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Clare's view:

The Verdict

Average Success Rate

50%
The following dataset includes the performances of ready-made portfolios/funds offered by investment platforms and may include both actively and passively managed ready-made portfolios/funds. Performance indicated is also net of all fees to 31st January 2024, unless stated otherwise; any tiered fee structure will be disclosed. Ready-made portfolios/funds that include cryptocurrencies or any other securities outside cash and equities are not included in the dataset. The dataset only includes ready-made portfolios/funds which are explicitly advertised by their respective platforms as being for ‘beginners’, and which are exclusively offered by the platform itself. Funds which are managed by other providers and may be identically offered across multiple platforms were not included in this dataset. For example, the Vanguard UK All Share Acc. ETF was offered by Plum, but as it is not directly managed by Plum and customers could reasonably access it on multiple platforms, it was not included for the purposes of this research. Other discretely advertised securities or investments are not included.
info5-year performance across all Currensea ready-made portfolios.
26.4%
The industry average is the median average of all fund/ready-made portfolio performance figures we collated from 23 investment providers. To see the full dataset, visit X page.
infoIndustry average
Currensea is specifically designed to lower your costs when spending money abroad. Unlike Wise or Revolut, however, it doesn't require you to open a new account and put money in. Instead, it links up with your regular bank account via Open Banking networks, and manages your transactions from there, charging you via direct debit for the costs of the exchanges.

A note on that, however: Currensea doesn't link-up with neobanks or digital banks like Monzo, Revolut, Starling, Chase, and Kroo. It only works with high street banks.

If you like this set-up (I do), it certainly makes for a convenient travel money option. There are fantastic exchange rates, zero fees for using their services if you go for the Essentials plan, and zero fees for exchanging money if you go for the paid Premium or Elite plans. Of course, one way or the other, you end up paying for a service (I'd be calling it a scam if you didn't!). But overall, when you compare the costs of spending abroad with Currensea with the fees charged by your regular high street bank without a Currensea card linked, then it's a no-brainer. This is a cheap way to spend money abroad.
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quote

Pros

  • Uses the interbank exchange rate (the real exchange rate) with no mark-up
  • Zero foreign exchange fees for paid plan-holders
  • As Currensea links up with your main bank account, you don't need to keep topping up a secondary account or card while you're away
  • Works seamlessly with all of the 180 currencies worldwide
  • 93% of Trustpilot reviews are 5-star
  • Virtual and physical debit card available for free
  • £500 (or £750 for Elite plan-holders) can be withdrawn from ATMs without paying a fee
quote

Cons

  • Currensea does not support Open Banking links with neobanks or digital banks like Monzo, Revolut, Starling, Chase, Kroo. It only works with high street banks.
  • Foreign exchange fees on free account more expensive than Revolut
  • Fees for using ATMs over the free allowance are high
  • Verdict5.0
  • Fees5.0
  • Safety4.0
  • Education0.0
  • Customer Service
  • Portfolio View
  • Promotions

Clare's view:

Who do I recommend it for?

Average Success Rate

50%
The following dataset includes the performances of ready-made portfolios/funds offered by investment platforms and may include both actively and passively managed ready-made portfolios/funds. Performance indicated is also net of all fees to 31st January 2024, unless stated otherwise; any tiered fee structure will be disclosed. Ready-made portfolios/funds that include cryptocurrencies or any other securities outside cash and equities are not included in the dataset. The dataset only includes ready-made portfolios/funds which are explicitly advertised by their respective platforms as being for ‘beginners’, and which are exclusively offered by the platform itself. Funds which are managed by other providers and may be identically offered across multiple platforms were not included in this dataset. For example, the Vanguard UK All Share Acc. ETF was offered by Plum, but as it is not directly managed by Plum and customers could reasonably access it on multiple platforms, it was not included for the purposes of this research. Other discretely advertised securities or investments are not included.
info5-year performance across all Currensea ready-made portfolios.
26.4%
The industry average is the median average of all fund/ready-made portfolio performance figures we collated from 23 investment providers. To see the full dataset, visit X page.
infoIndustry average
arrow-down-orangeRead more
quote

Pros

  • Uses the interbank exchange rate (the real exchange rate) with no mark-up
  • Zero foreign exchange fees for paid plan-holders
  • As Currensea links up with your main bank account, you don't need to keep topping up a secondary account or card while you're away
  • Works seamlessly with all of the 180 currencies worldwide
  • 93% of Trustpilot reviews are 5-star
  • Virtual and physical debit card available for free
  • £500 (or £750 for Elite plan-holders) can be withdrawn from ATMs without paying a fee
quote

Cons

  • Currensea does not support Open Banking links with neobanks or digital banks like Monzo, Revolut, Starling, Chase, Kroo. It only works with high street banks.
  • Foreign exchange fees on free account more expensive than Revolut
  • Fees for using ATMs over the free allowance are high
  • arrowVerdict
    5.0
  • arrow Fees:
    5.0
  • arrowSafety:
    4.0
  • arrowEducation:
    0.0
  • arrowCustomer Service:
    0
  • arrowPortfolio View
  • arrowPromotions

A quick note about terminology

There are a lot of terms used to describe foreign exchange rates and non-sterling transaction fees. My guide to FX fees will help you get a better understanding if you're understandably confused. But as a quick tip, all of the following phrases mean the same thing and are used interchangably on this page: FX fee, foreign exchange fee, currency conversion fee, non-sterling transaction fee. These phrases refer to the charge your travel money or debit card provider makes for their services in converting payments between sterling and the foreign currency you are using. It is not the same as the exchange rate, which is the value of the British pound as compared to other currencies.

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Updates

Who do I recommend Currensea for?


  • Holiday-makers and travellers

There's a free account which could suit your needs perfectly if you just want to use your Currensea card once a year on your annual summer holiday.

However, Currensea is particularly well suited to those who travel frequently. The £25 per year for a Premium account is great value when you consider you'll get the interbank exchange rate (the ‘real' exchange rate) and not need to pay any FX fees to use your card. There's also a large allowance on free cash withdrawals at overseas ATMs too.

You can only use Currensea if you bank with a traditional high street bank as these are the only banks a Currensea account will link up with. So, you won't be able to use Currensea if you bank with the likes of Monzo, Revolut, Starling or Chase.

Account type and fees


Make no mistake about it; using Currensea is one of the cheapest ways to spend money abroad.

For zero subscription fees, you can exchange currency using the interbank exchange rate (the best rate available), get a free debit card plus a virtual card in your mobile wallet, withdraw up to £500 a month fee-free from foreign ATMs, and non-sterling transaction fees that will certainly beat those levied by your high street bank.

Or, for £25 per year, you can avoid foreign exchange fees altogether (even on weekends, unlike Revolut) and use your debit card abroad as much as you like, using that best-of-the-bunch interbank exchange rate.

Whether you choose the free account or either of the paid-for accounts, may come down to how much time you spend abroad. £25 is a small price to pay if you travel regularly. In fact, it's the equivalent of spending £5,000 with a 0.5% FX charge on the free Essentials plan. So if you think you'll spend more than £5,000 abroad in a year, you'd be better off choosing the Premium plan.

There are other benefits to choosing a Premium or Elite plan which may appeal to you if you're a frequent traveller (see the table below). If you only go abroad once a year for a summer holiday, and spend less than £5000 when you're there, then you might find there's no need to upgrade to a paid account at all.

ATM withdrawals

If you withdraw £500 or less per month (£750 or less for customers on the Elite plan), then there are no ATM withdrawal fees with a Currensea card. If you go over that limit, then you'll need to pay a 2% mark-up on the exchange rate for the Essential plan, and 1% for the Premium or Elite plans, and Business/Freelance customers.

Physical debit card

Unlike Wise (and Revolut in some circumstances), you won't need to pay for a physical debit card with Currensea – it's always free.

How do Currensea fees compare to other providers?

So does this compare to Currensea's competitors? Pretty well, as you can see here:

info

Currensea vs Revolut


Revolut offers 0% FX fees on a free account – but only on weekdays and only if you spend less than £1,000 per month. If you're willing to pay for an account, Currensea offers the best deal. Its Premium plan is half the price of Revolut's lowest priced paid plan, and offers 0% FX fees, with no limits and at weekends too.

FAQs

Currensea is registered and authorised with the FCA (Financial Conduct Authority). It is also part of the Open Banking register.

No, Currensea is not a bank. It connects with your existing bank account to provide low foreign exchange fees and rates.

Currensea is a travel card. It acts as a layer in front of your current bank account giving you access to low foreign exchange fees and rates. By partnering with your existing bank account you don't need to open a new account, and can use Currensea just as you would your existing debit card anywhere that accepts Mastercard.

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