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Your Fool-Proof Guide to Prepaid Travel Cards

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Everyone who travels knows it’s the logistics that get in the way and cause headaches during holidays. Currency is always one of the things to figure out. No one wants to be carrying around heaps of cash that could be stolen. That’s why using prepaid travel cards is a good idea for vacationing. Not only are they convenient and safe, they can help you avoid outrageous conversion fees.

Travel cards, also known as currency cards, are a popular option with travelers for a reason. They are typically safer than carrying around a lot of a foreign currency and are easier to use than traveler’s cheques. Loading a currency on a prepaid travel card can enable you to take out cash at ATMs and use it at shops, bars, and restaurants that accept it.

Advantages of Travel Cards For a while now, prepaid cards have grown in popularity because of their unique and distinct advantages over other forms of travel money. They are an alternative to carrying foreign cash, using a debit card at ATMs, or getting outdated traveler’s cheques.

Travel cards allow you to spend what you want to, but with no pressure to spend it all. You can also load the amount of money you want to spend in order to help budget the trip. They are also secured with a PIN and don’t require credit checks. But perhaps the most enticing advantage of prepaid travel cards, according to the site MoneyPug used to find the best UK prepaid cards, is that you can access more reasonable currency exchange rates.

Disadvantages of Travel Cards
When you go to book your next holiday, you will need to work out how to get the foreign cash whether it is at a bank, ATM, credit union, or another option. Still you should know that while travel money exchange services purport offering a low fee for commission currency exchanges, the fees are often hidden in a poor exchange rate you won’t know about until you are on the ground. Be aware of this, recent reports have shown that British travelers were paying as much as £200 in hidden charges.

It is also important to remember that you will always have ATM withdrawal fees. In addition to these basic charges, prepaid travel card companies may charge a fee for a dormancy period as well as card renewal and replacement. Still though there are some disadvantages, as more prepaid travel cards come onto the market, they become more competitive and increasingly convenient.

Understanding Exchange Rates
To effectively use a prepaid travel card, it is crucial to understand foreign currency exchange rates. This will help you avoid paying more than you need to. Use an online currency converter or application to stay on top of it at all times. Foreign exchange services often fail to provide this information to customers.

Sometimes they will even add a mark-up that becomes profit. The bottom line is, the more you know about the currency exchange rate the more you will be able to avoid losing money, allowing you to spend more of it on fun.

Obtaining a Prepaid Travel Card
After you have carefully examined the fees and understand conversion rates, actually getting the card is the next step. First you will need to submit an application. Then you will be able to load the minimum balance to get it started. This process varies from company to company, but you’ll likely need a proof of identification of a passport or driver’s license. Some providers even charge an application fee, but others don’t.

Using the Prepaid Card
Once you have loaded your card with foreign currency, you will be able to withdraw at ATMs and use it wherever cards are taken. You should choose a travel money card that is regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) in order to have the peace of mind that your money is in a secured bank account tied to the card. That means, whatever happens, the money will be kept secure by the rules of our bank system.

Still there are long-term risks with the administration of the card company, that’s why you should take your money out when you are finished with your holiday. If you know what you are getting into and understand the steps making travel cards an efficient way to spend money on holiday, you will be delighted by the ease and convenience.

Ryan Beitler is a journalist, writer, and travel blogger. He has been published in Paste Magazine, OC Weekly, New Noise Magazine, The Slovenia Times, and more.

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