchases online, above a certain amount, the card requires two factor authentication which can only be provided by text messaging. This is a real nuisance if you do not tend to roam overseas as you have to continually switch roaming on and off. This could incur additional costs so we recommend making your online purchases in advance in the UK to ease this burden.

How to sign up for Currensea

To sign up for a card, click here. There is a current offer that allows you to earn £10 when you spend £150 in any foreign currency in the first 6 months after opening your account.

Don’t forget to let us know how you get on using the card!!

About Anne

Anne is the founder and editor of Frommilestosmiles. If she isn't travelling, she is thinking of travelling or planning her next trip. She has visited over 90 countries on six continents and sampled everything from backpacking to bank bursting travel. Her mission is to help you enjoy more luxurious travel without the luxury price tag through the use of airline and hotel rewards and other money-saving travel tips

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