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A Guide to Travel Money Cards

Often deemed the cheapest way to spend money abroad, travel money cards are deemed a failsafe option for many travellers. Given the rapid growth of the financial services sector, we want to find out if travel money cards are still as cutting edge as they once were, by comparing them to the new alternatives. Our job is to identify the best international money transfer services and payment providers in the industry: will travel money cards make the cut?

Updated: 25/01/2022
Read time: 4 minutes
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What are travel money cards? 

Travel money cards are a popular payment method for individuals headed abroad. Customers will load funds onto the card, using the money as foreign currency when overseas, much like a debit card is used at home. Also known as travel money prepaid cards or currency cards, they facilitate free foreign transactions and overseas ATM withdrawals.

We recommend finding a travel money card which lets you lock-in a favourable exchange rate and supports multiple currencies on one card, to make sure you are securing a flexible and cost-effective deal.

How do you use a travel money card?

Using a travel money card should be straightforward and stress-free. Simply load funds onto the card before you leave, and once abroad, you will be able to reload funds and change currencies using the website or associated money transfer app. The card can be used to make withdrawals, in-store purchases and book travel arrangements.

Beware of potential fees

We want to point out the importance of doing your research and reading the small print. Some travel money card providers will charge fees for reloading your card when abroad; the same goes for ATM withdrawals. As always, we recommend comparing all your options before committing to a product or service.

Where can I get a travel money card?

Travel money cards are available from different retailers and can be purchased and preloaded online, over the phone or in-store, depending on the brand. In the UK, popular brands include Travelex and the Post Office. 

Where can I use a travel money card?

Again, this depends on the brand and where you get your money travel card from. Available currencies vary from card to card but commonly used currencies include US Dollars, UK Pound sterling, Euros, Japanese Yen and New Zealand Dollars. Make sure you check with the provider before ordering a travel money card. 

How secure are travel money cards?

Generally, travel money cards are considered a lot safer than handling multiple currencies in cash, or travellers cheques, as your provider will be able to cancel it if need be.Furthermore, some of the best travel money cards employ an equivalent level of security to traditional debit cards, including a PIN code, touch ID and face recognition. 

Many consider it safer to use a travel money card abroad than a debit card, as they are not associated with your bank account and therefore cannot be linked if lost or stolen.

Travel money cards vs. Credit cards: What is the difference? 

One of the biggest advantages of using a travel money card is that your chosen currency is preloaded before you arrive in the foreign country and you won’t be charged conversion fees. This means you are able to benefit from the most favourable exchange rates, locking it in ahead of time and using the funds at a later date. 

Most people who use their credit card abroad do it because it is more convenient. The cost of this convenience, however, can sometimes amount to 3 – 5% per use, depending on the transaction and financial institution. Making a foreign ATM withdrawal with your credit card can incur flat-fees of $5 and up, each time. 

This being said, there are some excellent traveller credit cards on the market, so we would recommend users compare exchange rates and transfer fees offered by each provider before making a decision on which card is more beneficial.

If you’re planning on using your credit card, we suggest you take a look at our credit card wire transfer guide.

What are the alternatives to travel money cards?

Multi-currency accounts

International money transfer companies are often tailoring their products and services to meet the needs of their customers.  Wise, offers a multi-currency account designed with “international people” in mind. This savvy travel credit card is aimed at frequent flyers who want to spend in various currencies in over 200 countries. Wise is a reliable company to trust with your overseas spending habits.

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Challenger banks

More and more alternative service providers are popping up around the world, many of them offering reputable banking features for the modern traveller. In a bid to distinguish themselves from traditional banks, challenger banks are scrapping fees on foreign exchange and international spending. Monzo customers, for example, can benefit from free international ATM withdrawals as well as fee-free spending overseas.

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Summary

We hope this guide to travel money cards has enlightened you and helped you make a decision about whether this is a suitable payment method for your next trip overseas. We appreciate the value of your hard-earned cash and want all our customers to benefit from the best possible rates when dealing with international payments. Use our comparison tool today to make sure you are offered the most desirable exchange rate for your currency. 

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April Summers

April is a trained journalist and the Content Editor for MoneyTransfers.com. She has 10 years experience writing about a diverse range of subjects, from financial services to arts and entertainment. When she’s not writing about global remittances she can be found daydreaming about her next holiday abroad.

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