The average person’s travel habits have changed greatly over the past two decades and so, too, has the way we pay for travel. It’s easier and cheaper to grab a flight and a hotel for most individuals and families. As such, we travel more often, which has led to financial options specifically for those who travel frequently. The travel card is one such option, but what is it, how is it, and is it worth it?
What are travel cards?
According to Lending Expert’s guide a travel card is much like a debit or credit card, expect you pay for the amount you plan on spending in advance. They allow you to load them up with multiple currencies, helping you ensure you have the money you need for your specific destination. This currency converts automatically when travelling to other countries.
Travel cards are used regularly by travellers not only because many offer specific savings advantages, but also because they’re safer, giving you another way to carry money around with you that isn’t cash or your debit and credit cards. Furthermore, they encourage good budgeting, as you have to figure out how much you’re going to spend in advance and stick to that budget.
How to use travel cards
Travel cards are utilitarian tools for travelling abroad and spending in foreign currency. However, it’s still important to use them wisely and mindfully. Here are a few tips on how to get the best out of your travel card:
• As with all cards, shop around before you agree to pay. Compare currency conversion rates, fees, and look at features that might best suit your needs
• Choose your currencies carefully. You can pre-pay to get funds in any currency you want, but “exhausting” on currency means your other money converts into that currency automatically, with conversion fees attached.
• Look for cards without common fees, like ATM withdrawal fees, as these costs can build up over time.
• Check your travel card’s online account every day so you better understand your spending habits and adjust your budget as necessary.
• Test out your travel card before you go abroad to make sure you’re not stuck without it.
Looking at the market
So, what are the best travel cards available right now? A full comparison of all the top travel cards currently available would be a full article in and of itself, so here are a few highlights:
• The Barclaycard Platinum Cashback Plus has 0% exchange rate fees in Europe and Worldwide, with no withdrawal fees overseas and 0.25% cashback on spending.
• The Tandem card offers 0.5% cashback on spending, with no fees for overseas spending so long as you repay in full.
• The Halifax Clarity has no interest on spending when you pay in full, and no fees on spending or withdrawing cash when abroad.
Travel cards are a fast-growing market with not only financial institutions but travel agencies getting involved, too. Make sure you scan the market carefully for the best deals and be fully aware of any fees that might not be obvious at a first glance before making your purchase.