Getting access to your money abroad while spending as little as possible in fees is essential when you live and work overseas. If you are earning in one currency and spending in another currency, you will have to find the most convenient and affordable way to get access to your money.
Prepaid currency cards are one of the best ways to do this, and I have been using them for years – over which time I have probably managed to save many hundreds of pounds in fees, if not more.
The Most Popular Prepaid Cards
There are lots of cards to choose from, so you’ll have to have a look through them to see which you prefer. One of the main ones is Caxton FX, which offers three cards: Global Traveller, Dollar Traveller and Europe Traveller. The best card for you depends upon where you are going to be living (so if you’re going to be in Europe, the Europe Traveller card will be the best bet).
Many of the other companies provide three different cards in the same currencies, including My Travel Cash, Travel Money Card Plus from the Post Office, and FairFX. The AA offers Worldwide and Euro cards, and Virgin Money has Dollar and Euro cards, but there are more companies available so take your pick.
Why Use Them?
Most prepaid cards come with no fees for ATM extractions, and they are usually free to use when making purchases in shops. If you use a standard credit card, you can get hit with a whole load of fees, including a transaction fee and a load charge, which is another cost added on by the banks. You will then have to pay interest on your purchases and extractions as well.
However, there are some credit and debit cards that are pretty good for using abroad. MoneySavingExpert has a very detailed section here so I won’t go into too many details, but Halifax, Saga and Nationwide come at the top of the list.
Clearly, carrying around cards is safer than cash, and if you lose your prepaid card you can just cancel it so that your money is safe.
You can also apply for lots of these cards to take away with you. They are not credit cards, so although you have to apply for them via the companies’ websites, many do not involve credit checks. Applying for numerous credit cards, on the other hand, can affect your credit score, and you will have to open new bank accounts to apply for debit cards.
I am always of the opinion that it is a good idea to take a number of cards with you when you go abroad as you never know what might happen. If you just have one debit card and you lose it, this can cause serious problems. Take a few with you with the intention of only using one, and you always have a way to get access to your money.
Currency Exchange Bonus
Exchange rates are all over the place at the moment, but with these cards you get to load up your card at the current rate of exchange, so you could load it up with money months in advance. If you load up dollars from your sterling bank account at a good rate and then the rate worsens a few months later when you travel, you will win (of course, it could work the other way as well).
Make the Most of Your Money Abroad
Always be on the lookout for the best deal when you live and work abroad. Little charges can add up significantly when staying overseas for a long period of time. There are some good savings to be had by using prepaid cards, and they also provide you with a convenient option. Check some out for yourself and consider taking some along with you when you next go abroad.