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A few years ago, I was careless on a trip and temporarily misplaced my Visa debit card. Because I had very little cash with me (another dumb mistake: always carry at least US$200 or the local equivalent in emergency cash) and I only had one other credit card that was close to its low limit, I could have been in tough situation. I eventually located my debit card, but my mind was at ease because I made a smart decision before the trip. I brought along a relatively new product called the Money Card from Travelex.
Basically the Money Card is a reloadable debit card — licensed by MasterCard — that allows you to securely and conveniently carry with you up to six currencies that include Euros, British pounds, Australian dollars, Japanese yen, Canadian dollars and Mexican pesos. Why would you want to carry this if you can pay by credit card in local currencies? The issue is not paying by credit but gaining easy access to cash. Added benefits are you can lock in your exchange rate and it’s accepted at millions of locations around the world.
Let’s face it, no one uses travelers cheques anymore. They are not always accepted and they are inconvenient to use. What I like about the Money Card is it’s a third way to access cash besides carrying it with you or relying on your debit card which doesn’t always work. There are no ATM fees charged by Travelex because you pay most fees on the front end instead. It’s also secure because it’s not linked to your bank account.
There are a few caveats. You should plan on using this just for cash, not for paying for things such as gas or a hotel. When you use an ATM, you may be charged a fee by the ATM operator. A monthly inactivity fee will be charged after 12 months of inactivity so you will want to use up your currency during your trip. Also, a currency transfer of 5.5% applies when moving funds from one currency to another.
Overall, it’s a good product to travel safely with multiple currencies with easy access to cash. It’s not perfect, but I have used it so far with all the currencies but yen. It’s been very handy, convenient and dependable during my travels. My wish is that they expand it to include Chinese yuan, Brazilian reais, Indian rupees, Thai baht, South Korean won and South African rand.
Categories: Great Gear