Using you existing debit card or credit card when you’re on holiday or business outside the UK can prove expensive due to the charges levied, but there is a cheaper alternative that’s worth packing with your passport.
For example make a cash withdrawal with a Lloyds Bank or TSB debit card abroad and you’ll be charged a 2.99% non sterling transaction charge plus a 1.50% (minimum £2) withdrawal fee.
That means a £200 withdrawal from a cash machine will set you back charges of £8.98.
If you use the card to make a purchase you’ll be charged the 2.99% non sterling levy plus a fixed charge of £1 per transaction.
Most debit and credit cards charge a 2.75% to 2.99% non-sterling mark up on all ATM and purchase transactions, plus you’ll pay up to an extra 5% for cash withdrawals with some credit cards.
Check with your bank to see what the charges are for your plastic as it may be worth taking a prepaid currency card instead.
A prepaid currency card is not a credit card, and you can only spend what you put on it so there’s no chance of getting into debt problems, plus there are no credit checks when you apply.
With a prepaid currency card you apply for the card online and it normally takes between 7 and 10 working days before it lands on your doormat.
You can apply for a Euro card, a US Dollar card or a Sterling card – the latter allows you to use it in any country.
With a Euro or Dollar card the exchange rate is locked in at the time you transfer the money from your debit card onto the prepaid card, so if the rate goes up or down afterwards it doesn’t make any difference to the rate you have on your card.
This is different to a debit card, credit card and sterling prepaid card where the exchange rate is the one available on the day you make each individual transaction.
Prepaid currency cards are all chip and pin secure and backed by MasterCard or Visa and so accepted in mullions of outlets all over the world.
Here are five of the most competitive prepaid currency cards:
Ukash – Euro or US Dollar cards – no annual fee and no charges for purchases or overseas ATM withdrawals – details here.
FairFX – £9.95 one off fee for the card but no charge for purchases and 1.50 Euros per ATM withdrawal – more details.
CaxtonFX – Euros or US Dollars – no card fee or annual fee and no charges on ATM or purchases abroad – more details.
Centtrip – £10 annual fee – a multi-currency card more suited to the frequent traveller and bigger spender. It costs 0.5% charge to load funds on the card and £1.60 per ATM withdrawal but you can switch between 14 currencies on a single card at a very competitive exchange rate – more details.
My Travel Cash – Euros or US Dollars – no purchase or ATM fees plus you earn 1% cashback on all purchases – more details.