Prepaid travel cards
Find out if a prepaid travel card is right for you before booking your trip abroad.
When you’re going abroad, a travel card can be less stressful than a regular bank card. Plus, if you play your (literal) cards right, there are some serious savings to be made along the way. This guide will take you through the benefits of prepaid travel cards and help you compare some of the best options currently available for travellers.
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What are the benefits of using a travel card?
- Safer than carrying cash. This is the main advantage of a travel card. You don’t have to worry about losing loads of money, or getting pick pocketed on the beach.
- Works like a debit card. Unlike a credit card, you won’t be able to run up debts on a prepaid travel card.
- Choice of currencies. Most travel card providers offer a range of currencies for you travel card.
- Good for budgeting. One of the best things about a travel card is that once it’s loaded it is loaded. You can’t run up debts, and it helps you to keep on top of how much you’re spending.
- Good to give to youngsters going on their first holiday. For the same reason, travel cards are good to give to first time holidayers. It’s a good way to teach kids how to spend responsibly, but without much risk.
- Better rates than banks. Most prepaid card companies offer a more competitive rate than banks, and certainly better than a Bureau de Change in airports or in foreign countries.
What should I look out for when comparing travel cards?
- Topping up Most prepaid card companies allow you to do this while you’re abroad, but make sure you check out how to do it. There’s nothing worse than being out of money while on holiday, and being forced to withdraw money at a terrible rate. A lot of companies have apps, or will let you top up over text. Also, be sure to check how much this might cost you.
- Fees. This is where travel card companies make a lot of their money. Check the fees before you sign up, and check with finder.com/uk to see if you can find a better deal.
- Rates. Similar to fees, you should also keep on eye on exchange rates and make sure you’re getting a fair deal. Many travel card companies will match a better exchange rate from a rival company so this is something to be aware of.
- Protection. This might go without saying, but it’s important for you to be aware of where you stand if things go wrong. Check the company’s policies regarding lost, stolen, or undelivered cards.
What’s the alternative to using a travel card?
There’s a range of alternatives to using travel cards, but possibly the best of the lot is digital banking apps. The reason why being that most, if not all, of the major names in this field charge zero transaction and withdrawal fees. You can also manage the whole process on your phone, saving on the stress of having to make an appointment at your local bank branch or post office. Apps like Starling and Revolut have favourable fees when spending abroad.
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