Woman holding a credit card (Shutterstock: see credit below)
Article 17 November

8 top tips for using a prepaid currency card

A prepaid currency card is perhaps the best way to spend money overseas – but how to get the best exchange rate? And when shouldn't you use your card? Heed these expert tips...

1. Don't use your prepaid card for security deposits

Need to pay a deposit on your hotel room or car hire? Don't hand over your prepaid currency card! The excess amount could be blocked on your card, and it can take 30 days for that block to be removed – so you might be stuck overseas with no currency. Use a regular card for the security, then pay any fees with your prepaid when settling up.

2. Do pay in local currency

In some place, you'll be given the option of paying in your 'home currency' – not local money. Don't! Always choose the local currency – otherwise the retailer can convert your payment at their exchange rate, so you lose out on the original exchange rate you arranged when topping up your card. This process – called Dynamic Currency Conversion – can leave you out of pocket, so always check the currency before authorising any transactions.

3. Don't use your card at toll booths

For security reasons, your prepaid card won't work at automated petrol stations or toll booth. Seek out a different way to pay, or use an alternative card to settle up.

4. Do check your balance

You are unable to check the balance of your prepaid card at an ATM. If you've got a Caxton FX card, you can check your balance online, by SMS or phone 24 hours a day – and keep an eye on it via the app, too.

5. Don't be caught out by ATM fees

If you've got a Caxton FX card, you won't be charged for overseas ATM withdrawals. But when you use an ATM overseas, the ATM owner may charge you a fee (it's common practice in Thailand, for example) – but this won't come from Caxton FX. Unfortunately, if the ATM owner chooses to charge for a withdrawal, there is nothing your currency card provider can do to prevent or refund it.

6. Do change your PIN before you travel

You should change your default PIN, but don't leave it until you're away – overseas cash machines won't allow you to do this. You can do it at a regular ATM, at home.

7. Do take a back-up card

In case your card is lost or stolen, it's a good idea to take two cards with you – and keep them in separate places. You can block one card, and use the other – so you won't get caught without currency.

8. Do check your card's expiry date

The card expiry month, is shown on your currency card under, 'expires end'. Your card will always expire on the last working day of the month.

Main image: Woman holding a credit card (Shutterstock)