We value our editorial independence, basing our comparison results, content and reviews on objective analysis without bias. But we may receive compensation when you click links on our site. Learn more about how we make money from our partners.
What happens when your prepaid card doesn’t support the local currency
Know your options when you need to spend in an unavailable currency.
When looking at prepaid travel money cards, you’ll notice that the currencies that can be loaded on to the card may be limited. If you want to use a prepaid travel money card and the currency of your destination isn’t supported, no worries, here are some ways you can get around that.
What if my prepaid card doesn’t support the local currency?
Most prepaid travel cards, like the Travelex Money Card, support about six currencies that have their own currency wallet. When you load funds onto your card, you’ll have to choose which currency you’d like to top up and then you can use those funds in that country without having to pay a currency conversion fee.
If you don’t have the funds loaded in that particular currency wallet, or if your card doesn’t support that local currency, you will be charged a currency conversion fee whenever you use your travel card in that country.
Your card provider will draws funds from your account according to the default currency order at their existing exchange rate and charges you a fee on top of that for converting currencies.
What are currency conversion fees?
One of the perks of using a prepaid travel card is the ability to avoid high currency conversion fees that credit and debit cards often charge. But, when you make purchases in a currency that isn’t loaded or supported by your travel card, you may be charged a currency conversion fee of about 3%.
Do you know about dynamic currency conversion?
Dynamic currency conversion is a service provided by international retailers that allows you to make purchases using your home currency. The dynamic currency conversion rate consists of the foreign exchange rate charged by the credit card company, as well as a fee to the merchant. You may also get charged a foreign transaction fee for the purchase. It’s typically best to decline this service.
What is the default currency order?
Currency order matters when you withdraw or spend money in a currency that isn’t preloaded or supported by your card. When this happens, your purchase amount is taken from the available currency highest on the default currency order list. The default order is usually determined by your card provider.
For instance, a typical currency could be:
- United States dollars (USD)
- Great British pounds (GBP)
- Euros (EUR)
- Canadian dollars (CAD)
- Australian dollars (AUD)
- Japanese yen (JPY)
- Mexican pesos (MXY)
If you have preloaded USD, EUR and AUD on your card, and you are spending Thai baht in Bangkok, the card will convert whatever USD you have into baht for your purchase.
If you have insufficient USD preloaded on your card, it will convert the remaining USD you have into baht, and then withdraw the difference from your EUR wallet. A currency conversion fee will generally apply in these instances.
What are your other options?
It is important to know and understand the fees of your card. Develop a strategy using some of these tips:
- Do your research beforehand.
Know your options and choose the prepaid travel money card that best suits your needs. If you have no luck with that, look at travel friendly credit cards.
- No currency conversion debit card.
You may find that it makes more sense to take your debit card to a country where local currency isn’t supported by your card. Some debit cards are designed for overseas use and don’t charge currency conversion and international ATM fees.
- Don’t let your currency wallet run out of funds.
To avoid unnecessary fees and unfavorable exchange rates, make sure your specific currency wallet doesn’t run out of local currency. Keep in mind that some reload options can take up to three business days to appear in your account, so you give yourself time when loading the card.
Finally, finding your best travel money option is a process of thorough research that will match your personal needs and preferences. Start comparing today and spend with peace of mind tomorrow.
Why we like: Travelex Money Card
Load GBP, EUR, CAD, AUD, JPY or MXN onto this prepaid travel money card and use it at millions of locations worldwide.
- Not linked to your bank account for safety.
- Convert currency with a 5.50% Foreign Exchange Fee
- Contactless payments
- Reload, withdraw, or replace your card for free.
Ask an Expert