Prepaid Travel Cards for Your Next Trip | Finder Canada

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Prepaid travel money cards

Whether you're looking to spend in multiple currencies, avoid foreign transaction fees or spend with your own cash, consider a prepaid travel money card.

There are plenty of ways to take your cash overseas, but the right option will depend on your finances, travel plans and spending habits. Use this guide to weigh the features, fees and benefits of a prepaid travel money to help you find the best travel money option for your next overseas trip.

How do prepaid travel cards work?

A prepaid travel money card allows you to load and spend several types of currency on one piece of plastic. This ultimately allows you to spend overseas without paying a currency conversion fee. Before traveling to your destination, make sure your card supports the local currency to ensure you’ll benefits from its features.

Prepaid travel cards also let you lock-in exchange rates before you travel. By knowing exactly what exchange rate you’re getting and how much money you have on the card, you’ll be able to budget more efficiently.

Why you might consider a prepaid travel card

  • Preload and lock in your exchange rate before you travel
  • Load and spend several different currencies
  • No currency conversion fee
  • No international ATM withdrawal fee
  • Not linked to your savings account
  • Comes with a backup card

What to know about travel money cards

When comparing a prepaid travel money card to another form of travel money, there are some factors you should be aware of in order to make the best possible decision — fees, acceptance and exchange rate.

Fees

  • Initial load fee. You may be charged a fee when you first load funds on the card.
  • Reload fees. Some cards charge a fee each time you load funds.
  • ATM withdrawal fees. Depending on the card, you may be subject to this fee when withdrawing money. Remember that local ATM fees may still apply.
  • Inactivity fee. An inactivity fee is charged if you don’t use the card (usually after 12 months).
  • Currency conversion fees. When you complete a purchase overseas in a currency that isn’t loaded on your card, you’ll be hit with a currency conversion fee.

Acceptance

Always check the available currencies on the card to make sure you’ll be able to spend in the places you plan to visit. This will ensure you won’t tack on the currency conversion fee. As far as being an acceptable form of payment — if the card is a Visa or Mastercard — you’ll have no problem spending at any place that accepts credit cards.

Exchange rate

Prepaid travel cards allow you to preload and secure your currency. In terms of receiving the best exchange rate, you can either preload currency or withdraw when you arrive at your destination.

While the exchange rate may be a little lower than the market rate, you are safeguarding yourself from receiving a worse exchange rate closer to your trip.

Pros and cons of prepaid travel money cards

Pros

  • Spend like a local. Prepaid travel cards allow you to preload multiple foreign currencies while avoiding the currency conversion fee.
  • Backup card. Prepaid travel cards come with a backup in case the first card is lost or stolen.
  • Manage your travel budget. Reload the card when you need funds with a locked in exchange rate. This protects you from exchange rate fluctuations and also allows you effectively budget.

Cons

  • Travel card fees. Each card will come with different fees such as initial load fees, reload fees, ATM fees and inactivity fees.
  • Reloading time. It can take anywhere from two to three business days for the transaction to process — don’t forget about extra time for holidays or weekends.

Bottom line

Prepaid travel cards are a convenient way to spend money overseas. They allow you to manage your budget better and spending locally is easy. Beware the fees to load these cards and the time lag it may take to re-load them.

Not sure if prepaid cards are the right option for you? Visit our travel money page to explore other methods of spending while you’re away.

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