What is a prepaid currency card? In simple terms, it is a credit card that you load with a certain prepaid currency to use at a later date in a different country. So, are there others like this? Some prepaid cards are strictly used for one particular currency, usually the American dollar or the Euro, while others may be loaded with many different currencies from a specified list. But, which one is the best one?
One of the best uses for a prepaid currency card is to avoid the need to carry traveler's checks. When you go abroad, especially to a foreign country, carrying traveler's checks is not only inconvenient, it can also be expensive. It's are very similar to ATM's, except instead of using your own funds, you use the bank's money. Different banks give you different interest rates on your checks, and if you use your card abroad, the money you withdraw will have to be converted into the local currency first. This can take several hours. You are much better off if you can reload your card with traveler's checks and then use your own funds when you get to your destination.
Another good reason for using a prepaid currency card when traveling is that it can help you avoid being scammed. Whether you are at an ATM or at a local restaurant, a crook could easily get your information if you are not careful. The crooks know that ATMs usually offer great rates for travelers, so they target travelers who have cash on them. If you use a traveler's check at the local ATM, you are eliminating the need for an exchange. Travelers' checks are good at any local ATM, and you will eliminate the exchange, thus making it much easier to avoid being scammed.
One of the disadvantages of prepaid currency cards is that you need to have some kind of identification. You can't use them to withdraw cash from ATMs, which is why you need to have one. In addition, there are fees associated with ATMs as well. Some ATM's charge a fee for every transaction you make. This can be a huge fee when you are already being charged by the local ATM for accessing their machines. Many travelers complain about the fees, but if you consider the convenience of having no foreign currency charges at all, these fees won't even be a consideration.
Another disadvantage of prepaid currency cards is that they only work in one country. Since you are still using your own funds, you might be restricted in how you spend them in your home country. It would be impossible to go to Spain and buy a nice bottle of wine without breaking the bank. In addition, there are several different currencies involved, so you might end up having to convert the money into at least a few of them.
Now that you know these two important points about prepaid travel cards, you should be able to find the best travel money card for your needs. The first thing you should do is take out a piece of paper and jot down your budget. Don't worry about including the ATM usage fees – they apply separate from the cost of using the card abroad.
Next, you should look at how much money you need to set aside for your trip abroad. If you have a good chunk of cash set aside, then it shouldn't be hard to get one of these travel cash cards. On the other hand, if you only have a couple of hundred dollars, you might want to look at getting a traditional bank debit card or an ATM card so that you can use abroad in a more affordable manner.
The bottom line is that these cards are useful for all kinds of travelers. You can use them overseas in any foreign currency and you won't have to worry about extra fees or being charged outrageous interest rates. However, you should be sure to compare cards before you choose one. If you don't, you might end up with cards that will cost you more than you had planned.
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