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Travel Cash Cards

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1. Posted by Perry89 (Budding Member 5 posts) 31w

Perry89 has indicated that this thread is about Travel Tips and Advice

I've been advised on getting a travel cash card instead of using my debit card whilst I am in South East Asia. I have been recommended to get one from CaxtonFX. Would anyone recommend any other companies?

Also, would people recommend getting a couple of travel cash cards, just in-case I lose one or the other. So then I will still have another card to use until the replacement of my other cash card arrives.

And I'm a little confused with how it all works. I understand it's a prepaid card... however I'm going to Australia for a week or 2 beforehand then flying to BKK... If for example I transfer $800(Aus) onto that card and only spend $500. Can I withdraw the remaining $300 in Baht once I arrived in Thailand? OR do I have to ring up and ask them to change it all around every time I enter a country with a different currency?


2. Posted by OldPro (Respected Member 238 posts) 31w

Seems like you are stumbling across all the common issues Perry89.

In simple terms, travel cash cards are for people who cannot get a normal bank debit and credit cards. Typically, students with no credit history or someone with a bad credit history. They are NEVER the best way to access your cash if you can get bank cards.

As a Brit you are lucky in that there is a very good website that is kept updated and that tells you which cards are the best for a traveller from the UK to have. Read here:

As you will see, there a several credit and debit cards on which you will pay no fees or exchange loading. Someone from the UK who travels with a Halifax Clarity credit card and a Norwich & Peterborough debit card has the best of both worlds.

Then read this link on pre-paid cash cards:

You may not need to read beyond the first statement on that link. "Before you pick a prepaid card, it's worth checking out the other options. Travel credit cards give you better rates than you'll get on these cards."

The pre-paid card suppliers have done a good job of marketing their products to the gullible but really, they are for those without credit history as I said or those who can't control their spending on a credit card. In other words, cards for dummies. I'll leave it up to you to decide if that category fits you or not.

You'll notice they don't even rate the CaxtonFX card in their list of acceptable cards at all. So much for the advice you got.

3. Posted by Perry89 (Budding Member 5 posts) 31w

OldPro, always here to help in an instant! Thank you!

Okay, so by the looks and sounds of things... Getting a travel credit card is the cheapest and more efficient way to save on fees and it it is certainly something I could do. However "lending" money is something I've never been comfortable in doing. Especially how banks are getting greedier by the day...

Overall I have saved over £3k for this trip. Of course the last thing I want to do is have 'All my eggs in one basket'. I do have a credit rating. It's not the best but it's just below average.. So not the worst. I've never had a loan or a credit card in the past. But have always paid everything on time. So this is all new to me.

In all honesty.. When it comes down to things like this.. I am a dummy, so please bear with me So these travelers credit cards.. Basically.. I simply withdraw/use whatever I need at the time and then before the end of the month, I simply pay off whatever I have used throughout that month from the money in my UK bank account?

4. Posted by Andyf (Travel Guru 649 posts) 31w

I take a different view on prepaid debit cards.

To me they offer security. I can leave the card for my current account at home, where it's safe, and on the road just have the login details of my FairFX card which allows me to top up from my current account to the prepaid card.

Then if anything happens to the card, my loss is limited, my main account secure, and I can do this with a couple of cards to give me a backup.

At the time I got it, my card was the best buy on (which I heartily endorse), and I've found the rates better than those from my banks.

5. Posted by OldPro (Respected Member 238 posts) 31w

Sigh, like I said, the pre-paid card suppliers have done a good job of marketing their products.

Security. My credit/debit card suppliers provide me with a guarantee that if my card is lost or stolen or the number used in some way to make a fraudulent transaction, that I will not lose nothing. That is a written guarantee. A pre-paid card is no more secure in any way.

I don't need or want to leave my current accounts cards at home. I want access to my funds at all times. I can log-in securely to my accounts at all times from anywhere. I don't need to TRANSFER funds to 'top-up'.

If my card is lost/stolen, I have NO loss, my accounts are secure and I can do this with a couple of cards to give me backup.

As Moneysavingexpert clearly says, "Before you pick a prepaid card, it's worth checking out the other options. Travel credit cards give you better rates than you'll get on these cards."

The simple fact is that your FairFX card is costing you more and providing you no added value Andyf than the right credit and debit cards would. Pre-paid cards are more secure compared to carrying cash and they may give a decent rate compared to your bank but they are not the BEST way to handle your money.

One of the better pre-paid cards may even give you a better rate than some of the worst debit/credit cards but they will not beat or even match the best debit/credit cards. So when you say you have found the rates better than from your banks, I don't doubt you at all, I just understand that you are using the wrong banks.

I could go into detail of all the negatives of pre-paid cards but I don't see any need to do that other than to say there are quite a few. All that matters is that they are not the BEST way to handle your money when travelling. The BEST way is to have the RIGHT debit/credit cards from the RIGHT banks.

Perry89, yes that is basically correct. You use a credit card to pay for things whenever possible and a debit card to withdraw cash as needed. You can then go online through your bank's secure server to check your statement and make a payment. That applies only to your credit card of course since any withdrawal using your debit card does not need any payment, it is a withdrawal directly from your bank account.

Knowing how to use cards wisely is learned just like anything else. When you travel, you have to think through the possible scenarios and prepare accordingly. So for example, let's suppose your card is lost/stolen, what do you do?

Well, you call your card provider and cancel the card and arrange for a new one to be sent to you. But what about in the meantime till they somehow get that card to you? They don't magically get one to you in a half hour. If it was a pre-paid card, unless you are carrying a second pre-paid card or a 'normal' debit/credit card for your bank account, you are out of luck till the replacement gets to you, it is as simple as that. You are definitely out of luck accessing the funds that were on that lost pre-paid card until they can get another one to you.

Here's what happens if I lose a card. I call and report it and ask to have the replacement sent to my home address, not have them try to catch up with me when I don't even know where I will be next week. I then go online and transfer all the funds in the account associated with the lost card to another account on which I have ANOTHER card in my OTHER pocket. Total time I am without access to my funds is as long as it takes me to make that transfer of funds. Say, 5 minutes.

So the savvy traveller never travels with just one set of cards. I travel with 2 sets for 2 different bank accounts with 2 different banks. My wife also carries 2 sets, 1 from one of the same accounts as mine and the second for a third bank that is part of the VISA system as both our other banks use the MasterCard system and you can occasionally end up in a situation where only one or the other system is available. A MC card is useless if VISA machines are the only game in town. The more off the beaten tourist track you go, the more likely that is to happen but sometimes a machine is just down temporarily and the bank across the street is on the other system. So it pays to have both. You do not as you say Perry89, want to have all your eggs in one basket. What you want is a couple of baskets and the means to both access and move the eggs from one to the other.

So if you had a Halifax Clarity credit card (or any of the others MSE recommends) and a debit card from Norwich & Peterborough (or another), you can lose either card and still transfer funds to the account associated with the card you didn't lose and still access ALL your funds with the second card. To be able to transfer funds between two different banks, you just need to have set up beforehand to make interbank transfers between the two accounts. It is no different than setting up to make a bill payment online to a regular creditor like your phone company, etc.

As you have not used cards before, I would suggest you get the cards you decide on before you go on your trip and get used to using them and making a payment IN FULL on the credit card statement when it is due.

I understand a reluctance to borrow money. Many people do not have the self-discipline to use a credit card wisely and get into a lot of debt as a result. Again, only you know you and whether you fall into that category.

I look at a credit card as a way to MAKE money. In fact, the bank gives me money for doing nothing! I pay everything with a credit card and then pay the balance owing IN FULL on the due date. Now here is how I make money. My bank account pays me daily interest on my balance. If my money is sitting in my bank account all month and only goes out on the day I make my credit card payment, then my money has been earning me interest every day of that month. In fact, I have been spending other people's money (the merchants I buy from) all month while my money has been sitting earning me interest!

So don't see a credit card as you borrowing money or the bank lending you money on which you will then have to pay interest as you would on a loan.

Post 6 was removed by a moderator
7. Posted by Andyf (Travel Guru 649 posts) 31w

No-one is allowed a different view to you, clearly, OldPro.

8. Posted by OldPro (Respected Member 238 posts) 31w

Everyone is allowed a view on anything they want Andyf and that includes me. Even if it does not agree with your view. Shoe ......other foot.

If you want to say to Perry89 that pre-paid cards are better than the best credit and debit cards, you are free to say so. However, you may then have to explain how they are better. So far all you have suggested is that they are secure. So are credit and debit cards so being secure is no reason to suggest a pre-paid card would be better for Perry89.

You respond no one is allowed a different view to me but you don't say what your view is on what a pre-paid card costs you to use vs. the right credit/debit cards. It costs you money to use your FairFX card. They charge fees and use their own exchange rate which is better than many other pre-paid cards but not as good as the best credit/debit card exchange rates. Do you want to just ignore that and instead focus on my being a bad guy because I disagree with you and point out why pre-paid cards are not the best way to handle your money and that they cost you money? What is the objective here? To find the best way to handle money or to just try and defend what you do? If you listened, you could save money on your future travels. Tell me why you want to give money to FairFX when using a different card would cost you nothing?

I retired at a much younger age than is the norm Andyf. For the last 26 years I have been travelling and living in various countries and for all of that time, my income has been derived in 1 or more countries while I have been in other countries. Almost all my banking has been done through the use of debit/credit cards for that entire time. I don't deal with exchange rates sometimes, I deal with them on every single penny that I spend. That being the case, it should be obvious that understanding exchange and what cards charge is an important subject to me. And being retired, I have all the time I want to research that subject frequently.

I have used cards that cost me ZERO in fees or exchanging loading for decades Andyf. They aren't new. Most people use cards that cost them fees and exchange loading simply because they don't know any better. They have never had the time or the inclination to research whether there is a better choice. That's understandable but it's also rather senseless to try and defend continuing to do that when they discover a better way.

For a traveller from the UK, the best way to handle money when travelling is with one of the right debit and credit cards. Moneysavingexpert is a very good website for finding out just which cards those are at any given time. One of the pluses of that website is that it is constantly updated, something that is not the case with a lot of other websites. You say you endorse Moneysavingexpert and yet you admit to disregarding their advice on the best way to handle your money. You aren't just disagreeing with me, you are disagreeing with them as well. Do you write to them and suggest that they don't allow anyone to have a different view from their view?

If you want to give money to FairFX, that's your choice to make but there is no point in trying to disagree with it not being the best way to handle money when travelling.

I have half a dozen different credit cards from 3 different countries that I use for different things because one is better than the other in a given situation. For example, if I rent a car I use a particular card because it provides me with free rental car insurance. That card charges me 2.5% on exchange but it saves me a whole lot more than that on rental car insurance. So it is the best card to use for that need.

I have another card (relatively recently acquired) that I now use as my primary travel card which also charges me 2.5% on exchange. So why you might ask would I use that card rather than a card that charges zero exchange loading? Because that card pays me 3% cash back on every penny I transact with it. So I actually now make a .5% PROFIT on money I spend when travelling. That's better than a card that charges zero. It just doesn't happen to be a card available in the UK, so there is no point in suggesting it to Perry89.

As I wrote, knowing how to use cards wisely is learned just like anything else. I have spent the last 26 years learning about them.

9. Posted by Andyf (Travel Guru 649 posts) 31w

Perhaps this is a personality clash but it feels like you're pretty opinionated and dish out lengthy rants when someone gives a different view to you. I'm generally happy to deal with robust debate, but others may not be. Let's not sour the forum in that way, this is a good natured place where people come for comments and advice. Other views to yours are valid. We're all grumpy occasionally but let's try to give up telling people they should just be googling instead of asking here, and let's give up calling people stupid - two things you've done recently.

10. Posted by OldPro (Respected Member 238 posts) 31w

Andyf, it may as you say be a personality clash. I certainly am not here to fight with other posters.

I enjoy a discussion or debate and try to keep it focused on the topic, not the person. I don't write personal insults or anything like that. But what I find, is that often, if you disagree with something someone has written, they take it personally. If I say using pre-paid cards is not the best way to handle your money, you can CHOOSE to take that as my saying that if you use them YOU are somehow stupid OR you can take it as written, pre-paid cards are not the best way to handle your money. It isn't about YOU, it is about what you may be doing. It is not personal at all unless you choose to interpret that way.

All of us do stupid things sometimes but that does not make us a stupid person. It is what we DO that may be stupid in hindsight but that is not the same as saying a person is stupid. The most common reason for doing something stupid is simply not KNOWING any better. When we learn there is a better way, then we can change to that way.

It is not a question in this case of having a different 'view'. There is no different view. A pre-paid card costs you money. The best credit/debit cards cost you nothing. That is a fact, not an opinion. So what is there to have a different view of? I don't think your view is that it doesn't matter if pre-paid cards cost you money is it?

Perry89 wants to know how to handle his money. There is in FACT a best way. We are talking about money, therefore the best way is the way that does not cost you any money. Do you want to debate that? And I am asking you that question in the nicest possible way with no personal insult or disparagement intended. I don't see how anyone could have any other 'view' of that.

As for 'lengthy', I happen to be a touch typist (learned in high school), not a hunt and peck or two thumb 'keying' person. I can type nearly as fast as the thoughts come to my mind. For me therefore, it isn't 'lengthy'. You might also want to ask yourself if you are being insulting to me when you refer to what I write as a 'rant'. Or were you just referring to how much I write and calling anything that lengthy a rant? Would I be misinterpreting it if I took it that you were referring to me personally as a 'ranter'?

[ Edit: Edited on 21-Mar-2016, at 08:55 by OldPro ]

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