30 June 2015 by Anna Staford
Money is one of the key elements of every journey. Whether you prefer to backpack on a budget, or relax on a luxury cruise vacation, you will need money to get you wherever you want to be and keep you warm, fed and entertained for the entire trip. Unfortunately, travellers often face many money issues abroad – from bad exchange currency rates to pickpocketed cash. The Travel Money Card was created to make all these problems easier to deal with.
Travel money cards are the prepaid currency cards that may potentially give holidaymakers better exchange rates while also being cheaper than using a debit or credit card abroad. These cards are usually issued by money changing companies and let you preload money from your bank account to the card, fixed at that day’s exchange rate.
Getting hold of a travel money card is easy. If you have a UK bank account, you can always apply online, choose the currency in which you would like your travel money card denominated, and transfer funds from your current account. Typically cards arrive in the mail five to seven days later. The balance can be checked online, by phone or, in some cases, by text.
Promoter of prepaid currency cards claim that they give you better exchange rates. This is often true, especially if we compare travel money card rates with the airport exchange rates. Also, according to mytravelmoney.co.uk prepaid currency cards beat exchange rated offered by bureau de changes and travellers cheques by 4%. Most banks will use Visa exchange rate, add exchange fee and percent of the amount withdrawn with a mandatory minimum. In this situation travel money card wins. But there are banks with better deals, which means their services might be cheaper to use than any prepaid money card.
Good exchange rate is not the only reason to choose travel money cards over debit and credit cards. Tourists are the likeliest victims of pickpockets, and finding yourself with no money in a foreign country sounds like a nightmare scenario. With travel money card, you don’t have to carry piles of money around or stand in line to exchange them. You don’t need to calculate the numbers when exchanging cash, fearing frauds. Note, that if your prepaid currency card gets stolen or lost, it will be protected by a chip and pin system like other bank cards, but as they are not connected to any of your accounts, fraudsters won’t ever be able to get access to your funds. Also, there is no way you could run up a debt on a travel money card, so you can budget exactly for the amount of money you want to spend on a trip.
If you decide to get a travel moneycard, beware the small-print charges that can often be bigger than any saving such cards may offer. Make sure you understand all terms and conditions before you choose the card-providing company. Take out an appropriate travel insurance policy for your journey to make sure you will be financially protected while away.