Compare Currency Cards

Published on 2 July 2016 by Raffick Marday

The main questions asked about Currency Cards?

  1. Hotels, car hire, bicycle hire and deposits of all kinds

Don't place a security deposit using your prepaid card - it could mean the relevant amount is blocked on your card. Use your travel card to check out of your hotel or car hire deal, not to check in!

When a card is used for a deposit, the relevant amount is then blocked on your card. Your travel card holds a prepaid balance and the block will prevent you from using the funds on your card until they are unblocked. It can take up to 30 days for the block to be removed. Use any other card for the security deposit and your travel card when the actual payment is required.

  1. Dynamic Currency Conversion (DCC) - don't pay in sterling!

Always pay in the local currency. When using your travel card to pay for goods, you may get the choice of paying in either euros /dollars or in sterling - always choose the local currency.

Why? Because retailers and ATMs may give you the choice and you might think that paying in sterling saves you money. It doesn't. If you pay in sterling the retailer converts your payment at their exchange rate and you lose out. This is called Dynamic Currency Conversion (DCC) and could catch you out. Remember to check the screen before authorising transactions. If the value is shown in pounds - ask that it is changed!

  1. Overseas ATM fees and charges

Some travel card providers do not charge a fee for overseas ATM withdrawals. Many UK debit, credit card and prepaid card issuers charge fees for overseas ATM withdrawals. When you use an ATM overseas, the ATM owner may charge you a fee. This is not travel card provider charging you, it's the ATM owner.

For example, many ATMs in Thailand will charge for an ATM withdrawal, usually 150 Thai Baht (about £3), regardless of the amount you withdraw. A large number of banks in the US will also charge, but they normally inform you of this before letting you proceed. Unfortunately, if the ATM owner chooses to charge for a withdrawal, there is nothing we can do to prevent or refund this charge as it is not levied by travel money card provider.

  1. Automated petrol stations

Automated petrol stations on the continent usually take a security deposit when you first swipe your card. No money actually leaves your account at this point, but your available balance is reduced.

A couple of days later (it can be up to 15 days), they will process a settlement increase for €120 (for example) which will raise your available balance by €120. Simultaneously, they will process a settlement decrease where they will remove funds from your card to cover the actual amount of fuel you purchased for example €45. In the period between the two your account will appear to have been debited by €120, but it has not.

Only when the settlement decrease goes through has money actually left your account.

This procedure is not unique to FX cards, or indeed any prepaid card. All cards issued by any institution are treated in the same way whether they are debit, credit or prepaid cards.

  1. Toll booths

Currency cards require a merchant to seek authorisation before they provide the goods or services. The majority of European toll roads and bridges do not seek an authorisation and therefore you can't use your Currency card at most toll booths.

  1. Changing your PIN

You can change your PIN at most UK cash machines. But don't leave it until you're away - overseas cash machines won't allow you to do this. Some UK ATMs may tell you that you will be charged for this service - you won't be.

  1. Take a back up card, in case of emergencies

It might be obvious, but look after your card - you might lose some or all of the funds on it if the card is lost. A good back-up plan is to take a secondary card and leave it in the hotel safe. That way, if your card does get lost or stolen, you can block it and use your back-up.

  1. Cards expire at the end of the month

The card expiry month, is shown on your currency card under, 'expires end'. Your card will always expire on the last working day of the month.

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