What is the best card to travel to the United States?

Hi, Molaviajer@s! The output of this post catches us halfway around the world in our living room, trying to leave the coronavirus out and planning future trips. As many of you know, we came back from New York last week and were doing, among other things, tests to know which is the best card to travel to the United States. As we do not want to leave half the information we started to give in networks, here we leave you our conclusions and all our encouragement to overcome the quarantine in the best possible way. We will try to continue publishing content on travel, to try to bring you as close as possible, the end of this difficult moment. So we change the chip and continue to do our thing, because we like to travel.

Index of Contents

What currency is used in the United States?

As most of you will know, the US dollar is used in the United States.

In the good old days (for Europeans), it was far below the euro, so tourists went to New York with one suitcase and came back with two. It was almost all bargains!

Those moments are far away, and although the dollar is usually a little bit below the euro, the difference is not as high as it was a few years ago. You can imagine that for one euro you get, more or less and counting on the market fluctuations, 1.1 dollars.

Is it better to pay with cash or card in the United States?

This depends largely on your day-to-day habits. Ask yourself: How do you usually pay in a shop, restaurant, bar, and when you leave a tip? And at a street stall?

Our way of acting in the United States when it comes to paying is as follows: we always carry cash in our pockets, preferably in small denominations. However, most of the payments we make are usually by bank card, because we do not like to travel with large amounts of money.

But VERY IMPORTANT: we never use our regular bank card. Why? Because it charges us more than excessive fees for “payment in non-euro currency”. We explain below, but as a general rule:

We always use cash: when tipping in hotels, people who help you with your bags, when paying in street food carts, in bazaar-style shops…

We always use the card in the United States to: pay for hotels, purchases in supermarkets, shops, restaurants (and the corresponding tip in these services), transportation… And when it’s time to take out the card, we choose one of the travel cards we have in our wallet: Revolut, Bnext or N26. With them we make sure we only pay for what the product costs. With zero commissions.

When do you need to apply for a card to travel to the United States?

That is to say… At what point, during the preparation of our trip to the United States, is it convenient for us to order a card like this, with zero commissions?

Our recommendation is that you do it in plenty of time to:

Try it out at home: this way you can try to load it, make some purchases, get familiar with the app and make sure everything works correctly… When preparing your trip to the United States, you may want to buy tickets, passes, book hotels… And some of these reservations will have to be made with dollars. This is when the first commissions start to jump, so the recommendation is that in this case, you pay with these zero commissions cards.

How do we get cash to travel to the United States?

In two ways.

The first one: changing currency before leaving on a trip, never at the airport and always comparing before. Lately we use online exchange houses, we compare and we stay with the one that gives us better conditions. Of these, we primarily use two:

In both you have special conditions for going on behalf of Molaviajar. We used them last January to change it for our trip to Latin America and the next one to New York. You can read more about them and see discount codes for both in this post about where to change currency https://www.molaviajar.com/donde-cambio-de-moneda-para-viajar/

The second: withdrawing cash at the ATMs where we are. There’s an upside to this and two downsides:

-Positive is that you’re getting money as you need it

-The downside is that:

In order to withdraw money from an ATM, in 90% of the cases you have to pay a commission, so to speak, “to the owner of the ATM” which is very difficult to get rid of.

In addition, if you do not want to incur another additional fee as a result of the euro/dollar exchange rate, each card puts a maximum limit on the amount of money you can withdraw from time to time.

How do you get money out of ATMs in the US?

Even though it is very obvious, the first thing to do is to put the card and pin in when the cashier asks for it. In many of them, when the card is recognized as foreign, it will offer you to change the language of the ATM. At that point you can choose Spanish.

If this is not the case, it is most likely that the cashier will inform you of the fees that will be charged by the owner of the cashier and the bank itself. The cash withdrawal operation is called “withdraw”.

Then, all you have to do is choose the amount you want to withdraw, print the receipt or not, withdraw the money from the ATM and you’re done!

What is the best card for withdrawing money from an ATM in the United States?

Before revealing the winning card, you should know that the travel cards we use, in their free plan, have limits to avoid commissions:

Revolut allows you to take out up to 200 euros per month without applying extra fees.

Bnext allows you to take out up to 500 euros per month without applying extra fees

N26 applies a 1.7% surcharge to the amount you take out, outside the euro zone, in its free mode.

Having said that, we told you that we did a test by withdrawing money in the USA with our bank card and with our 3 usual cards to travel abroad, in the same ATM, on the same day and successively.

In all the tests we withdrew $60 and in each one of them they took away $3 as “cashier’s commission” (This is the commission we told you about before, the one that was unavoidable). And yes, you do get your money’s worth. We sacrificed $12 in total so we can tell you which is the best card to withdraw money from the ATM in the United States 🙁

The final result, which was the following:

Revolut was the clear winner, subtracting £55.73 from our account. The next places on the podium were occupied by Bnext with 56.66 euros and N26 with 57.28 euros. Our La Caixa card made our hair stand on end when we paid the dollar above its price, with 62.90 eurazos.

What is the best card to buy at a store in the United States?

To find out which was the best card to buy at a store in the United States, we did the same thing, but in a shop. We chose a product that cost $13.60, and bought four units of it (it was a toy for the little ones and their friends). We did this test on the same day of the week and at the same time, but paying with our 4 usual cards. The result was as follows:

With Revolut we paid 12.06 euros, with Bnext 12.13 euros, with N26 it was 12.16 euros and with La Caixa it was 12.61 euros.

It all seems so obvious, doesn’t it? But it’s not entirely! Keep reading and we’ll give you our conclusions 😉

Conclusions to which is the best card to travel to the United States:

Based on the fact that we always recommend travelling with the 3 usual cards: Revolut, Bnext and N26, and also the usual bank card, as NONE is free to fail at any given time. Our opinion is as follows:

Revolut: We would take her to the end of the world. Accepted in 95% of the world’s shops, it makes a great change in purchase and withdrawal. Anything to say against it? Yes, you know we don’t keep quiet about it: In its free plan, the limit for withdrawing cash from an ATM is 200 euros/month, which can be a little bit short depending on the trip and also on weekends it can be a worse option since the change is a little bit worse during Saturdays and Sundays. In spite of this, it never fails in our wallet and besides, there is a trick to avoid this worst weekend change: buying dollars during the week through Revolut’s own app. These will automatically go into your dollar account and every time you make a purchase in this currency, that’s where the money will come from. With this simple trick, we avoid extra costs during the weekend. By the way, they are giving away 5 euros from our link for a very limited time, so be warned!

Bnext: another one we always take with us. Why? Because looking at numbers, in purchase it doesn’t make a very big difference and in cash withdrawal, it allows you to take out up to 500 euros a month, which can help you supplement the 200 euros of Revolut. Something wrong with Bnext? That in the United States it is not accepted in some shops, for example, we were not accepted in Shake Shack in New York. So just in case, we have to bring some backup.

N26: Let’s say that this is not the best number in a final result, but we dare say that it is accepted in almost 100% of the shops. Its 1.7% commission on cash withdrawals outside the euro zone means that it is not our first option for withdrawing money, but for purchases, it is not very badly affected and gives us the assurance that it is always accepted.

That said, when choosing a card to travel to the United States, we would take all 3 cards. With Revolut we would take out money up to 200 Euros, when we exceed that limit, we would use Bnext to have a 500 Euros more cushion and to pay in shops, we would preferably use Revolut or Bnext, but taking N26 as a support in case the shops do not recognize any of the previous cards.

Well Molaviajer@s, we hope that this post and the sacrifice of $12 we made at the ATM, have served to make you more clear what is the best card to travel to the United States. You know that if you have any doubt, we are here to help you. Thank you very much for always reading us, and more in times of coronavirus!

What is the best card to travel to the United States? was last modified: March 19th, 2020 by MolaViajar