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TRAVEL CARD REVIEWS: Is WeSwap, the crowdfunded prepaid card, worth a look?

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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 outread 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.

The official WeSwap website is here.  The credit card option is explained separately here.

WeSwap card review

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.

You can find out more about WeSwap on their website here.  The credit card option is explained separately here.

(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.)

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Comments

  1. We have had the Halifax Clarity cards for nearly a decade just for foreign travel and never had a problem. The last spend abroad was £1200 in ATM cash and purchases and it cost 38 pence in interest. With internet banking I pay the money owed every day or couple of days on my mobile.

  2. Mikeact says:

    Soft credit check required ?

  3. Used starling bank on recent trip to Japan, was a flawless experience.
    https://www.starlingbank.com/travel/

    I don’t keep large amounts revolut there still waiting on fscs protection / whatever Euro version is.

    • Lumma says:

      Big fan of starling bank. Take the free overdraft and it can be used to withdraw cash whenever and the account can be topped up back into credit straight away with the amount shown in the notification.

      It’s almost too good for overseas withdrawals that I can’t see it lasting as it is forever.

      The app is also really good too, especially compared to most mainstream banking apps it’s fast and simple

      • Andrew says:

        I agree. Starling Bank are excellent and seem to be the largest of the new challenger bank accounts run via a phone app. They also now offer a fees free business account.

        I don’t think they’ll be getting rid of their 0% FX fees anytime soon as it’s one of their headline benefits of owning the account on their website.

      • Andrew says:

        The overdraft facility with Starling isn’t free.

        • Lumma says:

          Yeah, I don’t know why I said free there. I just meant the overdraft comes in handy for withdrawing what you need without risking it getting declined and I can put the account back in the black the next time I get online

  4. pixielott46 says:

    what a terrible product.

    i use a combination of monzo, and starling.
    https://monzo.com

    monzo you can instantly request payments from and pay friends who also have monzo.
    starling has free cash withdrawls.

  5. Harriot says:

    We always take WeSwap when we go to Spain. Great for ATM withdrawals because it’s free over £200 and we often take out around that amount. Never had any problems paying with it either. Not tried Revolut or Starling but do carry our credit card too.

  6. flyforfun says:

    What happens to the s75 of the consumer credit act when you use these cards? If you want to do a charge back or claim ? Curve definitely doesn’t have it.

    • As you are spending pre-loaded money, you’re not covered. If you were using the credit option on WeSwap you would be covered I imagine.

      Bottom line – if you are spending with someone else’s money, directly (so Curve is out), you’re covered.

    • Frenske says:

      You could use the Mastercard Chargeback protection if you need to make a claim, which works pretty much as the S75 act. Unlike the £100 of the S75 act the minimum spend is only £10.

  7. Tim M says:

    Firstly, Revolut is no longer issuing Mastercard. For some time now, they have been issuing the more-accepted and less problematic Visa card.

    To what extent is a current account ‘pre-paid’? I find Revolut a totally international bank account except for one facility – direct debit which is meant to be coming. Regular and one-off payments can be made to bank accounts in 150+ countries in their local currency, at the interbank, spot mid-rate, fee-free. That is huge for anyone with property or family abroad – forget currency conversion fees, no more SWIFT fees!

    Virtual accounts can be created in any of the currencies supported, including Bitcoin and other e-currencies, and conversions between made, fee free, at any time.

    One surprising aspect when I first got the card was whenever it is used for a purchase or cash withdrawal the app pushes a notification even before it is confirmed at the ATM or PoS machine – anywhere in the World, with the exact cost in Sterling.

    • I joined Revolut about a week ago and have been issued a MasterCard… What do you mean by Visa being less problematic?

      • Tim M says:

        How strange. My first Revolut card was a Mastercard. When I reported a fraudulant transaction it was replaced by a Visa card. I assumed they had switched. And yes, I have had several prepaid, foreign currency Mastercards over the years which have been refused by some PoS machines. I have never had a problem with the Revolut Visa.

    • HAM76 says:

      Money transfer is my main reason for using Revolut, too. It‘s not sustainable as a business, though, so I also use the card when Amex isn‘t accepted. The whole prepaid thing isn‘t really an issue as you can top up for free from many non-commercial credit cards and all debit cards almost instantly. No need to keep a lot of money in the Revolut account and I‘m not loosing out on points.

    • HAM76 says:

      Forgot to add one other advantage of Revolut (and Curve, for that matter). When you leave the card in the hotel room or at the pool, or are in a crowd of people, you can lock your card, and then, when you need to use it, you can instantly unlock your card.

    • Andrew says:

      When I check both exchange rates the MasterCard FX rate is always slightly better than Visa’s

  8. @Rob

    You say there are some credit cards that see Revolut topping up as spending, do you know which point earning cards they are?

  9. I strongly recommend you take a look at Monzo as part of this series.

    Interbank FX rate on all purchases, a proper current account not a charge up card. Plus the app is excellent.

  10. Doug M says:

    All this just makes we wish that the Lloyds Avios hangs in there for another year or two.

    • Delbert says:

      Time to move on and search out the next best new kid on the block, Doug.

  11. James says:

    As part of the advice to use a standard credit card with 0% on foreign transaction fees vs services such as Revolut, are you taking into account the exchange rates offered? I find that Revolut offers me a far better exchange rate than the standard cards and is therefore a better overall option.

    • Genghis says:

      What testing have you done on this?
      This is a good article from MSE https://www.moneysavingexpert.com/credit-cards/mastercard-visa-amex
      If Revolut as a MC give rates on the day and a credit card MC such as a Halifax give rates when processed a day or two later, surely there are times when you win and lose with Revolut as FX rates move?

      • The exchange rate Revolut uses isn’t based on the card issuer. They convert the transactions at their own rate which mirrors the interbank rate, so is better than MC, Visa and Amex – albeit by about 20p to every £1000 you spend….. At least this was true when I last used it overseas (2 years ago….).

        • Not sure how to edit, but wanted to add that the FX wins/losses would even out over time to be an overall win for Revolut – perhaps not for a weeks trip though 😉

        • Richard says:

          On ‘wins and losses’ equalling themselves over time… if you took out 100 euros every week on Revolut, and the wizz kids behind Revolut weren’t part of the 95% of FX losers this year, next year, the year after etc., then just maybe that statement might hold. But I don’t believe either. Which is why instant conversion is more important to me. 🙂

      • Richard says:

        Revolut: instant conversion. Curve: instant conversion. Aqua: instant conversion. For me, all three show up in their retrospective iPhone apps immediately. When N&P was still functioning, more often than not I received a better rate from N&P VISA than M/C. And same for Wesleyan bank (VISA) in older times. Not quite sure about Alex’s ‘FX wins/losses would even out over time’ comment, but for me, instant FX conversion is important.

      • Richard says:

        On ‘wins and losses’ equalling themselves over time… if you took out 100 euros every week on Revolut, and the wizz kids behind Revolut weren’t part of the 95% of FX losers this year, next year, the year after etc., then just maybe that statement might hold. But I don’t believe either. Which is why instant conversion is more important to me. 🙂

        • Genghis says:

          Interesting discussion. If ever I’m bored on a rainy day I might do some number crunching.

  12. Ed Greenson says:

    Aqua are a disgusting business.
    My wife as a student struggled to get a credit card so went for Aqua usual £350 limit to start increased to £3k automatically very quickly.
    But what really bothers me is the constant letters as a minimum once every two weeks offering her to borrow £7.5k for that special something at a special rate of 15.9% APR this company is obsessed with getting people like students or low income families into debt and to be honest it makes me sick.
    Have never used the card since and I would politely request to Rob that if he does a review he should at least highlight their relentless mailshots begging people to go into debt at ridiculously high rates.
    I was thinking about writing this morning and decided against until I kid you not a letter landed on the door mat just now with a new offer with a personal application code.

    • Lumma says:

      I said this further up. I can handle the credit rate increases but I’m sure there’s plenty that can’t. I keep getting awful balance and money transfer offers from them (just 16.9% for 6 months!).

    • Ed Greenson says:

      It has never been a problem for us either used it to gain a better score and only keeping it because credit reference agencies like stability Really stupid in my opinion. A savy switcher is surely most likely to be prudent when it comes to financial management!

      Aqua just feels a bit like a pay day loan company out there to fleece the innocent low income sector with ridiculously expensive credit.

      • Richard says:

        I used to share your sentiment. And still do to a certain extent. But I struggle to find one other credit company that will offer to automatically refund an over-limit fee if you return the card within its limit in 24 hours. I’m cynical: by definition, if you’re on a low income and go over your limit of £350 or £750, it’s more likely you’ll struggle to resolve the situation within 24 hours. However, both pending transactions and BACS transfers are instant with Aqua. As far as card companies go, they are far from perfect. But I don’t find them to be less disgusting than most other issuers.

  13. Delbert says:

    Am I going to save a small fortune over the Clarity card, Richard?

  14. let_BAegones_be says:

    OT apologies.
    I wanted to cancel my gold Amex card to avoid the annual fee kicking in. They have offered me 20000 points if I spent £4000 within 3months. I took it.
    Good deal?
    Can I still cancel and get a partial refund on the annual fee?
    Will I get the points right away or only at the end of the year?
    Thanks for your help!

    • You would get 20000 points for upgrading to Platinum and spending £1k, depends how fast you would hit the spend though as you’d be charged the Platinum fee if your anniversary date has passed.

    • I know someone else who got offered this during this week. VERY interesting development, looks like Amex is prioritising keeping people on its own (no interchange cap) cards.

      • Genghis says:

        Any offers on Plats? I’ll be looking to cancel around month end.

        • Graham Walsh says:

          Same here planning on cancelling my Amex Plat this month too. Have just SPG and Lloyds to keep earning whilst waiting to re sign.

  15. Seems like a load of phaff for not much gain to me. Our solution for many years has been Halifax Clarity. Not so much for purchases since the rewards stopped and we’ve had the Lloyds card but its still great for ATM withdrawals. We tend to pay approximately the right amount immediately after each withdrawal, and then true it up once the transactions come through. Never paid for than a few odd pence in interest over the base MasterCard rates.

    The Starling bank option sounds interesting though.

    • Genghis says:

      I use Starling now for ATM withdrawals given that withdrawals on Halifax Clarity show up on credit reports.

      • Yes, that’s the downside. Starling account looks like a better solution.

        • Andrew says:

          It’s not much but Starling also pay 0.5% on credit balances with the interest credited monthly to your account. Not ground breaking but my view is that something is better than nothing.

      • I wonder can you load Starling with Curve card.

        • Memesweeper says:

          If you did, and then paid off the credit card with the funds in Starling, this would violate the Curve T&Cs (and maybe Starlings too).

        • Noted!

  16. Andrew says:

    What with Curve and now Starling my Hailfax Clarity card is 100% redundant. It was useful but now there are better options available.

  17. Federico says:

    off to America next sat and i am going to use revolut, which lets be honest let me save already over £50 with the exchange..

    I will see how i get on but already VERY impressed

  18. Hi Rob,

    You say in the article “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…”

    What about both the Amex Gold, and HSBC World Elite? They both offer double points for foreign transactions… does this not work out as acceptable??

    • Genghis says:

      For ongoing spend, in my opinion no. Eg Amex Gold 2 MRs for 3p is a bad deal unless someone else is paying the bill.

    • 1.5p per Amex point is not good. There are no redemptions worth over 1p in my book.

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