What is a travel money card?
You’ve probably heard of a travel money card before when purchasing foreign currency, but many of us are still uncertain as to what they do, what they cost, and if they’re actually safe to use when we jet off on our holidays.
In the past, travellers cheques or good old cash were the best way of taking money abroad, but in recent years more of us are becoming savvy about using plastic, instead.
A Travel money card, sometimes referred to as currency cards, are a great way of keeping cash safe whilst travelling. They help to control spending efficiently throughout the duration of your trip. You pre-load them before you go, meaning all your money is safe in one place at one given time.
Think of them a bit like a debit card, but without the worry of added charges, or exceeding a carefully planned budget. It’s an easy and very modern way of travelling with cash.
You can purchase at all major currency outlets before your trip, but remember to do your research first to get the best rate.
Then, use as you would a debit card, in restaurants, bars, shops, and tourist attractions. You can also withdraw cash, too. However, if you’re travelling around your destination, some petrol stations or car hire don’t accept them, so be aware of what you can and can’t buy before you arrive.
What do they cost?
The cards themselves are free to purchase, all you need to pay is the currency you’ll be loading onto it.
When it comes to exchange rates, all providers will be different, so to make sure you get the best one, whether that’s for USD, or the best Euro exchange rate, research prior to any purchase is key. Use one of the many online tools to see which suits if you need any help.
Also, check if your provider charges fees for transactions, as some might prove more expensive than others.
Most will charge basic fees for cash withdraws, but this is usually very low (around 2%).
Are they safe?
Yes, as they’re loaded before you go, and work in the same way as your debit card at home, it’s an extremely safe option.
In the event of it being stolen, you report this to your provider who will be able to instantly block it. There’s a chance you might have to pay a small fee for a replacement card, but you won’t have to pay any of the charges if it’s been used without your permission.
Age restrictions – Cards can only be purchased by those 18 and over.
Credit check – There are no credit checks when applying for cards. These are debit cards, not credit cards.
Multiple currencies – If your trip exceeds more than one country, some providers will allow you to load multiple currencies on your card.
Limits – Each provider varies with this, so check the terms and conditions before you commit, especially if it’s a long trip, or the card contains money for multiple travellers.