This is our review of the WeSwap Mastercard travel money card.
If you use a rewards credit card when travelling, you will incur a fee of 3% on everything you buy. This can never be justified by the reward points earned on the transaction. It may be justified if you need to hit a spending target to trigger a sign-up bonus or a voucher such as the British Airways American Express 2-4-1 but this is rarely relevant.
Over the next week or so we are going to look at a few no and low FX fee options. We reviewed Tandem a few weeks ago (click here) so we not going to cover that again. We reviewed Revolut here (and we have a special reader deal to avoid the £5 postage fee) and looked at some 0% credit cards.
All of these products have different features – there is no ‘right’ answer. Some are more fiddly than others, some are prepaid cards and some are credit cards, some have added benefits such as 0% interest on purchases.
If you DO want to earn frequent flyer miles or reward points from your foreign spending, the best option is Curve Card. Curve is free and has a 1% foreign exchange fee (2/3rd lower than most cards). It recharges your purchase to any other Visa or Mastercard you own in Sterling. This means you earn miles and points on the underlying card without paying the usual 2.99% foreign transaction fee. Curve Card will pay you £5 for trying it out – read our article here.
The WeSwap Mastercard travel money card
The WeSwap Mastercard was originally very similar to Revolut, being a pre-paid travel money card which had to be loaded before you spent on it. This product has recently changed into a hybrid credit card / prepaid travel money card.
We were also intrigued after it won “Best Travel Money Provider 2018” at the British Bank Awards. It also raised £8m from 3,500 existing customers through a recent crowdfunding scheme.
What is WeSwap?
Like Revolut, WeSwap is an online platform with an app (so you need a smartphone) and a linked plastic Mastercard. It lets you exchange your money for any foreign currency, although the fees are lowest with their 18 core currencies.
The USP for WeSwap is that you are swapping your money with other travellers. You don’t see this but, behind the scenes, WeSwap moves money onto your card when another member is looking to swap the same currency back into Sterling.
The smart thing about this is that fees are low, because WeSwap is not buying your currency in the FX markets. The downside is that you need to give them some time – up to seven days – to get your money. You can have it instantly but the fee is higher.
How doesWeSwap work?
You sign up on the WeSwap website here. You will then need to download the WeSwap app and wait for a WeSwap Mastercard to appear in your letterbox.
You can load your card via a debit card or bank transfer. Credit cards are not accepted (note that Revolut does now allow loading with a credit card, which some issuers are treating as a purchase and so earning you miles and points ….)
Every WeSwap member loads their cards with their home currency – £ for UK readers.
How do I spend money with WeSwap?
Your card will be loaded in £. Before you travel, you need to swap your £ balance into the currency you need. This will be processed at the Mastercard interbank rate less a fee of:
1% if you give WeSwap seven days to complete your swap
1.3% if you give WeSwap three days to complete your swap
2% if you want WeSwap to swap your money immediately
A swap may be completed faster than the time stated depending on the amount of money that WeSwap members are currently moving in each direction. If you choose the seven or three day options, you can see via the app how much of the order has been filled at any point and, if you want, complete the swap immediately by switching to the 2% option.
If you want to swap into a currency which is not one of the core 18 currencies (GBP, USD, EUR, CAD, AUD, ZAR, CHF, NOK, SEK, DKK, HKD, PLN, NZD, SGD, HUF, JPY, ILS, TRY) then the fee is fixed at 2% and the transaction is done immediately.
When you make a purchase abroad, the transaction is debited from your balance in that currency. There is no transaction fee as long as you have a big enough balance.
If you do not have enough money in the currency needed – but you do have enough loaded in Sterling – the transaction is still authorised but you are charged a 2% fee for converting the amount into £.
Can I make ATM withdrawals abroad with WeSwap?
Yes. You can make two withdrawals per 24 hour period for a total of no more than £500.
Withdrawals in any currency except the 18 listed above are capped at £200 per week.
ATM withdrawals are free above the equivalent of £200. There is charge of around £1.50 for small withdrawals.
What limits does WeSwap have?
It has limits and some of them don’t appear too generous.
You are limited to 10 transactions per day. This could be difficult in countries such as Sweden where a large number of shops no longer accept cash.
There is an annual spending limit of £12,000.
WeSwap can also now be a credit card, if you want it
WeSwap recently added a credit option. Here are the details.
Depending on your status, you will be allowed to borrow between £250 and £2000. Unlike a traditional credit card, you need to request a lump sum which is loaded in £ to your card. You can then convert this sum into other currencies just like you had loaded the card from your bank account.
There is no interest to pay if you settle the balance via a transfer from your bank account or with a debit card within 30 days. If you do not settle the balance in 30 days you will pay 19.9% interest.
Is a WeSwap card worth getting?
Here at Head for Points we are generally not keen on prepaid foreign currency cards such as Revolut and WeSwap. If you have a good income then you will get the best deal by getting a standard credit card with 0% foreign exchange fees and using that abroad. We will be looking at a few of those products, such as the Virgin Money Travel credit card and – under reader pressure! – Aqua, in this series.
WeSwap, Revolut and the like are better suited to people who are less likely to qualify for credit cards, are concerned about losing their credit card abroad or for parents to give to their children when travelling. There may be other members of your family who will find it more useful than you. The card is fiddly and, unless you turn on the credit card option, there is a risk that you won’t have enough money to make a purchase.
It is possible that you are happier paying a small fee to WeSwap by using the pre-paid card rather than potentially restricting your ability to get credit elsewhere by adding a 0% FX credit card to your credit report.
WeSwap is FREE, of course, so signing up and giving it a try does not cost you anything. You may find it works for you.
(Want to earn more miles and points from credit cards? Click here to visit our dedicated airline and hotel travel credit cards page or use the ‘Credit Cards Update’ link in the menu bar at the top of the page.)