If you shop online, travel, or work remotely, pay attention because the Wise debit card can save you money!
We’ve been using the Wise card abroad for a couple of years now and since November 30th, 2021, the Wise debit card is officially available in Canada.
So what exactly is the Wise debit card, what are the pros and cons, and should you get one?
What is the Wise Debit Card?
The Wise Visa card is a contactless multi-currency card that enables you to hold over 50 different currencies all in one place and pay anywhere in the world.
You might think that’s nothing revolutionary.
However, what makes this card stand out is the possibility to pay in foreign currencies at the mid-market exchange rate without any hidden foreign transaction fees or high markup on conversion rates.
Wise offers one of the best international money transfer services we’ve come across.
The Wise debit card is linked to your Wise account.
According to research, Wise charges on average 4x less than other Canadian banks when it comes to sending money across borders, making purchases on your travels, or paying online with other currencies.
How Does a Wise Debit Card Work?
1. Pay In a Local Currency When You Travel
It’s an international debit card that allows you to hold over 50 currencies, so you can always pay in a local currency when you travel.
You can convert money into local currency at the real exchange rate (without hidden fees) directly on the Wise app or your laptop.
Alternatively, the Wise debit card will automatically charge you the foreign currency from your account balance that has the best exchange rate with its auto convert feature.
That means saving a lot of money on conversion rates and fees.
Although the Wise debit card is especially suitable for payments abroad, you can also use it in your home country as a regular debit card. It works just like any other debit card.
Beyond this, the Wise debit card enables 2 Free ATM withdrawals of up to 350 CAD a month anywhere in the world.
After that, you’ll be charged $1.50 CAD per ATM transaction. This is a fixed fee. Bear in mind, the other bank at which you use ATM might still charge you a small fee.
If you take out over 350 CAD in one month, there’s also 1.75% on top of that.
Although that might seem high, ATM withdrawals abroad are still about 3x cheaper than other traditional banks. On top of that, in most places, you can pay by card anyway.
2. Shop Online Internationally With Wise Virtual Cards
Banks usually charge you around 3-6% on foreign money transactions. Wise doesn’t charge you anything. How cool is that!
When shopping online, always make sure to pay in the local currency.
You can also apply for 3 Wise virtual cards alongside your physical green Wise Visa debit card.
The Wise virtual card will generate different card details. This way you can keep your physical card details safe when you pay with different merchants or via phone call.
A wise digital card can also come in handy if you lose your physical card and need to make an urgent purchase. They are great for testing free trials if you want to avoid paying recurring bills.
After your free trial expires and if you do not wish to continue the membership, you can simply delete your virtual card. The virtual card details can be instantly replaced or deleted.
3. Get Paid For Your Online Work
With a Wise account, you can get paid from over 30 countries in the world.
Another wonderful perk is when you open a Wise account, you’ll automatically receive bank account details for many different countries:
- United States
- United Kingdom
- New Zealand
If you’re a digital nomad or have a side hustle, you’ll love this feature.
Let’s say you have someone paying you or sending you money in US dollars or New Zealand dollars. You can give them your Wise USD or NZD account details. This way you will not lose money on conversion or foreign transaction fees.
4. Enjoy Expat Life With More Convenience
Expat life comes with many benefits but also challenges. One of these challenges used to be moving money abroad between different currencies.
Banks are generally pretty good when it comes to in-land banking and holding money in one currency.
However, when you’re transferring money across countries, they tend to charge a lot. Wise makes international transfers a lot more convenient and economical.
It works both ways whether you want to move money from your home country to Canada or from Canada to your home country.
You can override these high banking fees by sending your Canadian dollars to your Wise account via online bill payment.
Here is the list of banks and credit unions in Canada that allow you to add Wise as a bill payee:
- Bank of Montreal
- National Bank of Canada
- Central 1 Credit Unions*
- EQ Bank
- CS Alterna Bank
- Manulife Bank of Canada
- First Calgary Financial
*Many banks are part of Central 1 Credit Unions
Find out more info on how to send Canadian dollars via bill payments.
Is Wise Debit Card Canada Free?
It’s free and easy to open a Wise account if you don’t have one yet. There are zero monthly fees.
You’ll need to deposit at least 20 USD or an equivalent amount in another currency into your borderless account in order to activate it if you’re a new user.
This isn’t a fee, the money is yours and it will remain in your account. The card has no annual fees.
Top Benefits of Using a Wise Debit Card
- No annual Fees
- Low Conversion Fees
- Real exchange rate
- Auto Convert Feature
- Possibility to hold multiple currencies
- Local bank details for multiple currencies
- User-Friendly App
- 2 Free ATM withdrawals anywhere in the world up to 350 CAD /month
- Apple Pay, Google Pay, Samsung Pay compatible
- Backed by VISA
- Option to set debit card limits for fraud prevention
- Customer service available
What Are the Drawbacks?
- No Canadian ATM withdrawals
- High ATM withdrawal fees (1.75%) (but you have a fee-free cash withdrawal a month up to $350)
- You’ll still need to pay some currency conversion fees, although there are lower than the fees you would pay in other Canadian banks
- No access to credit
Is Wise Canada Safe?
Wise Payments Canada Inc. is registered with FINTRAC as a Money Service Business (MSB) with registration number M15193392.
Wise also has an MSB license with the Authorité des Marchés Financiers (AMF) under license number 902804.
Millions of users worldwide including me trust Wise and use it safely for their transactions. Personally, I’ve never had an issue using Wise and their customer support was always very helpful.
How To Get a Wise Debit Card in Canada?
If you already have a Wise account, just log in and apply for a card.
If you don’t have the account yet, just follow a very simple and quick step-by-step process as outlined below:
1. Open Wise account online for free.
2. Verify your identity with an identification document. There might be other document requirements, such as proof of address.
3. Top up your Wise multi-currency with a minimum of 20 USD or an equivalent amount in another currency.
4. Apply for a card for free. There are no annual fees.
5. Wait for your card to be delivered. It takes about 14 business days.
6. Activate your card via the mobile app and set your PIN code.
7. That’s it!
Wise, with its debit card, is a simple and transparent tool for international money transfers while keeping the fees and exchange rates very minimal. It’s one of the most convenient and economical ways to move and manage money across borders that I’ve come across thus far.
The Wise account and Wise debit card is a great choice, especially if you travel, send money overseas, get paid or shop online in different currencies.