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Post Office vs Currensea - What’s the best card for your next trip

Who is the Post Office?

The Post Office is a well-known high-street brand, trusted by millions for postage, government, and financial services through its wide network of branches. However they are not the ones to deliver your mail, that is the Royal Mail, and is a different business to the Post Office.

What card options and plans do the Post Office offer?

The Post Office offers one simple plan, their basic Post Office Travel Money Card. While the card is free to get, there is a minimum load amount of £50 of whichever of the 23 currencies you choose. 

What are Post Office fees when spending abroad? 

Terms such as fee-free, no commission, and zero charges are used a lot by travel money providers, and the Post Office is no different when it comes to marketing their card, which offers 0% commission. But as with most others, there is often a hidden fee under the bonnet. After all, how else would a provider make any money? 

So what fees does the Post Office charge? 

The Post Office Travel Money Card hidden fees

All of the above fees can be found in the Post Office terms and conditions, pages 12-15

We took a look at the EUR exchange rate they offered when loading the card before purchase, when we compare this to the interbank (real) rate we can also see a hidden charge in the FX rate of 3.8%! 

We checked a few currency conversions and there is a maximum hidden FX fee of 3.78%
across all when loading up to £499.

A great indicator as to whether there are hidden fees or not, is if a better rate is offered when loading more money as you can see here: 

Post Office Travel Money card hidden fees

Even with the better rate there is still a hidden fee of 2.4% when compared to the live interbank rate at the time. 

Post office Travel Money Card hidden fees

It’s also worth noting that if you use your Post Office card to withdraw cash abroad, you will be charged at the point of loading your desired currency (the  FX mark-up rate ), you will then be charged a minimum of £1.50 per ATM withdrawal  on top of this. So withdrawing £100 worth of currency could  cost around £5.20. 

Why would you use a Post Office Travel Money Card? 

More often than not the Post Office works out more expensive than if you were to use your high-street bank account. However, you may like the functionality of separating your holiday spend from your main bank account by preloading the card. 

The Post Office Travel Card could also be a good solution if you have younger family members travelling abroad and want to help them fund their trip, but don’t want to give access to large amounts of money or for them to use their bank card while abroad. The Post Office travel money card would allow you to top up from afar and smaller amounts (although other card providers do allow limits to be set up on the card or account, which could solve this particular issue). 

Who is Currensea?

Currensea was founded by James Lynn and Craig Goulding in 2018, then launched in 2019 aimed at reducing  hidden FX fees for travellers when spending abroad and the hassle of topping up or prepaying. 

Currensea is the UK’s first Direct Debit Travel Card. The layer in front of your current bank account, saving you money, giving you extra security and making your bank work that bit harder for you.

What are they offering?

Currensea partners with your current bank account to save you at least 85% on the high-street banks fees and charges on all overseas transactions. Unlike other travel cards, there is no need to prepay, no need to top-up and no need for a new bank account. Spend as seamlessly abroad as you do at home, with the money only debited from your existing bank account after you’ve spent.

What are the different charges applied by Currensea?

Currensea offers 15 currencies at the real (interbank) rate and 165 currencies at the Mastercard rate (which is the rate also used by Monzo, Starling and many other FinTechs). When signing up for the free plan, users will be charged at a flat FX mark-up rate of 0.5% over these two base rates - with no extra charges over a certain amount or at weekends, it's that simple.

What card options and plans does Currensea offer?

Currensea currently offers three pricing plans. The Essential plan is free to use, the Premium plan is £25 per year and the Elite plan is £120 per year. The Essential Plan charges 0.5% FX per transaction, whereas the Premium and Elite plan incur no fees. The Elite plan also includes a host of exclusive benefits and memberships, as well as the exclusive Currensea black card. 

Currensea has no additional weekend charges, or fair usage limits on any plan.

Pricing plans offered by Currensea

So how does Currensea compare to Post Office TMC?

Currensea vs Post Office

 

In real terms what is cheaper (and when)?

When comparing Post Office and Currensea, Currensea will always be the cheaper option when spending abroad. This is due to the hidden FX charge when pre-loading and exchanging to your desired currency on a Post Office Travel Money card. 

More often than not, The Post Office Travel Money card also works out more expensive than your high-street bank, so it’s definitely important to check the exchange rate before ordering your card. 

Here are the total charges when you spend $5,000 dollars ($500 of that in cash). 

Charges Currensea vs post office and high-street bank



View our comparison table to find out more including how we calculated the above charges.