Prepaid travel card fees for unavailable currencies | finder.com
Prepaid card doesn’t support the local currency

What happens when your prepaid card doesn’t support the local currency

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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:

  1. United States dollars (USD)
  2. Great British pounds (GBP)
  3. Euros (EUR)
  4. Canadian dollars (CAD)
  5. Australian dollars (AUD)
  6. Japanese yen (JPY)
  7. 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.

Updated August 16th, 2018
Name Product Currency Conversion Fee Annual Fee APR (Annual Percentage Rate) for Purchases
None
$195
16.74% variable
Enjoy unique excursions, privileged access to exclusive events and insider opportunities.
None
$0
14.74%, 18.74% or 24.74% variable
Earn unlimited 1.5% cash rewards on purchases. See Rates and Fees
None
$495
16.74% variable
Mastercard Black Card members receive an annual $100 air travel credit toward flight-related purchases including airline tickets, baggage fees, upgrades and more.
None
$995
16.74% variable
Earn points every time you spend. Luxury Card enhances your purchasing power by providing you with one (1) point for every one dollar ($1) you spend. Every purchase gets you closer to the rewards you want.
None
$0 annual fee for the first year ( thereafter)
16.74%, 22.49% or 25.49% variable
Get 4 points back on dining, 3 on travel, 2 on Uber rides and online shopping and 1 on other purchases, and redeem points for Uber credits, gift cards or cash back.
None
$0
16.74% to 24.74% variable
20,000 online bonus points offer. Ditch the restrictions of typical airline rewards cards. Any airline, any hotel, anytime. No blackout dates.
None
$0 annual fee for the first year ($95 thereafter)
14.74%, 21.24% or 24.74% variable
Earn 50,000 bonus miles after spending $3,000 on purchases within the first 3 months from account opening.
None
$0 annual fee for the first year ($95 thereafter)
17.74% to 24.74% variable
Earn 50,000 points when you spend $4,000 on purchases within the first 3 months of your account opening, and an additional 30,000 points when you spend a total of $30,000 on purchases within the first year of your account opening.
None
$95
17.74% to 24.74% variable
Earn unlimited 2 points for every $1 spent on travel and dining purchases and 1.5 points for every $1 spent on all other purchases.
None
$450
17.74% to 24.74% variable
Earn 50,000 BONUS POINTS after spending $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening* — that's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
None
$550
None (Charge Card)
Get 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel and 5X points on eligible hotels booked on amextravel.com.
None
$450
17.74% to 24.74% variable
Enjoy United Club membership, Premier Access® travel services, free checked bags, plus earn miles on every purchase.
None
$75
16.74% to 24.74% variable
Buy one ticket, get one for just the taxes and fees ($0 fare plus taxes and fees from just $22) after you make $1,000 or more in purchases within the first 90 days of your account opening. There are no blackout dates.
None
$195
17.49% to 26.49% variable
Earn 70,000 Bonus Miles and 10,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles(MQMs) after spending $3,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months.

Compare up to 4 providers

Promoted
Travelex Money Card

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.
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    Kyle Morgan

    Kyle Morgan is a writer and editor for finder.com who has worked for the USA Today network and Relix magazine, among other publications. He can be found writing about everything from the latest car loan stats to tips on saving money when traveling overseas. He lives in Asbury Park, where he loves exploring new places and sipping on hoppy beer. Oh, and he doesn't discriminate against buffalo wings — grilled or fried are just fine.

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