Do I need a credit card when travelling South East Asia?
If you don’t have a credit card yet, you might wonder if you need to get one before you leave on your trip.
Nowadays, many booking websites accept online payments methods like Paypal, Alipay or Ideal. However, this is not true for all booking websites. The cheapest flight you found on Skyscanner can sometimes only be booked with a credit card or charges extra fees for payment methods like Paypal.
Also booking accommodations without a credit card can be quite a challenge. Some accommodations on Booking.com can be booked with Paypal or Ideal, but most reservations cannot be completed without a credit card.
Good news for travellers from Europe: N26 Bank offers a free Mastercard that you can use to complete all your bookings.
The debit card is completely free and works exactly like all other credit cards. It has the same number and a security code that you need to use for every booking or payment. Don’t have the card with you? No problem, their mobile app is one of the best banking apps out there what makes it really easy to manage your transactions while being on the road.
Another big money-saver is that they don’t charge extra commissions for foreign transactions and only charge 1.7% ATM withdrawal fees (most cards charge 3%-5%).
Unfortunately, this perfect travel card is only available for people living in the EU. You can visit the N26 website to see the full list of countries that they send the Mastercard.
How it works
- Apply for an account in less than 8 minutes
- Your credit card will be send to your home in a few days
- Download the N26 app and continue the registration process
- Transfer an x amount to your debit card to start using your card and saving lots of money on fees
How can this card be completely free?
When you sign up for the basic plan, you pay zero annual contribution fees. And even better, they send you the card within a few days to your home address, completely free.
To good to be true?
No.. The reason they can offer this card for free is that they have a large marketing budget. It is the fastest growing online bank and currently has a valuation of $2.7B!
By keeping everything online, they keep the costs low. Also does it make a big difference that this is not a credit card, but a debit card. That means you have to put a deposit on the card before you can use it. Credit cards charge higher fees, because they need to fund it themselves and also take more risk by paying everything in advance.
So how do they earn money?
The basic plan is the one that is completely free, but for the N26 Black or Metal card, you need to pay a fee. This comes with extra’s like insurance, free withdrawals worldwide and other exclusive offers.
You already receive most benefits with the free account, like no transaction fees, low ATM fees and a very easy to use app. But if you are also interested in the other extra’s the N26 Black or Metal card might be a better option for you.
The Pros and Cons of the N26 Mastercard
Lowest ATM fees
No charges on foreign transactions
No salary requirements (even students can apply)
Exclusive to Europeans
No interest earnings on your balance
*When you sign-up for a new account, you will receive the Mastercard in a few days on your doorstep.