A prepaid travel card is foreign currency in the form of a card, which you can use for your spending purposes abroad. Also referred to as travel money card, a prepaid travel card is a plastic card similar to a credit or debit card in appearance. You can pre-load a card with a single foreign currency or multiple currencies of your choice. Prepaid cards offer the convenience of easy access to money when abroad without the need for a bank or credit card account.

Prepaid Cards Accommodate Various Spending Needs

You can use a prepaid travel card for your shopping needs, or to pay for your food, stay, and other services, when abroad, at all locations supporting the card; for example, if you are using a MasterCard prepaid travel card, you can use the card at all commercial locations accepting MasterCard. Just swipe the prepaid card to make a payment.

Prepaid Cards: Purchase, Exchange Rates and Top-up

Prepaid travel cards are offered by financial institutions such as banks, foreign exchange outlets, and money transfer service providers. You can purchase a prepaid card in person by visiting the service provider outlet. Many service providers also offer online card purchase facility.

Load your prepaid card with a select foreign currency or currencies of your choice. Load the card for as much amount as you want within the minimum and maximum limits specified by the card provider. There are single and multi-currency prepaid cards. Choose cards depending on your requirement; for example, if you are planning a vacation trip to multiple countries, a multi-currency card could be beneficial.

Some card providers may charge a fee towards card application. You can pay for the card and the amount you want to load, in cash, or using your debit card or bank account; check with the card issuer about their acceptable modes of payment. You may receive the card immediately or it could take a few days to reach you.

Exchange rates are applicable as according to the rate prevailing at the time of loading the card. But, some cards offer you the advantage of locked-in exchange rates. For example, cards such as Cash Passport (available in the UK, Australia, New Zealand, Brazil, and South Africa) and gocash (available in the UAE) lock in exchange rate applicable for the foreign currency at the time of load. The exchange rate remains the same till you reload the card. Ask your card issuer if their card offers such features.

Some cards may need to be activated on purchase. Some may require you to register to avail facilities such as card top-up. Get clear instructions from the issuer or read instructions on the card for using the card effectively.

You can reload, or check the balance on the card, by visiting an authorised retail outlet, or online, or through a phone call or SMS. Check with the service provider to know about the channels they offer for such activities.