Travel Money Cards
Travel money cards allow you to make purchases and cash withdrawals in foreign countries. They're a popular choice for travellers, as they're a safe and hassle-free option if you don't want to carry a wad of cash around. Many organisations allow you to load your travel money onto a card, and each offer different fees and conversion rates.
What is a travel money card?
It's a prepaid currency card that you load up before you travel. Depending on the type of card you buy, you can use it in up to 36 million locations worldwide and spend your money in shops, online or over the phone.
How does a travel money card work?
Once you've bought your travel money card, you'll be given a personal PIN number. Then, you load your card up with a foreign currency of your choice and are charged the exchange rate set by the card provider. When you use it abroad, the money is taken off. You'll be able to complete currency card transactions at any card machine or ATM with the corresponding Mastercard or Visa logo, depending on your card provider.
How to top up a travel money card
If you run out of funds during your travels, you can top up your card online, by phone or by text. Bear in mind, though, that adding funds by phone could be expensive if your mobile network charges you for international calls.
Are travel money cards a good idea?
Travel money cards are a secure alternative to carrying around cash. So, if you want to take a dip in the sea or hand your bag into a cloakroom while you explore a tourist attraction, you can rest assured your money is safe. Even if your card is stolen, you can ask your provider to block it immediately. You may even be able to get a quick replacement.
Prepaid currency cards are also a great choice if you find it hard to stick to a budget. You can only spend the money you've loaded onto them, so you won't get into debt. Also, you can save money by being savvy and loading your card before currency exchange rates worsen.
However, there are a few downsides to travel money cards. They're not protected by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) and you may be charged a number of fees for using them. These can include card set-up, monthly and spending fees, but the best currency cards won't apply these.