/ Money, Travel & Leisure

Are these new travel cards the future of holiday spending?

travel money

As something of a keen traveller (colleagues sometimes joke I would be better working for Which? Travel, than Which? Money) I already have dedicated credit and debit cards with 0% fees to use overseas. This has worked really well to date, but that could change…

When I was lucky enough to travel for four months over the summer last year I was able to avoid any foreign spending fees and ATM withdrawal fees. Had I not used these special cards I would have easily racked up £100s in additional costs (money much better spent on enjoying the trip!)

But I’ve recently become aware of a few whizzier options for managing my overseas spending.

Holiday spending

These options not can only keep costs low, but also have additional features that make them worth serious consideration.

The Revolut card for example, essentially offers an international currency account that you manage via an app on your phone. You can transfer cash into your Revolut account directly from your bank account, then when you spend money on your card it is converted into local currency (at a competitive exchange rate) with no fees. You can also send any money left in your Revolut account back to your bank account, for free.

But one of my favourite things about it is all the additional security features it offers. You can instantly activate and deactivate the card via your phone or make it so that only transactions that happen in the same location as your phone (i.e. you!) will be approved. Cash withdrawals are fee-free, provided you take out less than £500 a month (possibly not enough if you are on a long-trip).

Just this week Travelex also launched its Supercard. It ran a pilot scheme last year, but this time the card is open to everyone. It works by linking your existing credit and debit cards to the Supercard, and then when you spend money overseas the money is deducted directly from your UK accounts, with no fees. But watch out if you’re the kind of person that likes to be able to withdraw cash on your overseas trips as cash withdrawals currently come with a 2.99% fee.

Like Revolut you can monitor your spending via an app. Although at the moment there is not the functionality to instantly block the card (although Travelex says this can be done instantly via its customer services).

Over to you

I can be a bit of a technophobe sometimes, but I think both of these cards are worth serious consideration. And no doubt more innovative products will continue to be launched – watch this space!

Do you already have one of these cards? If not, do you feel tempted to try using one on your next holiday?

Do you mainly use cash or cards for your holiday spending?

Cash (42%, 141 Votes)

Credit cards (31%, 105 Votes)

Debit cards (15%, 51 Votes)

Prepaid cards (11%, 37 Votes)

Total Voters: 334

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Comments
Member

Here is someones detailed account of an academic taking up Revolut in 2015.
https://www.cl.cam.ac.uk/~mjcg/Revolut/

I will probably try the Travelex card as we already have Travelex connection. Also it seems to be independent of a smartphone though I suspect detailed digging will be required to scope out all the possibilities and potential weaknesses. The current ability to send money anywhere swiftly with Revolut is an interesting.

As I expect these cards will evolve swiftly it would be useful if there was a way to view a Which? up-dating article on these cards.

Member

Just be aware NOW:- In the Far East (some countries Banks) charge an ATM fee to withdraw via Debit Cards etc (Usually about £4-5 ) this is in addition to your own fees by your Bank/Credit Card issuer. another Banking disgusting practice.

Member
ROY ABEL says:
19 June 2016

I use the Revolut for purchases and cash withdrawals for extended stays in France.
Topping up via the bank link is virtually instant, I can easily lock it, recover my pin,check my balance – so with good exchange rates and limited fees (I believe they introduced some in 2016) it works very well for me…
BUT…
acceptance of Revolut is not ubiquitous or consistent-
I can use it for motrorway tolls but often not for fuel
I can pay my utilities bill using it on the phone but not online
I can mostly draw cash from the machine at the supermarket but it is refused at check-out
(often telling me I am using the wrong pin – I’m not -I can check this on the app!)
and the cash machine that contentedly dispensed euros for the majority of my last stay-
refused the card in the last week.
So – back-up is required.

Member

I love using Revolut, it’s easy and convenient with no hidden fees, although it says after a year, there will be. But for now, I am going to enjoy the fee free.

Member

Thank you guys for the very useful information . You cannot beat user experience for finding ut the pitfalls that can occur.

Member

I spoke too early. I thought I would upload some money ahead of my next trip away, the suddenly today I got a message from Revoult saying Mastercard detected fraud and blocked my card, when I have not used the card for a few weeks!

Member

Serious ouch! Let us know how long it takes to sort out.

Member
Tom Davison says:
22 June 2016

I have two credit cards that I use abroad.

My Post Office Mastercard charges for cash withdrawals, but for purchases, there are no overseas currency charges, and no interest if it is paid off by the due date. So I use this for my purchases.

My Halifax Mastercard makes no charge for cash withdrawals and also has no currency charges, but charges interest from the day that cash is withdrawn. As I have internet banking, I draw out cash from an ATM, and then, that same evening, transfer sufficient sterling from my UK bank to cover the cost of the withdrawal. In theory, you could also make purchases on this card, but any payment is applied to purchases first, and only then to the cash withdrawn. So, for simplicity, I use the Halifax card for cash withdrawals only. The secondary advantage is that I only draw out a max of 300 Euros at any time, so reduce my risk of theft.

On my last two week holiday in Spain, I paid no interest or charges on any purchases made, and a total of 35pence interest and charges on 1500 Euros of cash withdrawal. ( I was a day late getting the payment made for one of the withdrawals) And with both cards, the sterling conversion is at the commercial rate, which is much better than the tourist rate at any bank or exchange.