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Your guide to travel money cards

Explore the different types of cards you can consider when spending abroad.

Whether you’re looking for a credit card with low currency conversion fees or a debit card with affordable overseas ATM withdrawals, there is a range of travel money card options for you to consider.

This guide will cover the different options Netherlands residents have when they spend abroad. Compare your choices and pick the best travel money card for you.

Prepaid travel money cards

A prepaid travel money card helps you spend easily in multiple currencies while travelling. You can load your card in different currencies at competitive exchange rates. While most travellers might incur additional costs from fluctuating exchange rates, you won’t.

There’s a range of travel money prepaid cards available on the market, with different options available for spending in different countries. In order to find the option that works best for you, you should consider the availability of the following features:

  • Multi-currency wallet. Standard credit and debit cards only support a single currency, which means that you might incur currency conversion fees and an unfavourable exchange rate. With a travel money card, you’ll be able to plan your spending better and save some cash on the side.
  • Pre-loaded money. If you’re the sort who blows the shopping budget every time, this feature will come in handy for you. Travel money cards have upfront loading, so you’ll only be able to spend the amount you have added to the card. If you need more spending power, you can always reload on the go.
  • Rewards. Certain airline providers offer their own prepaid travel money cards. By using them, you’ll earn additional frequent flyer points that you can redeem at a later date. International transactions will also net you more points, compared to transactions within the Netherlands.

Travel credit cards

With a credit card, you’ll get additional spending flexibility and financial security while travelling overseas. However, do note that a travel credit card comes with other additional costs, including annual fees and interest rates. If you’re prepared to pay these additional costs, you can look for travel credit cards that don’t have currency conversion fees, foreign transaction fees or overseas ATM withdrawal fees.

Why should you use a travel credit card overseas?

  • Access to credit. With an ordinary travel money card, you might run into the limit of however much you’ve preloaded onto the card. Supposing that your credit card has a higher limit, you’ll be able to spend without topping up for longer with the credit card.
  • Low foreign transaction fees. With most travel credit cards, you’ll incur low currency conversion or ATM withdrawal fees, in contrast to regular credit cards.
  • Card security. From continuous fraud monitoring to remote card deactivation, credit cards have a range of additional features that can reduce the possibility of fraudulent transactions occurring.
  • Additional perks. Whichever credit card you’re using, you might be eligible for frequent flyer points or other monetary reward schemes for spending overseas. Such features are definitely more common in travel credit cards than ordinary travel money cards.

    What else do I need to know when using a credit card for travel?

    • Acceptance. Most Dutch credit cards are from Visa, Mastercard or American Express, and should be accepted globally. In certain countries (such as Cuba, Iran, Myanmar, North Korea, Sudan and Syria), your credit cards might not be accepted due to economic sanctions. Check with the provider to confirm whether you can use your card in a specific country before you go overseas.
    • Currency conversion. Choose a travel credit card that comes with lower currency conversion and foreign transaction fees. Otherwise, you’ll find yourself racking up unwanted fees every time you travel overseas.
    • Cash advance fees. Cash advance fees are common with overseas ATM withdrawals. If you do plan on withdrawing cash overseas, ensure that the total cost of the credit card, including the interest and credit card fees, doesn’t outweigh the benefits.

    Travel debit cards

    Travel debit cards are travel money cards that can be linked to an everyday account. That way, you’re not limited to the funds you’ve preloaded onto the card. Some debit cards are also members of international ATM alliances, which means that you might be able to skip out on overseas ATM withdrawal and currency conversion fees.

    Why should I use a debit card while travelling?

    • No interest and annual fees. Debit cards in the Netherlands rarely charge interest or annual fees.
    • Convenient cash withdrawals. If your debit card provider belongs to an international ATM alliance, you’ll be able to circumvent the usual ATM withdrawal fees. Most Dutch debit cards belong to the Maestro network, and so, withdrawals from all Maestro ATMs will be free.
    • Card fraud protection. Most dutch banks such as ABN AMRO will give clients back their money if fraudulent card use is detected. However, if it’s found that you lent out your debit card or shared your card details with others, you will not be refunded.

    What do I need to know when I travel with my debit card?

    • Currency conversion fees. Like credit cards, you can either choose to pay in the local currency or in Euros when using your debit card overseas. If you choose to pay in Euros in a non-SEPA region, your card provider will process the transaction using dynamic currency conversion, which can add up to 8% of the transaction cost.
    • Transaction fees. Barring select debit cards, most travel money cards will charge you an additional 1-4% for making transactions in a foreign currency.
    • Currency exchange rates. With Maestro and Visa, you’ll be informed of the daily exchange rate for your withdrawals. Since exchange rates fluctuate constantly, you could benefit or suffer, depending on how the exchange rate changes. If you secure a rate with a prepaid travel debit card, you’ll be able to plan out your spending better.

    What other travel money options can I consider?

    Cash

    While cards are convenient and secure, you might still want to have some foreign cash on hand when going overseas. Although digital payments have become more popular, cash is still widely accepted globally. If you end up visiting smaller stores, you’ll find that cards may not be accepted. In such situations, foreign cash could come in handy.

    Benefits of having foreign cash

    • Universal acceptance. As long as you have the right denomination and currency, you’ll be able to use cash anywhere.
    • No minimum transaction amounts. Even if a business accepts payment via debit or credit card, you’ll find that they might have a minimum transaction requirement.
    • Fixed exchange rates. By converting your cash into the foreign currency of choice before going overseas, you can avoid the stress of finding a favourable exchange rate while overseas. By locking in your exchange rates, you’ll also have a better idea of exactly how much you can spend while travelling.

    Other factors to consider when getting foreign cash

    • Currency conversion. You should convert your cash to the desired currency before travelling overseas. Plan ahead of time to find the best cost-efficient currency conversion service.
    • Money orders. If you’re planning on leaving the Netherlands for a more uncommon destination, chances are that you might not be able to source enough cash beforehand. If you’ve planned ahead, you should check for such issues before requesting an exchange.
    • Security. Compared to a debit card, cash is easier to lose. Keep your money on you at all times or lock it up securely.

    Frequently asked questions about travel money cards

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