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Travel cards: Why they are good for you while travelling abroad

Travel cards are one of the better means to carry foreign exchange when you are going overseas.

When the Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu said that, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step,” he could not have known that man would one day literally travel a thousand miles to explore the unknown. Travelling abroad has never been easier than today. With travel applications and easy access to information, there has never been a better time to travel. Travel cards have made it that much easier to avoid carrying cash.

As the world gets smaller and economies come together, more professionals are travelling abroad on corporate visits. In short, the need for instant cash in local currency is only increasing by the day. Given that traveller’s cheques are now passé and cash, too risky, travellers are increasingly looking at money cards for safe and easy travel. And there’s good reason for that. One of the biggest advantages of a travel card is the fast and easy access to cash. Very similar to a phone’s prepaid card, you can load your travel card, with the currency of your destination and spend as you go along, without having to wrestle with conversion rates at every point of sale or merchant outlet. If, at the end of the trip there is money unspent in your card, you can ask for a refund, or use it for a later trip. Furthermore, unlike cash spends you can keep track on your spends through internet banking and SMS alerts, which helps in controlling expenses while holidaying in a new country.

Most cards come with international toll-free numbers provided by the bank, which is a help during distress or providing simple guidance. In case of a lost card, it can be blocked, or the entire amount can be transferred real-time on a replacement card. Travel cards often provide an extensive range of insurance covers such as personal air accident cover (only for death) and assistance during loss of travel documents (visa and passport), lost-card-liability cover and lots more. Also, in case you fall short of cash along the length of your trip, you may even top up your card by transferring money from your bank. Your travel card can be swiped at ATMs across the world. In fact, irrespective of the base currency, i.e. the currency with which you have loaded the card, you can withdraw cash in the local currency of the country you are in.

In case of theft or skimming, your losses are restricted since the card is not linked to your transaction account. Also, travel cards are now equipped with chip and PIN technology which make them even more safe and secure. It can be used for standard debit transactions, online, or in store, reducing the need for carrying cash around. Despite the advantages, there is a need to keep an eye on the exchange rate you receive. It is important then to keep in mind that if your travel card is your main source of holiday spending, it pays to do your homework and choose a card that suits your needs. After all, there are a few thousand miles to cover.