Editor's Choice: The best prepaid cards for travel

By UK CreditCards.com

Prepaid cards for travel have become a popular travel companion for consumers going on holiday or taking a business trip. Some experts say that prepaid cards for travel are a cheaper, safer and simpler payment method for use abroad than other types of cards.

travel-dollar

There are a number of different types of travel prepaid cards on the market to suit different purposes, so it's important to do your research before you apply for a new card. For example, some travel prepaid cards have excellent exchange rates but expensive ATM fees. Others are not accepted in many locations.

To help you with your search, we scoured the market for the best travel prepaid cards available. Here our top five:

Virgin Money Prepaid Travel Money card
The Virgin Money is a prepaid Visa card that comes in two different currencies, the Euro and the US Dollar. Visa is the second largest card issuer in the world, and the Virgin card is accepted at 28 million locations around the globe. The Travel Money card is available to people over the age of 13 with guaranteed acceptance, and every cardholder receives two cards -- one for primary use and one for emergencies. The card can be topped up via debit card, credit card and Paypoint. However, only debit is free. The other two payment methods will incur a fee of 2.5% to 2.75%. There is no charge for applying for the card, nor a monthly fee, so if you don't use the card, you don't pay anything.

Pro: You can get up to four additional cards for friends and family.
Con: Cash withdrawals cost a minimum of €1.50/$2 -- and more if the withdrawal is not in the card currency.

Cash Plus Euro card
The CashPlus card is designed to be used throughout mainland Europe as the card currency is the Euro. Issued by MasterCard, the CashPlus card is accepted at approximately 30 million locations worldwide. The minimum age requirement for the CashPlus travel card is 18, but additional cardholders only need to be 13 years old. The card can be reloaded or topped up for free with a debit card, a standing order, at the Post Office, bank, CashPlus stores and even with wages. The only reload fee is if you top up the card via eBay; this will cost you £2.

Pro: No fees for topping up the card (unless you're using eBay).
Con: You need to be an existing customer before you can apply for a card.

Travelex Cash Passport
The Travelex Cash Passport prepaid card is available in seven different currencies, making this the best option if you're travelling outside of the US and Europe. In addition to the Euro, Pound Sterling and US Dollar, the card is available in the Canadian Dollar, Australian Dollar, New Zealand Dollar and South African Rand. There is a minimum initial loading requirement of £100 or equivalent, but there are no additional charges with this card, such as application fees or monthly fees.

However, the reload fees are not as simple to understand as with most cards, and there are different ways to top up depending on where you originally got the card from. Most customers can top up online, with e-banking, on the phone or in branch, but online top ups are not available for some customers.

Pro: Available in seven different currencies.
Con: Confusing reload fees and channels.

BreadFX Prepaid Euro Travel
The BreadFX card is only available in Euros. There is a Pound Sterling alternative and a US Dollar card currently in development. The card is valid for three years and benefits from extremely low fees. There are no application or monthly charges associated with the BreadFX card. There are also no exchange rate or transaction fees when the card is used in Euro countries, making this a very affordable option on holiday.

Pro: Low fees in Euro countries.
Con: Limited to topping up twice a day.

See related: Why travel with a prepaid card?; Travellers to US may be unable to use credit cards

Published: 26 August 2011