In 2018, 93 million Americans traveled overseas.
Besides the usual things on the to-do list of a traveler, like packing your bag and booking accommodations, when you travel to another country there’s one extra thing to think about: the currency.
When you don’t consider exchange rates, it’s easy to end up spending a little bit too much during your trip.
So how can you make sure that you stay within budget? Three words: travel money card. Keep reading to learn more.
What Is a Travel Money Card and Why Use It?
Travel money cards are similar to your credit or debit cards, in the sense that you can use them to withdraw money and make payments.
The difference is that they’re made for travelers to buy money in other currencies and easily take it with them.
A lot of times, travelers opt for prepaid travel cards. This means that you choose a certain amount that you want to spend during your trip and you cannot exceed that.
The benefits of using a travel money card are clear:
- It’s easier and safer than always carrying cash with you
- You can pre-load your card when the exchange rate is at its best
- If you spend more than planned, most cards allow you to reload it through your phone
- You’ll be using the local currency, which means no conversion fees
- The card is not linked to your bank account, which means there are fewer chances of theft or fraud
3 Best Travel Money Cards of 2019
Despite all the advantages that we just listed, the popularity of travel money cards in the U.S is fairly new. The truth is that just 7 years ago, in 2012, only 5% of the American population had traveled to another country.
Because the number started to increase recently, there are still not that many options for American travelers.
Here are 3 of the travel money cards that you can choose from and the benefits of each:
Travelex Money Card
Initial fee: Variable by location
Monthly fee: N/A
Foreign ATM Withdrawal fee: N/A
Reload fee: N/A
Inactivity fee: $3 per inactive month
The Travelex Money Card is considered by many to be the best travel card for U.S travelers.
It’s a prepaid Mastercard that’s accepted worldwide and that supports up to 6 different currencies.
When you make a purchase in a certain country, the card is debited in the corresponding currency. If you don’t have enough money in that currency, the card will automatically try to debit in other currencies in a specific order.
This card also offers Wi-fi access and an extra card for $7.50 (in case you lose the first one). Plus, there’s an app where you can manage your budget and all your transactions.
This card has a maximum balance of $8,500, a withdrawal limit of $1,000 per day and a minimum reload amount of $50.
Pink Netspend® Visa® Prepaid Card
Initial fee: $0
Monthly fee: Up to $9.95
Foreign ATM Withdrawal fee: $2.50
Reload fee: $0 to $3.95
Inactivity fee: $5.95 after 90 days of inactivity
Besides being a prepaid travel card, the Pink Netspend® Visa® Prepaid Card is also a rewards card. You earn cash back (as well as personalized deals) on a lot of the purchases you make.
Netspend has a mobile app where you can manage your money. If you want to be extra careful about your budget, you can also choose to get text or email notifications.
The Pink Netspend® Visa® Prepaid Card has a withdrawal limit of $940 per day and a direct deposit limit of $15,000 per day. There’s also a fee of $2 for purchases that require you to enter a pin in order to validate them.
If you lose it, you’ll have to spend $9.95 on a card replacement.
PayPal Prepaid MasterCard®
Initial fee: $0
Monthly fee: Up to $4.95
Foreign ATM Withdrawal fee: $1.95
Reload fee: $0, but it has to be from your PayPal account
Inactivity fee: $0
Do you have a PayPal account? Then this might be the ideal card for you to use abroad.
You can link it to your Paypal account and easily move the money you have there at no charge. Like the previous one, the PayPal Prepaid MasterCard® is also a rewards card.
It has a withdrawal limit of $940 per day and a reload limit of $300 per day. The maximum balance you can have on a PayPal prepaid card is of $2,500. It may not seem like much, but since reloads are free, this limit is not a problem.
Unlike the previous card, there’s no fee for purchases that require a pin code.
A Few Tips to Make the Most of Your Card
Travel money cards are different than your usual credit or debit cards. So there’s some information you should be aware of before you start using it.
The tips we have for you are pretty simple but they can be really useful. After all, you don’t want to find yourself in unnecessary stressful situations during your travelings.
Make sure to:
- Take a backup card in case something happens to the travel money card;
- Take a credit card if you’re planning on renting a car or make any bookings online;
- Double check that the card you’re planning on buying supports the currency you need;
- Keep an eye on exchange rates to lock in the best one.
Following these tips will help avoid some common mistakes travelers make and have a relaxed trip.
If you’re traveling, you might also be interested in airline miles cards or hotel rewards card. We have articles on both topics in our blog, go check them out!