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What is a Pre-Paid Currency Card?

Written by: Chris Foxton Head of Travel Money, Asda Money 16 Nov 2020

Whenever you go on holiday, one of the things you should always think carefully about is how you plan to keep your money safe while you travel.

In the past, we used to have to rely on money belts, hotel safes and hidden pockets in our luggage to ensure that our money was kept secure and to hand. While those methods are still viable ways of protecting your cash, the modern world has provided a handy solution in what we call a pre-paid currency card.

These handy cards are, simply put, a secure way to keep your holiday money from loss or theft, and since they fit nicely into your wallet or purse, you can always have them to hand when you need them.

So what exactly is a pre-paid currency card? How do they work? Are pre-paid currency cards a good idea? We’ve written this guide to help answer those important questions and any others you might have about cards and keeping your money safe abroad.

How does a pre-paid currency card work?


A pre-paid currency card is a money card that you can pre-load with a foreign currency to take on your trips abroad. The card be used to make payments and withdraw local money from an ATM – it works in a similar way to debit and credit cards, with a magnetic strip, a number and a PIN number to keep your money secure.

The money available on the card is money that you’ve exchanged from pounds to put on the card. Pre-paid means that the money has already been loaded and exchanged, ready for use.

Are pre-paid travel cards a good idea?


Yes, generally, having a pre-paid travel card is a good choice for your holiday plans for the following reasons:

Safety – Having a lot of cash on you can make you a target for thieves, pickpockets and scammers, especially when it comes to paying for goods and services. A pre-paid travel card is safer because it is protected by your pin number and it’s all on one card which can be used for transactions without you having to exchange money in plain sight.

Convenience – Bringing money abroad can be a hassle – you need to first head to an exchange bureau to exchange your pounds, then you need somewhere to hide the bulk of the money while you’re abroad, then you have to pay for things in a new and different currency. A pre-paid card takes care of all that, letting you load money in your own time and keeping it all in one handy place. 

Value – When you take out a pre-paid travel card, you load all of your money onto the card at the same time. With modern pre-paid cards, you can do that all with just a tap on an app or website on your phone or computer. That means that if you’re smart about your money loading, you can bide your time and wait for an exchange rate that works for you. Once the exchange levels change in your favour, you can load all your money at once and take advantage of the better rate.

Pre-paid travel cards and budgeting


One of the major advantages to pre-paid travel cards is that they can come in handy for travellers on a budget. Making all your payments and transactions on the same card can help you apply sensible and manageable budgets for your holiday expenditure, and more usefully, the card can help you set spending limits for what you’re paying for.

When you load up a card, you’re loading a finite amount of money – there is no overdraft or credit line, and you’ll have to put new money on the card yourself. Because of this, you’ll get a tangible idea of how much you’re spending and you’ll know when you need to reign in your spending and save your money.

What is the best pre-paid travel card?


The best pre-paid travel cards are the ones that offer good exchange rates and that adequately protect your cash. Many pre-paid travel cards also charge fees, so it’s a good idea to read the terms and conditions of any pre-paid option to ensure you’re getting the best deal.

The Asda Money Currency Card


The Asda Money Currency Card is our very own pre-paid travel money card that offers a comprehensive range of benefits to keep your money safe and manageable when you go abroad. Available in euros, dollars, Canadian dollars, Australian dollars and South African rand, our card is convenient and practical, and works for you – providing a range of top-up options including instore, online or over the phone.

Learn more about the Asda currency card here.