I’ve reviewed a ton of things in the last 12 years in tech but a bank account of mine was not one of them. I thought it would be useful to share my experience with the FNB Global Account especially if you travel fairly often.
Last October, I saw a notification on the FNB app about its new Global Account, which comes with a Debit Card but the reason it caught my eye was the free lounge access you get around the world with LoungeKey (FNB has killed off its Priority Pass benefit). I applied for it immediately and a card was delivered soon after. FYI, the account without a debit card or lounge access existed before, but now it’s more useful for travellers.
My account is in Euros, and allows me to receive payment from overseas should I ever need this feature, but the good news is that this account comes for different currencies like US dollar, or UK pound (I don’t have a list of all, you can check with FNB if you want to know). You can have as many accounts as you want, and you would only need the corresponding card for whichever destination you are traveling to. I don’t keep the card in my wallet in SA.
However, it came in handy during my December travels to Europe. I was told initially to activate my card, I should load some currency on it. This is convenient because it can be done from the FNB banking app as it is a transfer of money between accounts. I loaded R1000 to activate it, which cost R29 in commission, and gave me €61. So I tried using it for the first time to pay for coffee at the Paris airport but it didn’t go through; and only worked after I withdrew money from an ATM. Just like any other FNB card, it probably gets activated once you use it in an ATM first (I know there is also an option to activate your cards from the app, but I prefer putting it into an ATM).
I love that the card is contactless (Tap and Pay), and lets me pay for stuff in the Euro zone as if I were a local; meaning the rate is 1:1 once you’ve loaded currency on it. The benefit of having this debit card is that your transactions overseas are charged for immediately and there’s no delay like with a credit card where it’s processed days later with a different exchange rate than when you swiped. I paid for stuff like I would in SA, by tapping my card. It’s very convenient. The only thing I need to be a bit more patient with is for Fitbit Pay to support the card on the wallet (hope someone at FNB is reading this).
I personally don’t buy forex and the one time I tried to, I was told my credit card name that is on my maiden name didn’t match my passport & ticket name and proof of address (UGH, I blame Home Affairs for this and OBVIOUSLY I’m lying about who I am). I usually swipe my cards or use an ATM overseas to withdraw cash if I really need to.
A solution like this is ideal for my travel needs and so far, having only used it once, I quite like the offering and hope this doesn’t change. You get 10 lounge visits a year and you can take a guest which comes off your free visits.
If you already bank with FNB and travel often, it is worth considering opening up a Global Account 👍🏼 (if you have any questions, please contact FNB directly).
Welcome to Wired to the Web. My name is Nafisa Akabor and I’m a technology journalist covering business and consumer tech for the last 13 years. I’m passionate about start-ups, smartphones, mobile payments, travel tech and electric cars. I’m usually unashamedly taking food photos (@nafisaeats on IG).