Holidays: which card makes the cut?

Published on 1 January 1970 by Raffick Marday

You may not want to take wads of cash away with you on holiday, and with foreigners being an obvious target for thieves and pickpockets, this is a wise approach.

prepaid cards on holidayTaking a credit, debit or prepaid card is considered a safer alternative, although if you haven’t thought your options through carefully it can wind up getting quite expensive.

Travel plastic: MasterCard and Visa

If you’re jetting off with a credit or debit card, it may be best to go with the two biggest card providers, MasterCard or Visa, since they are likely to be more widely accepted.

In general, MasterCard is more acceptable in Europe and Visa can be used worldwide. It’s a good idea to carry both – particularly if you’re travelling further afield than Europe – to keep your options open and ensure you have a reliable payment method that can be used wherever in the world you might be.

If you’re planning on taking a credit card overseas, it is advisable to take a small amount of currency as well, since withdrawing cash using a credit card can be expensive.

Cash withdrawal fees, interest, foreign usage charges and charges for using cash machines can all stack up alarmingly quickly, pushing you well over your budget.

Are prepaid cards the better alternative?

If you’d rather stay on top of your budget, a prepaid card might be preferable. So how do these work? You load the card with credit before you jet off – or online while you’re away – similar to a pay as you go mobile phone.

You are then limited to spending up to the credit you’ve put onto the card, which goes a long way towards keeping your expenditure in line with your pre-planned budget.

The one thing to check before settling on this option is whether the currency of the country you are travelling to is available for such a card, so be sure to take this into consideration before making any decisions.

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