What is a travel money card?

A travel money card is what? What is one’s use? What makes them helpful, then?

A common, practical, and safe method to purchase foreign cash and transport it abroad is via travel money cards. Travel money cards are essentially debit cards with specialized designs that you pre-load with foreign currencies.

Pre-loading the card with the currency of your choosing has the benefit of allowing you to convert your money into foreign currency at the most advantageous time for the exchange rate. You won’t continually incur currency translation costs if you spend in the local currency.

A travel money card offers several benefits and drawbacks over other forms of travel money, depending on whether the traveler is visiting one or multiple countries. Because you may preload a card with one currency or multiple, depending on your trip intentions, using a travel money card can be simpler (and more secure) than carrying cash or traveler’s checks. Different cards provide various currencies, although the majority of items include, among others, US dollars, UK pounds, Euros, and New Zealand dollars.

Once you’re overseas, you may use your smartphone or the internet to refill your card or switch between currencies. Your card may be used to make cash withdrawals from ATMs, purchase souvenirs, pay for meals at restaurants, and make online hotel reservations.

Australians travel often; in any given month, more than 800,000 depart for brief trips abroad (ABS, August 2016 data). That is a huge growth over the last 20 years compared to the 350,000 similar journeys made per month in 2006.

Traveler’s checks are all but useless because to technology, which has revolutionized the way we travel and how we pay for it. Cheques have virtually been superseded by traveler’s checks as the most often used foreign currency instrument.

An area of financial services that is seeing tremendous transformation is the travel card. They are no longer only provided by banking institutions; in recent years, airlines Qantas and Virgin, as well as Australia Post, have entered the market.

What are traveler’s checks?

What to check for in a traveler’s checks card

In our opinion, the perfect credit card has two key characteristics: it enables you to lock in a favorable exchange rate before you go and allows you to load various foreign currencies onto a single card. When evaluating travel money cards on your behalf, we give the conversion rate a lot of consideration.

We look at numerous fees that might build up and chew a hole in your trip budget as another important factor to take into account when choosing a travel money card. For instance, how much does reloading and loading the card cost, and how much does an international transaction cost? This is the fee incurred when a card automatically loads money from a foreign currency because there are insufficient funds in the local currency.

We also consider how easy and inexpensive it will be to exchange any foreign currency when you get home.

Travel money cards must be filled with your own money; they cannot be used as a cover for a travel credit card.

How exactly do prepaid travel cards operate?

Prepaid travel cards function similarly to general-purpose prepaid cards, with the exception that they often provide unique features and benefits tailored for travel, which might vary depending on the issuing bank.

Generally speaking, in order to use a prepaid travel card, you must first buy the card and then load it with the money you want to use for your trip, up to the card’s maximum spending limit. (For instance, a generic prepaid card called the PayPal Prepaid Mastercard® enables a maximum amount of $15,000).

When you are there, you may use your prepaid card to make purchases right away (much like you would with a debit card). You may also use it at an ATM to withdraw money in the local currency of your destination.

To check the balance, evaluate your transactions, and monitor any account charges, you may log in to a mobile app or your online account, depending on the card issuer.

What advantages can prepaid travel cards offer?

The next time you go abroad, why not simply bring cash, your credit cards, and your debit card? Why do you want to use a prepaid credit card as well?

Thieves only get access to the loaded cash if you lose your card.
Only the money stored onto your prepaid card will be accessible to a criminal who steals it while you are away (unlike debit cards, which can provide thieves access to your bank account, or credit cards, which a thief can charge up to a certain limit).

Prepaid cards may also come with a zero liability insurance from the network that issues them, but typically they don’t provide as many safeguards as debit and credit cards do (think chargebacks and fraud alerts).

more practical compared to traveler’s checks

Additionally, prepaid travel cards are more practical than, example, traveler’s checks (which, yes, still exist). It may be difficult to get traveler’s checks in advance, and you might be shocked at how many businesses throughout the world no longer take them. Prepaid cards so often provide a superior alternative to these paper checks.

What are prepaid travel card disadvantages?

Prepaid travel cards have advantages and disadvantages, much like any financial goods. The following are some downsides of utilizing one:

among others, foreign transaction fees

Prepaid card fees should be avoided by travelers since they may quickly mount up during an overseas journey. There are overseas transaction fees on a lot of prepaid cards. Today, finding credit cards without international transaction fees is much simpler than finding prepaid cards without them.

Additionally, fees for card purchases, ATM withdrawals, increased overseas ATM withdrawal fees, inactivity, and receiving a check for any unused amount may be added to the cost of prepaid travel cards.

No assistance for your credit rating

Your three-digit credit score will increase if you use a typical credit card to pay for restaurant meals, gifts, and tickets and make on-time payments. This does not occur when you make transactions using prepaid travel cards since the national credit bureaus are not notified of your prepaid card activity.

You can run out of money if you don’t stay on top of things.

There’s a danger that a prepaid card might leave you stranded when you try to make a transaction if you’re accustomed to quickly swiping a credit card. Just be sure to keep track of how much money you have placed onto your card and how much you have spent.

Tips for prepaid travel cards

There are various possible difficulties with prepaid travel cards. Here are some recommendations for preventing the most typical drawbacks of these cards:

Check the fees for your current (or prospective) card: It’s vital to read the tiny print before swiping since prepaid cards may impose costs that current debit and credit card consumers aren’t used to. For instance, the Netspend® Visa® Prepaid Card levies a $5.95 monthly inactivity fee after 90 days of inactivity.

Confirm that the card will function at your destination. Make sure your prepaid card is accepted where you’re going by confirming with your issuer. Due to limitations imposed by U.S. trade sanctions, even a card intended for worldwide travel could not function in some regions.
Establish boundaries: Prepaid travel cards sometimes include limitations that, if you don’t know about them in advance, might ruin your vacation. As an example, the daily reload cap on certain cards might be as low as $500 (or as high as $7,500, in the case of the Netspend Visa card). Once more: Before leaving, carefully read the small print on your card.

Keep holds to a minimum: Prepaid travel cards function somewhat similarly to debit cards. Avoid booking a hotel stay or a rental vehicle using a prepaid travel card since this may result in a hold on your funds that might last a week or more and cost you hundreds of dollars. Instead, reserve these things with a credit card, then pay the remaining balance with your prepaid card.

Instead, ought to you utilize a travel credit card?

You may be better off applying for a travel credit card or utilizing one you already have as your main form of payment when traveling if the disadvantages of a prepaid travel card outweigh the advantages.

Almost all travel credit cards offer 0% fraud liability, which might provide you peace of mind if your card is lost or stolen. Additionally, they let you to earn points for your purchases, and a lot of them include purchase protection, travel insurance, and no FX costs. Some even include benefits like access to airport lounges with free food and drink. Additionally, a credit card may provide you greater purchasing power than a prepaid card, depending on your credit limit.

However, they may also have drawbacks. Not all nations allow all types of travel credit cards. For instance, American Express and Discover are less common abroad whereas Visa and Mastercard are commonly accepted. Additionally, certain businesses may demand chip-and-pin cards or not take payment cards at all depending on where you are.

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