Our Top Pay As You Go Currency Cards
Published: 22 June 2011 By Julian Stone 2 Comments
As growing numbers of people switch to the safety and security of prepaid currency cards when they travel, more cards are available than ever before. But how do you know which currency card is right for you?
From holidaymakers to businesspeople, travellers are becoming more reluctant to carry large amounts of cash or travellers cheques with them when they go abroad.
Instead they are opting for prepaid currency cards – and for good reasons.
Prepaid currency cards offer the security of Chip and PIN payment and cash withdrawal, meaning you no longer need to take large amounts of currency with you when you travel.
And if your card is lost or stolen, you can cancel it online or over the phone – and most companies will not only replace your card but also restore your balance too.
So if you travel abroad, getting your hands on a currency card is a no-brainer. The only problem is finding the providers that offer you the best deals.
To help you choose, we’ve listed our top four prepaid currency card providers – complete with a rundown of what makes them stand out.
CaxtonFX currency cards
The best reason to choose a CaxtonFX currency card is that you won’t pay any fees for either purchases or cashpoint withdrawals while you’re overseas.
As most other currency card providers will charge you a fixed fee for each withdrawal, the savings with a CaxtonFX card can quickly accumulate.
CaxtonFX also charges 0% commission on foreign currency, so when you load your card you get a better rate than you would usually receive on the high street.
Other great benefits include a dedicated customer helpline, online management and the options to check your balance and top up your card over the phone, by text and online.
With CaxtonFX, you can choose between three prepaid currency cards – the Euro Card, Dollar Card or Global Traveller Card.
With the Euro and Dollar cards, the money loaded onto the cards is converted into Euros or Dollars straight away. This helps you save because you only convert the currency once as a single lump sum – and not at the point of transaction.
With the Global Traveller Card, your currency is stored in Sterling. So although you can use it anywhere, you’ll be converting currency (and paying a small fee) every time you pay for something.
This can also add up, but if you’re heading to Europe or the US, a CaxtonFX card is definitely worth a look.
Escape currency cards
When you use the Escape Travel Money Prepaid Mastercard from EZ Pay, you can get up to 20% cashback on any online purchase you make with it.
And when you’re booking your holiday, this can quickly add up. Simply register for the offer and begin collecting cashback with each purchase. When your cashback balance reaches £10 or more, it’s automatically transferred to your card – topping up your existing balance.
The Escape Travel Money Card also comes complete with:
- No cashpoint withdrawal fees, plus fee-free purchases
- The chance to fix your exchange rate when you buy the card
- A companion card – allowing you to transfer money simply and quickly between the two
- A comparatively high daily withdrawal limit of £500.
The Escape card gives you a great way to transfer money simply and easily between family members or friends while abroad, and also to earn rewards for shopping online – which can certainly add up.
It will cost you £9.99 upfront – but you can easily recoup that sum in future savings on withdrawal fees.
FairFX currency cards
A FairFX Prepaid Mastercard would normally cost you £9.95 – but click on the link in this sentence and it’s free for Moneyhighstreet readers.
FairFX offers you a number of great benefits, including the lowest exchange rate on currency transactions offered by our top four currency cards. The provider doesn’t add a markup to the interbank exchange rate, so you get business exchange rates rather than consumer exchange rates – saving you money.
As with CaxtonFX, you can apply for a Dollar, Euro or Anywhere card.
You will still have to pay for cashpoint withdrawals though – £1.50 in the UK, or €1.50 or $2 in Europe and the US respectively. In all other countries, the charge is set at £1.
But with no management or transaction fees, FairFX claims you can save up to 10% on currency and 5% on charges when using one of their currency cards instead of a standard UK credit or debit card.
Virgin currency cards
The Virgin Prepaid Travel Money Card is Virgin Money’s answer for the traveller who is wary of carrying cash.
There’s no application fee, nor any charges for transactions in the pre-loaded currency – but there’s no ‘worldwide’ option. This means you’re restricted to a choice of Dollars or Euros.
On the plus side, a Virgin prepaid currency card does give you access to a range of benefits and discounts usually reserved for Virgin Money users.
These include 7.5% off all Virgin holidays, 10% off Virgin wines and 30% off Virgin books – all great discounts for holidaymakers.
However, the card is subject to cashpoint withdrawal fees. $2 in the US and €1.50 in Europe.
Unlike the other cards on our list, the Virgin currency card uses Visa instead of Mastercard. Both are accepted at all major destinations, but if you have a preference for Visa, we recommend Virgin.
Prepaid currency cards are a great way to handle money when you’re abroad, but they’re not the only thing you need to worry about when you travel.
Check out our feature on 3 Things to Tick Off Before You Go On Holiday to find more of the best deals for when you travel.