WISE Debit Card

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Before we start … let us define the word ‘wise’.

Define WISE

Signing up for a Wise Debit Card was one of the best decisions that I have ever made (as a ‘traveler’). It saves me money and makes my life easier.

I have been stupid … I have traveled around the World for 8 years! … thinking that paying 3% to get my money … was ‘normal’. I found out … that 3% is not. I got WISE!

I recommend that you have a look: follow this link.

  1. I can spend / send money in any of those currencies without fees
  2. I can set up Direct Debits in the UK, Europe, US and Canada
  3. I can pay in the local currency of any country, avoid ‘Dynamic Currency Conversion fees’, and trust Wise to give me an excellent ‘real’ exchange rate
  4. I can securely authorise payments using the Wise App on my smartphone
  5. I receive instant notifications on my smartphone of every transaction
  6. I can use Google Pay or Apple Pay in supported countries
  7. I have a ‘Digital’ Debit Card that I can use for online purchases

This is how it works for me …


I am from New Zealand, so my main bank is in NZ and my money is mainly NZ$s. I have a business in the USA which earns US$s. My family are in the UK, so sometimes I need GB£s.

I set up 3 Wise account balances: NZ$, US$, and GB£.

As Good as a Bank Checking Account

Think of each ‘balance’ as working like a separate bank checking account  … they just contain different currencies. There are no monthly fees.

I keep a small ‘float’ in each of these balances and top up that float as and when required. It usually takes 2-3 business days for money to arrive from outside sources. The Wise account balances do not earn interest, so I make sure that I have enough ‘float’ in each account but not too much.

I can transfer money between my Wise accounts at the ‘real’ exchange rate with a small fee. This means that I can wait until the exchange rate is in my favour if, say, I want to convert my US$s into NZ$s and transfer that money out of Wise into my main NZ Bank Account.


Each Wise account balance comes with full bank account details applicable to that currency’s country.

For example, for my US$ balance I have (1) ACH and Wire routing number (2) bank account number (3) USA bank address. If someone in the USA wants to send me US$s I give them these details. If someone from outside of the USA wants to send me US$s, I also have a SWIFT/BIC number that they can use.


If I use my Wise Debit Card to buy goods in NZ$s, US$s or GB£s the amount is deducted from that balance without fees.

If I use my Wise Debit Card to buy goods in other currencies, I always choose to pay in that country’s currency and I let Wise automatically choose which balance to debit and do the exchange rate conversion at their ‘real’ exchange rates.

If I have to send money to a 3rd party, Wise works like any other online banking service. I just ask the 3rd party for their bank account details and send them the money. If I am sending NZ$s, US$s or GB£s it is easy. If I am sending another currency Wise charge (1) a fixed fee and (2) a conversion fee … but, it still works out a lot cheaper than using my NZ Bank.


Wise only allow you to withdraw upto US$300 from ATMs per month without fees. Once you exceed US$300 Wise charge a fee.

For that reason, I tend to use my normal Bank Debit Card for ATM withdrawals …

… and I use my Wise Debit Card for everything else.


One of my main problems with Credit & Debit Cards is that I am always on the move … when they expire it can be difficult to get a new one (1) sent safely to my country / address (2) get to me in time before I’ve gone. In fact, when I signed up for my Wise Debit Card, I had to send the physical card to my address in New Zealand … I have never seen it and I have never used it.

With Wise, I have a Digital Debit Card as well as a physical one. It does exactly the same as a physical one. I can set up more than one if I want to.

Obviously, I can’t use it in an ATM but (as aforementioned) I don’t use my Wise Debit Card to take out money from ATMs.

I use this Digital Debit Card to make all of my online purchases.


I made a purchase on a Philippines website using my ‘Digital’ Wise Debit Card. The price was PHP1,865. This is how Wise processed that transaction:

Wise automatically chose to debit my NZ$ balance and converted the PHP1,856 at the Wholesale Exchange Rate to NZ$52.16. Wise charged a conversion fee of NZ$0.29c (0.56%).

NZ$0.29c is less than 1/5th of what I would have paid using my normal Bank Debit Card (who charge about 3%).

PLEASE NOTE: PHP is not a major Wise currency. If I had made a purchase from, say, a European Union website in EU€, I would have paid a lower conversion fee.


I bought a new laptop computer on Lazada, Philippines. I knew that I was going to make this purchase … so I pre-loaded my Wise NZ$ account balance 3 days before I made the purchase … to make sure that the money was there. I was in The Philippines, I was on a Philippines website, and I paid in PHP: PHP48,016.

The XE.COM Wholesale Exchange Rate was:

This is what happened on Wise:

Wise gave me a Wholesale Exchange Rate of 35.55 (which was better than XE). Wise charged me a NZ$7.43 conversion fee … 0.55%!


I needed to pay PHP70,000 for my 2 month rental apartment in Boracay, Philippines.

XE.COM converted PHP70,000 as US$1,264.15 at the Wholesale Exchange Rate.

Most ATMs in The Philippines have a PHP10,000 maximum withdrawal. I would have to do 7x PHP10,000 transactions. I took out PHP10,000 from an ATM in Manila Airport. With the Philippines Foreign Card ATM fee, the Visa exchange rate conversion fee, and the Visa commission … I lost 6%. To use an ATM to get this PHP70,000 would actually cost me US$1,340 … about US$76 in fees.

I got the hotel’s bank details and paid using my Wise US$ balance. This is the Wise price.

Wise converted at the Wholesale Exchange Rate and charged a 0.58% exchange rate conversion fee (on some more popular currencies, this is 0.28%) plus a US$0 fixed fee. Using Wise, my costs were US$7.33 … I saved about US$68.50 on that example alone. US$7.33  is about 1/10th of what it would have cost me if I used an ATM.

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