Prepaid travel cards

Find out if a prepaid travel card is right for you before booking your trip abroad.

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Taking a travel card is less stressful than taking a regular bank card. There’s also a load of savings to be made! This guide will take you through the benefits, and let you compare some of the best options for holiday goers.

Good for any prospective holiday-goer to bear in mind, though, is that while the traditional way of getting travel money is all well and good, there’s a range of digital apps that can make the process even simpler. These include Starling, Revolut and N26. If these new age solutions float your boat, you can read our guide to learn more about them. For a run through of the pros and cons of prepaid travel cards though, here’s all the info you’ll need.

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 alternative 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.

Starling Bank

Take a Starling Bank card abroad

    • Starling Bank is a great option for managing your holiday spend
    • Order now and a Starling Bank debit card can arrive within 3-5 business days
    • No ATM fees
    • No transaction fees

Promoted

Compare the best banking apps for going abroad

Updated December 14th, 2019
Name Product Foreign ATM withdrawals Foreign transactions fee Card cost Delivery speed
Revolut (Standard)
£200 free monthly
No fees
Free with finder.com, otherwise card delivery is £4.99
Up to 9 working days
App-based current account with loads of extra features. (e.g. Real time transactions, payment categorisation, save spare change, free international money transfers, buy cryptocurrency)
N26
N26
1.7% of amount drawn
No fees
Free
5-7 working days
App-based bank account that can be used on the go in any EU country. All about the ease of sending and saving money.
Starling Bank
Free
No fees
Free
Between 3-5 working days
Everything you get from a current account, but with new features for mobile living. (E.g. Goals for saving, spending catgorisation, interest on your balances)
WeSwap
Withdrawals of £200/$200/€200 or more – free
smaller withdrawals – a charge of £1.50 per withdrawal

No transaction fees (if you spend in one of the 18 wallet currencies)
Free
Between 3-5 working days in the UK, or within 10 days if you live outside the UK

Compare up to 4 providers

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28 Responses

  1. Default Gravatar
    NhadSeptember 3, 2019

    Hi,

    I’m traveling to Zambia in October which prepaid travel card would be the best to be able to withdraw local currency at an ATM, or to be able to pay for things at shops or restaurants etc. I’m guessing I would load the card in GBP as I can’t load local Zambia currency.

    Thanks in advance.

    • Avatarfinder Customer Care
      JeniSeptember 4, 2019Staff

      Hi Nhad,

      Thank you for getting in touch with Finder.

      You may apply for prepaid travel cards with either MasterCard or Visa logo since they are accepted in most places and ATMs in the said country. There are few places in Zambia accept Amex and Diners.

      I hope this helps.

      Thank you and have a wonderful day!

      Cheers,
      Jeni

  2. Default Gravatar
    KathieAugust 1, 2019

    Hi, going to Sweden soon for holiday.
    Are prepaid money travel cards accepted in most major department stores, restaurants and hotels in Sweden?
    Are these cards accepted in ATM machines in Sweden?

    • Avatarfinder Customer Care
      BellaAugust 3, 2019Staff

      Hi Kathie,

      Thanks for contacting Finder.

      As I checked, yes! Mastercard and Visa prepaid travel cards are widely accepted in Sweden.

      I hope this helps.

      Kind regards,
      Bella

  3. Default Gravatar
    CharlotteJuly 25, 2019

    I am going to Paris in November. Can i take out a card now, and then every month add more money to it to use, rather than have to load all the money in one go?

    • Avatarfinder Customer Care
      fayemanuelJuly 25, 2019Staff

      Hi Charlotte,

      Thank you for your inquiry.

      Yes. You may purchase the card now and put more cash on the card than you think you’ll need until your trip.

      I hope this information has helped.

      Kind Regards,

      Faye

  4. Default Gravatar
    LouiseMay 5, 2019

    Can I use a pre loaded card when travelling through lots of countries with different currency?

    • Avatarfinder Customer Care
      JhezMay 6, 2019Staff

      Hello Louise,

      Thank you for your comment.

      Yes, you can use the pre-loaded prepaid cards which offer the same convenience as a debit or credit card. These cards are specifically designed for overseas use. Please ensure you have enough currencies loaded on the card when traveling overseas.

      Regards,
      Jhezelyn

  5. Default Gravatar
    JanetApril 13, 2019

    Hi! if I use my card for a one-off holiday, not knowing when my next one will be will I be charged not using my card? If so, can I cancel card on my return with no penalties?

    • Avatarfinder Customer Care
      JoshuaApril 14, 2019Staff

      Hi Janet,

      Thanks for getting in touch with Finder. I hope all is well with you. 😃

      If you still have money on your travel card, it would be a good idea to withdraw and close the account if you’re not traveling anytime soon. Most travel cards come with inactivity fees. If you wish to cancel your card on your return, you can do so. Fees would depend on your provider. So, best is to directly get in touch with your provider or read the terms and condition of your car.

      I hope this helps. Should you have further questions, please don’t hesitate to reach us out again.

      Have a wonderful day!

      Cheers,
      Joshua

  6. Default Gravatar
    AnushaNovember 27, 2018

    My 11 year old is travelling to Portugal. What is the best way for him to carry cash? I do not want him to carry all of his money as cash.

    • Avatarfinder Customer Care
      JoshuaDecember 6, 2018Staff

      Hi Anusha,

      Thanks for getting in touch with finder. I hope all is well with you. :)

      Security is really a top priority and I understand why you don’t want him to carry cash. If your child needs to carry money, it would be a good idea to keep the money in a safe place. Whatever works for your child, the money should be secured. It would also be important to tell your child to stay low key and don’t get too flashy to avoid attracting attention from thieves.

      Having a travel card would also be a good alternative. In this case, you might want to check the information on this page to learn more about travel cards. You may also check our featured travel card above and see if it’s a card that will meet your needs.

      I hope this helps. Should you have further questions, please don’t hesitate to reach us out again.

      Have a wonderful day!

      Cheers,
      Joshua

  7. Default Gravatar
    DeanSeptember 24, 2018

    I am looking for a prepay card to load up and use in China and Hong Kong, I do not want to carry silly amounts of cash. The card needs to be used in ATM’s and like a debut card for purchases, all the sites are a bit confusing and China seems to be a difficult one to find

    • Avatarfinder Customer Care
      JhezSeptember 27, 2018Staff

      Hi Dean,

      Thank you for your comment.

      If you’re looking for a prepaid card to load up for your travel in China and Hong Kong, you might want to check this page. The page is actually a guide for travel money for these places. Please click the Go to Site button of your preferred card if you want to get one.

      The cards we have listed on the page can be used in ATM’s. You can also use these cards to make payments at major department stores, hotels and restaurants.

      Please make sure though to read the eligibility criteria, features and details of the card, as well as the relevant PDS/ T&Cs of the card before making a decision and consider whether the product is right for you.

      Should you wish to have real-time answers to your questions, try our chat box on the lower right corner of our page.

      Regards,
      Jhezelyn

  8. Default Gravatar
    SaraApril 21, 2018

    My daughter will be travelling to Peru in July and staying for a month and we are not sure of the best and cheapest prepaid money card for her. She wont be 18 till end of may. Can you give us a guide please

    • Avatarfinder Customer Care
      JeniApril 22, 2018Staff

      Hi Sara,

      Thank you for getting in touch with finder.

      For further info since your daughter is travelling to Peru, please check out this link. This link would be a great help specifically talking about travel money options.

      I hope this helps.

      Have a great day!

      Cheers,
      Jeni

  9. Default Gravatar
    JennyMarch 24, 2018

    Please advise if any providers have pre-paid cards for India. Many thanks.

    • Default Gravatar
      LiezlMarch 26, 2018

      Hi Jenny,

      Thanks for visiting finder! While at present these travel prepaid card providers do not support Indian Rupee, you may still use these cards in India wherever Mastercard or Visa is accepted. Please note that cross border, currency conversion and other fees may apply. Make sure to check the card’s terms and conditions and fees schedule to know what and how much fees your transaction in India will incur.

      Feel free to drop us a note again if you have other questions.

      Best regards,
      Liezl

  10. Default Gravatar
    KeithMarch 21, 2018

    We’re traveling to China shortly. What are the best options for China as regards PrePayment cards?

    • Avatarfinder Customer Care
      MayMarch 22, 2018Staff

      Hi Keith,

      Thanks for your inquiry!

      The possible prepaid cards you can compare and use in China are listed on this page. There are tabs in the table on that guide arranged according to the type of card: “click & collect”, “prepaid cards” and “cash via post”. If you are interested in applying for your chosen card, just click the green “Go to site” button to be redirected to the main page of the card and apply from there.

      Hope this helps.

      Cheers,
      May

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