/ 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.

Member

I have used the Caxton FX Prepaid cards for many years and currently use their multi currency Global Traveller card.
They have always provided an excellent service and their exchange rates have been in the best top few, so I have never really considered changing.
I see that their cards are not among the current Which best prepaid cards, so I will take a look at the new Revolut and Travelex Supercard cards.
Has anyone switched from Caxton FX to one of these cards and what is your view now please?
As a total aside, whilst in Turkey in April/May this year I discovered that buying Turkish Lira in local travel agents, bars, corner shops…etc offered a better exchange rate than any other traditional options.
How is this possible?

Member
dieseltaylor says:
25 August 2016

al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2016/01/turkey-tightens-foreign-currency-rules.html

Getting a better rate from the locals I always thought traditional in Turkey anyway. However I see there may be more reason now that in previous years.

Member
Tim says:
4 July 2016

The Supercard Visa pilot was great, but the new issue MasterCard is almost useless. It is impossible to change the PIN to something memorable. True, you can look it up on your phone, but that involves inputting a password to log in to the app, and then inputting the password *again*. Life is too short. Plus now there is a hefty fee for withdrawals from an ATM. I certainly won’t be using it as much as I anticipated.

Member
Welling Resident says:
25 July 2016

The app did not download correctly . I get “We’re sorry something has gone wrong please try again” when I log in . The phone help lines are swamped ; I phoned repeatedly & either call does not go through , there is a robot voice ” Sorry we cannot take your call ” , or you get the robot saying the operators are busy , you listen to awful music then get disconnected anyway . I shan’t use this card this year . Maybe the infrastructure will be improved in a few months .

Member
Welling Resident says:
25 July 2016

That’s the Revolut card . My phone took about 20 mins to download the app , during which time my mobile shut down /timed out several times . Maybe that’s why the Revolut app isn’t working .

Member
Woodsie of Ely says:
24 August 2016

I have been in Colorado, US for 48 hrs and have twice tried unsuccessfully to use my recently acquired Travelex Supercard. Both the restaurant and motel still use signatures to authorise card payments. Unbelievably chip and pin seems a rarity in the USA.
I will keep trying, but so frustrating.

Member

Bad to worse! Having had my Travelex Supercard rejected twice here in Colorado, I have now had my credit card stopped. My M&S MasterCard was the “linked card” to my Supercard, and M&S security didn’t recognise the Supercard so stopped everything!!!
Was it worth getting a Supercard? Definitely NOT!!!!

Member
dieseltaylor says:
25 August 2016

Keep on posting the “experience” , it is very interesting to see the pitfalls.

Member

Like the idea of a lot of this technology, but as the comments above have shown it’s a big hassle when they go wrong! If you travel a lot I can see why they would be useful, especially for the security features, but for the holiday/occasional traveller cash is hard to beat.

Member
Kath says:
10 April 2017

BEWARE of Travelex Cashpassport which is available from Sainsburys and several other outlets. On a recent long stay in Spain I topped up the card online with £500. However, nothing appeared on my Cashpassport but the money showed as a debit on my Bank account. I rang them and emailed them for several days with no success. I contacted my Bank and they gave me reference no’s, and date & time of transaction to pass on to CP, who still insisted that the transaction did not happen. A whole week of constant stress, phone calls, and emails. Finally my Bank passed the matter on to their investigation department and the money then appeared on my CP. I sufferred a mini stroke after this ordeal and spent time in Hospital undergoing many tests.