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Prepaid Travel Cards – Make Foreign Spending Safe and Affordable

May 30, 2016

Prepaid travel cards as the name suggests are used for travelling and need to be loaded with money much before its use. It is cheaper than using a debit or credit card while on a trip. Using the card is a safer option than carrying cash and also gives better exchange rates. Available with single or multiple currency options, the card can be a single shot money solution for all your travels.

How to get a prepaid travel card?

You can apply online or on paper anytime and the card will be posted to you by the provider. Choose the currency of the holiday destination while applying and load it with money from any of your current bank accounts. The card will be delivered by post within five to seven days. All you have to do is top up and check the balance online. You can also check it on a mobile phone app. This is the simple way of getting a prepaid travel card.

How is it better than using credit or debit cards overseas?

  • This depends on the way you spend. Most of the credit card charges 2-3% of fees for purchases made abroad. This is not the case with travel cards.
  • Next big thing to keep in mind is that prepaid cards are 8% cheaper than currency exchange made at airports and 4% cheaper than bureau de changes and travellers cheques. This makes it an affordable option for currency exchange.
  • There are no chances of theft of cash. All you carry is your card which should be guarded. Pin protected the card can help you withdraw cash as and when required. But, it is always a good practice to not use it for smaller transactions like withdrawing cash for multiple times.
  • Some cards also offer cash back on purchases abroad. This is not the case with all prepaid travel cards. You need to check the small print to get all the details.

How to select the best prepaid card for travel abroad?

It depends totally on your travel habits and current circumstances. Although there aren’t any rules of thumb to choose a travel card, still certain things need to be considered for an easy bet.

Choice of currency: All prepaid travel cards may not offer all the currencies. It is practically difficult. Some offer multiple currencies and some are limited to major currencies only. While selecting your card, you have to ensure that it supports the currency of your holiday destination.

The reach of the card: Check whether your card will be accepted across the globe or not. A card that is valid for all countries helps even in the case of emergencies. MasterCard and Visa card have a global reach.

Cash limits: You will have to go through security checks if you wish to exchange thousands of pounds. Check with your provider about the cash limit and the taxes to be paid on money spent above the cash limit. The higher the cash limit, the better the card.

Extra charges and fees: Read the small print for extra charges like exchange fees, loading fees, withdrawal fees, non-usage fees and more. Bear in mind that these charges will make your travel prepaid card a little expensive.

Exchange rates: You need to find a card that offers currency exchange at affordable rates. The exchange rate changes with currency providers and so, choose a card provider that gets you the best exchange rates. Choose a card provider that does not charge you extra for currency exchange.

To sum up, prepaid travel cards hold more goodies than guns. They are a convenient way of managing expenses abroad. They are easy to acquire and suit short term and long term travels. One must get one to enjoy holidays without overspending.

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