Prepaid Travel Cards For Foreign Breaks

Prepaid travel cards are plastic cards, a bit like a credit card or debit card that can be used to make purchases whilst in a foreign country.

Carrying large amounts of cash can be very risky and a wallet full of cash is likely to attract the wrong sort of attention that may lead to some problems. If you find yourself in the wrong place at the wrong time you could find yourself the victim of pickpockets or muggers. The other problem with carrying large amounts of cash is that it is easily lost or misplaced and once it’s gone it’s gone. Prepaid travel cards eliminate this problem and that single currency card in your wallet is like having thousands of pounds in your wallet.

There are many different types of prepaid travel cards available so the question is how do you go about choosing the best one for you? At the end of the day all prepaid travel cards work in the same way, carry similar exchange rates (although there will be small differences), have the same advantages and disadvantages and are accepted in the same places, so there is very little to differentiate between them. Some prepaid currency card providers offer a reward system for choosing their prepaid travel cards, so when you are choosing a prepaid currency card bear this in mind so you can get a reward that is best for you. 

How do prepaid travel cards work?

Once you have applied for a prepaid currency card and had one issued you will be given a unique Personal Identification Number (“PIN”). Before you can use the prepaid currency card you will need to activate the card by calling the provider and confirming the PIN to the customer adviser. As soon as the card is activated it can be loaded up with some cash.

Prepaid travel cards are loaded by transferring cash from your bank account to the card via an online transaction or you can take your card to the post office and get some cash loaded on to it that way. Before choosing a prepaid currency card you need to check out the different ways to load the card to make sure you are comfortable with them.

Once you have some cash loaded on to the prepaid travel card you are free to use it to make purchases or to withdraw cash from ATMs.

Choosing and applying for prepaid travel cards

When you are looking for prepaid travel cards you can spend hours searching the internet and visiting the website of each prepaid currency card provider and tabulate the features of each or you could visit one of the many prepaid travel cards comparison sites where the work is already done for you. The comparison sites contain up to date deals and only include current offers which stops you wasting even more time applying for deals and offers that are no longer available.

Applying for prepaid travel cards does not involve a credit check therefore it is very unlikely your application will be rejected, even if you have no credit rating. Even an un-discharged bankrupt will be able to get a prepaid currency card.

Advantages of prepaid travel cards

Prepaid travel cards look like any other credit card or debit card and work in the same way in that you can use them to make purchases. However, the big difference between prepaid travel cards and debit/credit cards is that you can only spend the amount of money that is loaded on to your card. A big advantage of this is that it stops you going over the top and overspending when you are on vacation, and since you can only spend what you can afford you cannot get in to debt.

Prepaid travel cards are not linked to your bank account in any way so your spending habits with the card will not affect your bank balance. If you do find yourself the victim of robbery when on vacation the thief can only spend as much as is loaded on to the prepaid currency card and no more. The thief cannot gain access to your bank account and clear it out. Similarly, if you lose your prepaid currency card your loss will be capped to the amount that is loaded on to your card.  

Prepaid travel cards will give you a more favourable exchange rate than any airport, exchange bureau or foreign bank would, therefore you get more for your money. When using a prepaid currency card you will also avoid the bank charges associated with changing your money abroad, which can vary significantly. For example, in Turkey there is a standard 20YTL charge per cheque when cashing traveller’s cheques. This is a standard fee that applies regardless of the amount of the traveller’s cheque. If you are exchanging a £20 traveller’s cheque this 20YTL charge is over 40%, which is very expensive.

When using a prepaid currency card you don’t have to walk around with your passport in order to get cash, like you have to with when cashing traveller’s cheques. Your passport is a very important document and it is better to lock it up in the hotel safe than carry it around with you all day, and you can actually do this when using prepaid currency cards.

Disadvantages of prepaid travel cards

Prepaid travel cards have no credit facilities attached to them. This is good if you want to make sure you don’t run up debts whilst on vacation, but this can also be a problem. If you run out of money when on vacation or you want to make a large and unexpected purchase or you have to buy things you didn’t budget for and expect to buy when on vacation you could run in to some problems. The ability to spend money you don’t actually have is sometimes very useful and can get you out of some sticky situations.

The final word on prepaid travel cards

The popularity of prepaid travel cards has steadily increased over the last few years and given the way prepaid travel cards work, and their advantages it is easy to see why.  Arguably, prepaid travel cards are the best way to keep your money safe whilst you are on vacation or travelling the world. Carrying cash is risky and having to keep getting it exchanged in to different currencies can be a real pain, especially if you struggle to get to a bank or travel exchange bureau. With the many advantages associate with prepaid travel cards you would be missing a trick if you didn’t use one for your next foreign vacation.