Everything You Need to Know About Currency Cards

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Daniel Webber
Daniel Webber
Founder & CEO
Daniel is Founder and CEO of FXcompared and FXC Intelligence and has 18 years of experience in the international finance world focusing on cross-border payments, technology and the property sectors.… Read more

A prepaid currency card is a safe and convenient way to carry your vacation money, but it is important to know all the pros and cons of using a currency card.

What is a currency card?

A currency card is a pre-paid travel card that allows you to make payments when you are abroad, in a similar way to a debit or credit card. You can load the card with the currency of your choice, at the current exchange rate. You may also hear a currency card referred to as a travel money card, a worldwide currency card, a prepaid forex card, a travel FX card, or a worldwide currency card.

How do currency cards work?

Before you travel you load up your card with the currency you will be spending. You are effectively buying that currency, but instead of walking away with it in cash, you will walk away with a card that has the currency already on it, ready to spend. Usually a pre-paid travel card will be underwritten by Visa or MasterCard, and can be used anywhere these cards are accepted.

Some cards can only be loaded with one currency, but some can be loaded with several different ones, if you are traveling to more than one country. Always do your research and compare travel money transfer options to assess which is best for you.

Prepaid travel card fees and charges

Each card charges different fees and exchange rates, and comes with slightly different conditions, so be sure to check the small print carefully. You will buy the currency at the exchange rate on the day you top the card up. Always check to see if you are getting a good exchange rate.

Are currency cards safe?

A prepaid currency card is generally a safe option. It means you don’t have to carry large amounts of cash on you, and you will get a PIN for your card to keep it secure. You can quickly block a lost or stolen card. This means that if you lose a prepaid travel card the risk of someone else using it is no greater than with any PIN protected credit or debit card. However, in some cases an online money transfer service can be a safer option.

Pros of currency cards

  • Usually offer a good exchange rate
  • No transaction fees on most cards
  • Help you stick to a budget
  • Relatively safe and secure
  • Convenient

Cons of currency cards

  • Do not offer the same purchase protection as credit cards
  • May have ‘hidden’ fees and charges
  • Cannot be used in some circumstance (eg to pay a deposit)
  • Usually charge a fee to withdraw cash or spend in a different currency

A prepaid travel card can be a great idea for vacation spending, but it is generally safer to use an international money transfer if you need to send large amounts of money abroad. This may be the case if you are working or studying abroad, buying a property, or conducting business abroad.

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FXcompared.com is an fx money comparison site for international money transfer and to compare rates from currency brokers for sending money abroad. The website and the information provided is for informational purposes only and does not constitute an offer, solicitation or advice on any financial service or transaction. None of the information presented is intended to form the basis for any investment decision, and no specific recommendations are intended.  FXC Group Ltd and FX Compared Ltd does not provide any guarantees of any data from third parties listed on this website. FX compared Ltd expressly disclaims any and all responsibility for any direct or consequential loss or damage of any kind whatsoever arising directly or indirectly from (i) any error, omission or inaccuracy in any such information or (ii) any action resulting therefrom.