So you’re jetting off on your next big adventure, lucky you! Holidays are meant to help you relax, so don’t put yourself in an embarrassing position where you’re stuck unable to pay because you don’t know how your prepaid travel card works. If you’re looking to set your budget in advance by locking in a great exchange rate, a prepaid travel card could be the right fit for you.
Before you start thinking about how many pairs of socks and undies you need (it’s less than you think), have a look over some frequently asked questions about prepaid travel cards so you can really kick your feet up knowing you’re set, money-wise.
How do prepaid travel cards work and how do I use it?
Prepaid travel cards work much the same as your everyday debit card - you take it along with you on your overseas holiday to pay for everything from souvenirs to fancy dinners without having to carry cash around. The difference is, it’s designed to be used overseas, giving you access to money in the currency of whatever destination you’re visiting. Here’s a quick and easy guide to using your prepaid travel card:
- Shop for the card. Getting a travel money card is simple and can either be ordered online or picked up in branch (or foreign exchange store). It’s a good idea to shop around as fees and exchange rates can vary between banks and foreign exchange providers.
- Think about your itinerary and budget. You’ll have to consider in advance what currencies you’ll need and how much you’ll spend in each place so you can top up your card before you go.
- Load your card. Once you know what you need, loading your card with money couldn’t be simpler. Go online to transfer money onto your prepaid travel card in the appropriate currency. Don’t fret - you can always reload your card with more money if need be, or add a new currency if your travel plans change on the go.
- Keep an eye on your account. Monitoring your spending is a great way to make sure you’re keeping within budget and avoiding potential fraud.
What are the benefits of using a prepaid travel card?
Made for ease and convenience, prepaid travel cards offer great features to make sure you can do what you originally intended to do on your holiday: relax. Here are just a few perks of using a prepaid travel card:
- Locked in exchange rate. One benefit of using a prepaid travel card is that you’ll be able to lock in an exchange rate so you won’t have to worry about the Aussie dollar dropping while you’re away.
- Easy budgeting. With locked in exchange rates, your budgeting will become easier as you’ll know exactly how much you have to spend overseas. And if you’re visiting more than one country, you can transfer money in each currency you need so you know how much you have to spend in each place.
- Spending your own money. There’s little risk of going over budget when all of your funds are pre-loaded. There is the option of reloading your card, but it’s harder to do than simply swiping a credit card.
- Safer than carrying cash. Prepaid travel cards are PIN protected so it means that you don’t have to carry lots of cash on you.
Are prepaid travel cards accepted in every country?
No. Whilst prepaid travel cards are generally available for use in countries that widely accept Visa and Mastercard, the currencies available are limited to mostly popular travel destinations. It doesn’t hurt to check that the card you want has the right currency available, but keep in mind that many have options to use unsupported currencies, you’ll just pay a fee.
Should I get a prepaid travel card, travel debit card or travel credit card?
With so many options for your travel money plastic, it can be confusing to know which one to choose. If you’re on the fence about whether to go prepaid debit or credit, here are a few points to help you make a decision:
- Prepaid travel card. Prepaid travel cards are an easy and convenient way to spend money overseas. They’re great for those who want to stick to a budget by locking in an exchange rate and don’t want to use a credit card.
- Travel debit card. A travel debit card only converts money into foreign currency when you make purchases so it might suit those who have more open travel plans and are comfortable with the fact that exchange rates might change as they travel.
- Travel credit card. Consider a travel credit card if you want more flexibility in your spending and want to rack up rewards points as you travel.
For a more in depth guide, check out this list of pros and cons for all your travel spending options.
Are there any hidden fees I should look out for with my prepaid travel card?
The last thing you want on a holiday is fees eating into your holiday budget, so it’s good to familiarise yourself with them so they become easier to avoid. Here’s a list of fees to look out for on your search for a prepaid travel card:
- Purchase fee. Some cards are free, others you have to pay for. In some cases, it’s free to order it online but costs a fee to set it up in branch.
- Reload fee. You could be charged a fee for topping up your card on-the-go, so it’s handy to working out your budget ahead of time to avoid having to reload.
- ATM withdrawal fee. Most prepaid travel cards have ATM withdrawal fees, but with some searching you can find one that doesn’t. Keep in mind that some ATMs overseas charge their own usage fees, so you could end up paying fees on both ends.
- Cross currency conversion fee. This is a fee charged by your prepaid travel card provider when you use a currency that isn’t loaded up on your account. Best to avoid this because this is generally the highest fee you’ll pay.
- Inactivity fee. Some cards charge a fee if you’ve kept your account open but haven’t used your card in a while, usually after 12 months.
- Card closure fee. Shutting down your account after your big trip will sometimes incur a charge, so if you’re planning to use it again soon, it may be a good idea to keep your account open.
Can I reload my prepaid travel card?
Absolutely! A piece of plastic isn’t going to get in the way of you and that day trip out to the Phi Phi Islands. Usually, you can go online or use your app to add however much money you may need. Just be aware that some prepaid travel cards that have reload fees which could see you paying for the convenience of topping up your account.
Another thing to be aware of, reloads are not always instantaneous, particularly if you reload via BPay as it could take a few days for the funds to appear in your account. To avoid getting caught out without funds, it’s a good idea to reload a few days ahead of when you want access to your money.
What happens if I have money left on my prepaid travel card when I come back?
It’s hard to believe, but some people come back from a holiday with money left over. If you’re one of these responsible folk, you’ll be happy to know that you can easily transfer money back into your everyday transaction account. The catch is, you’ll usually have to pay a fee to reclaim those funds. This fee is normally a percentage of the amount you’re transferring off your card, so make sure it’s actually worth making the transfer.
Something else to note is that if the Aussie dollar has dropped while you’ve been away, you could lose a money when you transfer it back. If you can spare the time, waiting for the Aussie dollar to be high again could save you a few bucks.
How can I get the best deal on my prepaid travel card?
So you’ve decided travelling with a prepaid travel card is your best bet, and now you’re wondering, which one do I choose? Mozo’s travel card hub wants to help you compare your options so you find a card with little to no fees and a great exchange rate.